“I’ve just got in from a fashion show, to which I was an invited guest.”
“I’ve just got in from watching the end of year fashion show at the local college, which I got a free ticket for.”
Both statements are equally true, but they conjure up very different images of my evening. The ability to select and distill details to create a more favourable impression (while not lying or simply bragging) is known as the art of self-promotion. I first came across this idea in approximately 1992, when I read an article in Company magazine called “Are the people you admire really that much better than you – or just better at self-promotion?”. Almost twenty years later, I can still recall this title word for word because I pretty much memorised this piece and the rest of the third-hand copy of the magazine too.
This strong memory of a magazine from all those years ago is testament to the profound influence that periodical publishing can have. Although magazines are often dismissed as ephemeral and trivial, they are important cultural products (as I argue in my PhD thesis, lol). My life can be traced in a history of my magazine reading habits: Fast Forward to Bliss to Look (before it became Celebrity Look – grr) to The Clothes Show magazine to Vogue, with Harper’s Bazaar, Psychologies and Grazia thrown in during recent years too. I’ve also had phases of regularly reading Cosmopolitan, Elle and InStyle, along with many others I’ve probably forgotten. Interestingly, I’ve never much liked Marie Claire – don’t know why – and I dislike celebrity gossip magazines.
As this brief history indicates, I like magazines. I especially like fashion magazines. I especially, especially like Vogue. The first copy I bought was the August 1998 issue. I have that one and every issue since, with a few American and French editions thrown in as well. I have kept them and loved them, hoping that they would one day be my own archive for a research project. Recently, though, I’ve felt increasingly burdened by them, as if I’m clinging onto something, grasping at an identity and a past that have slipped away. My decision to drastically purge my possessions was the final incentive to let go of all these back copies. Rather than simply recycling them, I contacted the head of fashion at the local college, who very keenly said yes, they’d happily take them. So tonight I went, getting a ticket to their show as a thank you. Admittedly only four of the thirteen years were taken with me, as the rest are in storage. As soon as I can get them, they’ll go too. It has been a genuine wrench parting with them. It has made me tearful. But knowing that they are going to the college library is a wonderful, heart-warming thought, as I am certain that these handed-on copies of Vogue will inspire the students just as they’ve inspired me over the years.