Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 14/06/12: Free Gifts in Magazines (and what they say about you).

June the first is a momentous day. Yes, it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I know how much we all care about that. Yes, Forbidden Fruit is about to kick off the Irish Festival circuit and thus the official start of Irish Summer. And yes, these are all excellent excuses for total inebriation.

June the first is also an important day for frugal women the country over, for June the first is the day that Glamour UK comes out in Ireland – complete with free Benefit cosmetics. Every June Glamour will give away Benefit swag, newsagents will get incredibly annoyed at the amount of punctured plastic pockets and stolen face primers and beauty junkies will buy copies in bulk and leave the surplus paper in their local recycling bins. People will claim their luxury sample size primers, have a flick through a magazine which makes you worry if everyone is kinkier than you (short answer – probably not, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy) and hopefully not file it away for future reference.

Today I bought four, count ‘em, FOUR copies of Glamour. This is not reverting to type. I love magazines, but my shopping list usually consists of luxury biannual tomes, thick as the Book of Kells, usually full of Cindy Sherman pictures and chimpanzees in Prada (it’s conceptual, dahling). These magazines are usually called something like Blorft or Zip! and will invariably have a cover image of a supermodel or obese person in the nip or a slightly obscure but actually incredibly mainstream person like Bjork swaddled in cotton wool, diamonds and a smattering of neon pigeon shit.

I also buy hard-to-get foreign magazines where the editorials are populated entirely by beautiful transsexual women or frosty Scandinavians. The covers are clean, severe and as close to blank as a brand new A4 drawing pad as possible. The title will have a lot of umlauts or dashes through the letter ‘O’ and the contents will sometimes scare me so much that I’m glad that I can’t understand the text.

Sometimes I will just buy a magazine because it looks like it could be a prop in a Wes Anderson film (The Gentlewoman), or Sophia Coppola’s latest effort (Lula). Sometimes I will buy a magazine because it seems smart, but it is always just pretentious and a little bit sad. Once, I bought a fashion magazine that was about… drum roll.. people who write for fashion magazines. Proof that the fashion industry will one day eat itself. But the magazines really do tie the room together when you fan them out of a coffee table. Martha Stewart taught me that.

In a way, buying these magazines isn’t a measure in the pretension mentioned above, because they are often heavy and unwieldy, and so are totally unsuitable for reading on public transport. If no-one sees you being pretentious, then you’re not pretentious. You’re just being you, which altogether may be a much more depressing prospect.

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