Myth v reality
Posted by anakkawi on December 31, 2007
In case you hadn’t spotted it, Ugly Betty, Channel 4’s new series, is another excuse to gawp at what goes on behind the scenes at a glossy magazine. Are they really so bitchy? Do you have to wear a different hot-off-the-catwalk look every day? Do they all regurgitate their lunches? These are the questions that keep people tuning in to this stuff, even when it’s about as accurate as Martha Stewart’s tax returns. If you really want to separate the myth from reality, here’s the skinny.
You have to be pretty, young and thin
Hardly, though you do have to have something approximating fashion flair. Size and age are not big issues: the worst thing you can say about a fashion editor is that she’s “not on it” any more. Ouch.
The editor as Cruella de Vil
In every representation of this world, the editor is a haughty bitch in a skirt suit — except in the case of Ugly Betty, in which he’s a man. They are equally implausible. Editors (with the exception of Anna Wintour) are infinitely less scary and fashion forward than fashion editors. They never wear suits (men’s-cut trousers or tailored skirts and cashmere). Fur is out. They always eat lunch (though fewer carbs these days). It is the senior fashion editor you want to fear. She’s the one in hot pants with a 26-year-old daughter.
Designer look-book dressing
It is neither cool nor credible to wear top-to-toe designer. Fashion editors will have a few must-haves from the relevant collections; the rest of their wardrobe is high street, vintage or one-offs that never went into production. There are no permatans, no Pobs, no cleavage, no cover-girl make-up, no cigarette holders, no hats and no blood-red manicures, and, though everyone thinks fashion girls wear only Manolos, they’re more likely to be stepping out in Alaïa, Balenciaga, Louboutin or Chloé. Ponytails are de rigueur (must have a no-effort haircut like Kate Moss), and nobody is doing tartan. Ever. Or ties.
Camp boys and dim girls
The myth is that glossies are populated by men in bow ties and posh girls whose fathers buy them time in the fashion cupboard as an alternative to finishing school. Only the latter is true. And there are no handbag dogs.
Beauty editors look good because they drink three litres of water on the hour
Two words: free treatments. In return for a tiny mention on their pages, these girls enjoy the secret of eternal youth, aka lunchtime fillers, injectables, lasers …
Fashion girls are rich
They aren’t; they just spend all their money on clothes and think nothing of shelling out £500 for shoes. Plus, they rely on the generosity of retailers (accessories, hair and make-up are heavily subsidised), and the fashion “cupboard” is brimming with next season’s trophies, which may be borrowed (ie, nicked for the night).
What civilians think of as ugly (beaky nose, Joan of Arc haircut, gappy teeth) is what fashion magazines call strong. The fashion definition of ugly is a girl who compromises with clothes. Grab a pashmina to wear in the cold and kiss that promotion goodbye.