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The Fashion Body, Edited

by Rebecca Suhrawardi Austin .

The editorial fashion body is one that is up for grabs. It's even possible that Internet egalitarianism may have killed the editorial fashion body entirely and reallocated focus solely to the quality of the fashion ideas behind the commentary.

As a journalist and editor, it seems natural for me to discuss the fashion body from the side of those who write about fashion. While there may not be one single idea of a fashion editor or journalist, a certain standard has been imposed to this position. In many cases the standard is unspoken, but in some cases, the description of editor is explicit.

Georgina Howell, who came to work in fashion in the early sixties at the tender age of seventeen, was the Fashion Features Editor of Vogue and the Fashion Editor of The Observer before giving way to a rich freelance career that has spanned the course of her life.

When Howell began at Condé Nast, editors and employees were expected to to abide by strict codes of behavior. So You Have Joined Condé Nast was the handbook given to her as her guide, and from her own account in Sultans of Style, a book Howell authored, the handbook, 'Told me to wear plain dark costume to the office, not to wear jewellery other than a string of pearls and to wear a hat and gloves to and from the office.' It also said not to discuss wages and other details of how an editor should behave, present themselves, and anything else expected of her, personally or professionally.

While people like Clare Rendleshaw, a Voguette-turned-Directrice of Yves Saint Laurent, Tina Brown of Vanity Fair fame, and Anna Piaggi of Italian Vogue, broke the mold of the Condé Nast handbook, the antiquated ideas still persisted, and are even present today. Many major editors of magazines are still reserved, thin, and extremely well-presented. Look at Anna Wintour: admittedly minus hat and gloves, she's nevertheless a living embodiment of 1960's Condé Nast.

Enter the Internet.

The advent of the web has allowed egalitarianism into the fold and bred an organic and democratised fashion editor and journalist, strangling the old-school rules which defined what it means to be an editor. Anyone, from a 13 year-old in the midwest to a finance guy, can comment on fashion these days, be heard, and even be respected.

Susanna Lau, better known as Susie Bubble, is a wonderful example. She became famous for her blog Style Bubble, which amply demonstrates she is hardly the tight-lipped, glove-wearing sort, and through her blog, has carved herself into a respected and reputed voice of fashion. Even closer to home, look at all the talent that seeps out of this very site, few of whom prescribe to the ideals to which Howell was subject in her career.

What all of this begs to discuss, is not the editorial fashion body as we see it, but the editorial fashion body as consumers want it.

The Internet has provided a space for people who are not the editors of yore to exist and exchange ideas.  The simple rule of supply and demand would suggest consumers have been salivating for something radically different of the people who feed them their fashion - the fame bloggers have garnered could hardly exist if people did not want to hear what they have to say. And this giant public response seems to to indicate the editorial representatives and the commentaries they present are a concept in need of a serious revolution.

It's certain the days of So You Have Joined Condé Nast are on their way out, and the editorial fashion body is one that is up for grabs. It's even possible that Internet egalitarianism may have killed the editorial fashion body entirely and reallocated focus solely to the quality of the fashion ideas behind the commentary.  

Perhaps in the next series, our focus will have shifted, and the fashion body will be irrelevant, and we will be discussing the fashion mind instead.