“To be in Vogue has to mean something” says editor in chief Anna Wintour. “It’s an endorsement, it’s a validation.” And what greater endorsement or validation in fashion is there than landing the Vogue cover? It’s a place that’s been occupied by influential female figures from Hillary Clinton to Angelina Jolie, from Michelle Obama to Beyoncé. Pioneers in art, film, music, politics. Women who inspire social and cultural innovation, while looking pretty damn good doing it. Now, I’m not saying being in Vogue is like winning the Nobel Prize or anything. It is at the end of the day a fashion magazine. But it’s also a pretty respectable fashion magazine, and getting Anna Wintour’s stamp of approval is no easy feat. Which is why I’m struggling to understand how Kim Kardashian has joined the ranks of the first lady and Meryl Streep by gracing the cover of next month’s issue alongside her beau Kanye West. Swathed in Lanvin threads, shot by Annie Leibovitz, and accompanied by a saccharine profile courtesy of none other than Vogue’s editor-at-large Hamish Bowles, Kim looks pretty at home within Vogue’s pages. I’m just not sure why she’s there.
Kanye I can understand. While his interviews err on the side of the ridiculous, he’s a hugely successful musician with serious gravitas in the fashion world. Kim on the other hand is harder to make sense of. She isn’t a musician, actress, philanthropist, activist, or writer. I’m not really sure what she is. Reality TV star? Frequent shopper? Overnight porn sensation? What’s even more interesting is how a woman allegedly blacklisted by Wintour and banned from the Met Ball till last year somehow managed to get herself into the editor’s good graces.
The only sensible conclusion I can come to is that it’s all an elaborate prank. A tongue-in-cheek piece of social commentary. A critique of our obsession with celebrity for the sake of celebrity. An examination of our stir-crazy, star-crazed social media stupors. Just look at the cover. How can a hashtag as long and inaccurate as #worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple be anything but a joke? How can a description of Kris Jenner as “agelessly glamorous, apricot-skinned” with “fluttering eyelashes as thick, long and lustrous as a hummingbird’s wings” not be satire? In her letter from the editor, Wintour wrote that “part of the pleasure of editing Vogue, one that lies in a long tradition of this magazine, is being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment.” Maybe that’s exactly what Wintour is trying to do. By placing hashtags and reality TV stars on her magazine’s cover, perhaps Wintour is throwing up a mirror at a readership of rapidly evolving pop-culture consumers. Either that, or I’m giving way too much credit to just another glossy magazine that’s trying desperately to sell itself in a consumerist rat race.