Today is catching up on my (magazine) reading day

Clockwise from upper left: Vanity Fair October 2013 Special Anniversary Issue with Kate Upton on the cover; Esquire October 2013 Life of Man 80th Anniversary issue; Glamour November 2013 with Rhianna on the cover, Vanity Fair November 2013, with Jay-Z on the cover
Clockwise from upper left: Vanity Fair October 2013 Special Anniversary Issue with Kate Upton on the cover; Esquire October 2013 Life of Man 80th Anniversary issue; Glamour November 2013 with Rhianna on the cover; Vanity Fair November 2013, with Jay-Z on the cover

I used to be a voracious magazine reader. However, since I started working in magazine publishing eons ago, reading magazines has ceased to be the pure pleasure it once was. I would start out opening one for the sheer fun of it but even before the halfway point, I would be thinking of story ideas, which layouts worked and which didn’t, and of course, agonizing over the articles. The last part was envy mostly — why I can’t write the way the writers in these magazines wrote. And so, ironically, while I was putting together my own publications, I was reading fewer and fewer of them. I still browse through a lot, but they were mostly for professional reasons, not for the joy of actually having a new issue of a favorite magazine in hand.

Until recently, that is; reading them is fun once again. Maybe because my work, though still in publishing, is about one step removed from the glossies I used to work in before. I have come to accept though that part of me will always view them as work; I go through them with half a professional eye open. Occupational hazard I guess.

Anyway, today, there’s no work as it is Hari Raya Haji here in Singapore. So I’m spending the day puttering about the house and reading the four magazines that have always been on my reading list. (Though I don’t buy as many issues as before because they take up too much space!) These are the magazines that I would (still!) want to work for, given half the chance.

Vanity Fair: In this magazine, gossip and serious issues all get the same level of in-depth reportage. The result? A very engrossing read. I bought both the October and November 2013 issues, because I always try to buy the special issues and the October issue is the magazine’s 100th while the November issue has Maureen Orth’s interview with Mia Farrow about Woody Allen, among others. Explosive stuff!

Esquire October 2013: This is the magazine’s 80th issue. Esquire has always been one of my go-to magazines for great writing and this issue does not disappoint.

Glamour: I always buy this magazine. For me, it contains the best balance of fashion, beauty, advocacy and serious reportage that’s possible in a fashion lifestyle magazine. Of course, I don’t know how long the formula will remain the same. Rumor has it that Anna Wintour is eyeing a revamp of the magazine. I hope it’s not true because I like what Cindy Lieve has done to Glamour and no disrespect to La Wintour, she’s going to make a Vogue clone out of it once she’s done.

So anyway, back to my catch-up reading. Esquire first…

One of those issues that must be read cover to cover
One of those issues that must be read cover to cover

Punk and fashion, power and femininity, poverty and class

Punk and fashion, power and femininity, poverty and class

Fashion regularly shocks me in all sorts of small and large ways. I am dumbfounded by the practically immoral prices of handbags and shoes. But the design of a pair of towering armadillo heels? Eh. I am appalled by the inability of so many designers to recognize the moral responsibility that comes with visually defining class, power, and femininity. I don’t understand why, in an increasingly global business, fashion doesn’t take a more activist stance on labor laws and fair wage issues.

And every now and then, I am left speechless when designers tell a story of such astonishing beauty or intellectual richness that it pushes all sense of logic and practicality out of a woman’s mind and all she can do is stop, smile, and think.” — from the article, “If Punk Can’t Shock, Fashion Still Can”

I love this article. In all my years as a magazine writer and editor, I’ve only written about fashion peripherally, and certainly not as incisively as Robin Givhan. See, kids? This is what fashion journalism is all about!

[link and image borrowed from]

“You’ve got to …

“You’ve got to invest in the world, you’ve got to read, you’ve got to go to art galleries, you’ve got to find out the names of plants. You’ve got to start to love the world and know about the whole genius of the human race. We’re amazing people.”

fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, during an interview at London Fashion Week. Full article here.

[image from]

In a style rut?

In a style rut?

As a jeans-top/T-shirt-cute flats wearing person myself, I tend to forget that sometimes I need to change up my look a little. Here, some simple rules to get us all out of a style rut. Personally, I’m working on number 1, I’ll get to number 3 as soon as I’ve lost more weight or find a skirt that actually flatters my bum, I am not sold on number 7, as I love ratty T-shirts and shorts to bed and I’ve never been convinced of the pajamas-as-outerwear trend (unless I’m in a sleepover)…

A list of lists

Another manic Monday, as the Bangles said. To get me through it, here’s what I’ve been reading/checking out:

I’m thinking of salads, why? I don’t know — maybe because these main course salads are so pretty and look damn delicious.

Despite my “no-rice” for Lent (two more weeks, please God!). I’m not really dieting, but this article on unhealthy healthy snacks caught my eye.

I’m the type who, after watching a movie, would include a comment like, “I love her wardrobe” in my critique about a film. I mean, sure plot and “overarching story themes” are all well and good (and necessary) but sometimes, you just want to talk about the clothes, so I really like this story on memorable movie dresses. One quibble though: Can Princess Leia’s slave-girl bikini even be classified as a dress?

I haven’t watched The Hunger Games yet and I haven’t read the books (yes, book debt!) — and I hardly know the story, except for the bare-bones plot. BUT! Vulture’s Hunger Games Name Generator is lots of fun! Embedded in the article is a link to figure out which District you belong so check it out. Oh, and my name is Terra Lockhearst, haha!

I like this cover of Cate Blanchett in Intelligent Life. She looks great without Photoshop! I am firmly on the side of retouching for magazines in the sometimes hysterical debate over it, but not to the point where you don’t recognize who the person is. The whole point of magazine profiles after all, is to get people to relate (aspire?) to be like their idols and who wants to see their idols have folds and wrinkles and spots and such? But having said that, it also doesn’t make sense for me — both as editor and reader — to render a subject too perfect. Our folds and wrinkles indicate a life well-lived and who doesn’t want that?

Speaking of interesting lives, musicians pay tribute to their favorite writers. Now I suddenly miss Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs!

I also miss The Wire. Mainly because I’ve been talking about it with a colleague! Maybe I should “re-up” and watch it again. In the meantime, there’s this: The Wire: 100 Greatest Quotes. Warning: Contains spoilers!

Here, an impression of moving street art (i.e., Manila jeeps) by a neo-newbie. Good stuff.

I remember my dad would come home from business trips with hotel soaps and shampoos from the various hotels he stayed in. I travel myself, and while I sometimes have the same habit of taking home hotel toiletries (especially if they’re by famous designers/brands), I usually leave them alone. I don’t even use them because I’d bring my own. Or if I’d use them, mostly it’s for washing hands. So what happens to all those unused toiletries or leftover toileties? Clean the World has an interesting — and enterprising — solution.

Big think of the week: Nothing is original — we all steal ideas from someone/somewhere else. But! And here’s the difference: “… admitting that yes, it’s true—nothing is original. Accepting that fact, however, is actually one of the first steps to greatness. ‘If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original, we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running from it,’ [writer Austin Kleon] writes, arguing that the idols and ideas you choose to surround yourself with only serve to make your projects more robust.” This quote is from an interview with the author, whose book, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, says that poaching is essential for good ideas to flourish. I want this book!

And finally — things that I’m grateful for this week: I’m healthy, my family’s doing great, my friends are fabulous, my job allows me to be expand my creativity. If I’m down, there’s always a good book to read or a movie to watch. Sometimes it’s the little things that count. And coffee and alcohol, haha…

Happy Monday! 😉

[image from]