Oh, No. Is Vogue Magazine Set to Become the Arbiter of Female Beauty for the Literary Community?
Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before. (Edith Wharton)
There is talk in the universe concerning an editorial photo spread in the September issue of Vogue Magazine, shot by Annie Leibovitz, which offers a stylized view of the life of Edith Wharton and her ‘contemporaries’. The editorial is set against the backdrop of The Mount (her country estate built in 1902 in Lexon, Massachusetts). The photography spread and the accompanying 3-days of literary wonder were created to honor Edith Wharton on her 150th birthday.
I was impressed the literary and fashion world could come together in such a beautiful and creative way to honor a gifted writer, but more importantly the art of talk and of writing and community. A woman’s fashion magazine that honors a writer? We approve! We approve!
But then the trouble began…Vogue utilized around seven actors, models and writers to represent Edith and her coevals. Many of the male photography subjects utilized in the spread were actual writers, portraying writers during Edith’s time. Seems nice and clever. But Vogue, who understood the inventiveness of that choice, failed to represent one current American female writer in the layout.
Each of the other female characters in the spread were represented by models.
I could think of a host of contemporary female writers that I would have loved to see in the spread. And if Vogue dared not allow non-female models in its spread for fear of contaminating its editorial standing (but think of Art! and the chatter – the good kind of chatter if it had), a host of older models or contemporary actresses who would have certainly offered a bit more depth to a photographic layout which, represented one of the most prolific and cherished female writers of the last 200-years.
So, we got to thinking. Who would we have chosen? A few of our favorites…Some you’ll love and agree with; others you’ll shake your head, but we feel confidant that each woman we mentioned could have pulled off a great bow and curtsy to the life of Ms. Edith Wharton.
Edith as played by (from Top Left): All pictures in the first and third column are Edith Wharton, Melissa Leo (Academy Award Winning Actress for The Fighter), Lauren Weisberger (Author of The Devil Wears Prada),, Suzanne Collins (Author of The Hunger Games), Jorie Graham (American Poet called perhaps the most celebrated poet of the American post-war generation by the US Poetry Foundation), Emily Blount,(Actress, Golden Globe Winner), Kathryn Stockett (Author, The Help).
Other articles we enjoyed reading on the subject:
Why Are There No Women Writers in Vogue’s Edith Wharton Spread? by Kate Bolick for Slate Magazine.
Female Writers Absent FromVogue’s Edith Wharton Spread by Kat Stoeffel for The Cut/The New York Times Online.