Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lula Magazine Issue 11...Girl of My Dreams?

Why yes, I do wear ball gowns when I read magazines.
I'd like to start this post off by apologizing to the postman who had to be interrogated for the past month as I calmly awaited the arrival of Lula #11 from England. With the apology out of the way I felt strange when reading the new issue as if I had a concrete example to articulate the way I have been feeling about fashion lately, and specifically the laziness that has manifested itself and has thus been sold to consumers (let's be honest, girls). All of the whimsy and fantasy that had been apparent in the former magazines had disappeared and been replaced by boring photo shoots, lengthy question and answer sections (Jason Schwartzman?!?), and interviewers who had developed cultural autism towards their subject matter/interviewees. If I wanted to actually read I'd pick up one of the many books I can't follow through with from being in graduate school, you know?

We all know that everyone is going to go bananas over the new issue and with the rise in the magazine's popularity the 5 copies that the Lincoln Park Borders usually orders have been disappearing faster than you can say "Designer Target collaboration". This begins the quandary of liking something that has now gained an increase in popularity by 100-fold, while cultivating a fevered demand for the rare copies that surface by luck or as of late, by ebay. I suppose the real question I'm asking is who has the Lula girl become and is it worth it to continue to incontrovertibly support a publication that has now become a part of an institution. Perhaps, a personal question I would pose to myself is if my disappointment outweighs my compulsive desire to collect the coveted magazine? I must admit that it's slightly unsettling to see that the collection above representing 5 years of my life.

I remember my friend Courtney telling, no...compelling me to pick up the large $15 magazine that she had seen at the bookstore with the overtly derivative 'Lolita' cover that inspired more than one girl, I'm sure, to pick up those damned heart-shaped glasses. They do lead to trouble though...just ask Evan Rachel Wood. However, I digress, as soon as I flipped through the pages it was evident that both Courtney and I were crushing hard over our new friend Lula whose editorial titles were lyrics to our favorite Hole song, and whose editor-in-chief clearly had a hard-on for baby-doll dresses and 90s nostalgia. Just. Like. Us.

The picture above is one of the standouts from the current issue and is a part of the editorial entitled, "Rainbows in the Dark", which I'm assuming is not a Dio reference, but instead pilfered from Tilly and the Wall lyrics. I feel like the issue would have been stronger if it had been an allusion to Dio because the current rag is very much like the lyrics from the most powerful singer in heavy metal, "You're a picture-just an image caught in time, we're in a lie-you and I, we're words without a rhyme". I'm just going to say it. The whole thing was pretty disappointing considering that it's been 3 months late and has had enough hoopla around the blog-o-hood that Leith Clark must be up to her Orla Kiely dress in social networking questions regarding the whereabouts of the coveted pulp.

Take for example the Vivienne Westwood article, which features not only the most boring fashion spread of examples of Ms. Westwood's designs, but has Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte) asking what can only be described as asking a Nobel Peace Prize Winner what their favorite color is..."You had some involvement in the punk music explosion in London" YEEEEAAAAHHHH. She had a little bit more than "some involvement" with the creation of punk rock...looks like someone needs to stop consulting with teenagers and dieting to please Anna Wintour and go watch "Jubilee". Just reminded me of the scene in "Sid and Nancy" where Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious are screaming, "BOOOOORRRRINNGGG!!! BOOOOORRRRRIIINNNNGGG!!". Can't be helped..that's just what comes to mind.

If one had access not only to Vivienne Westwood's archives, but her current collections as well and was styling for a magazine that only comes out twice a year wouldn't you have picked more editorial-worthy looks than a sweater wrap-dress? Maybe the Mulleavy's wanted to be the only ones that shined in this issue, which is unfortunate because they didn't even do that great of a job showcasing their own designs. Unless you consider photographing Gainsbourg in the same dress over and over and over creative. Oh, but thanks for the photo spread of your parents who looked like Original Zonkeys. It was quite sweet.

The photo above from the shoot entitled 'Under the Pink' (which seems a little gauche-no?) exemplifies this fascination with ill-fitting clothing and styling that looks like a combination of an Amish Bat Mitzvah. How can sequins look so dowdy? It's as if we've entered into two realms of the unreal in fashion...either matron/ironic/Rotten Milk playing a noise show in 2006 or Terry Richardson humping some girl's face in a Herve Leger dress. Are there no other choices here? Why do we so accept what is prescribed by these lunatics?

I don't mean to bag on the Rodarte's, but as they were the guest editors they're going to have to take some of the responsibility for how completely pedestrian the majority of the magazine turned out. I understand that part of the appeal of this particular issue are these fashion favorites, but I think that's something to think about as consumers, in particular, the way upon which certain designers have obtained unquestionable status. Weren't we taught by our parents to recognize when someone's having one over on us? Sometimes it feels like the current state of fashion is just one big joke to see how many girls can look like single moms from 1987 who still use Weasel Dust when they go out to party.

Paper doll version of the Rodarte designed dress for Leith Clark and said dress in actuality.

Maybe what has disenchanted me the most is Lula's representation as a tangible construct of the way in which things have changed both personally and culturally. While I'm all for evolution (thinking of you, Bill Hicks) I, like many people, have a difficult time with change, and try to acknowledge when I'm standing on the edge of nostalgia about to jump off. If Leith Clark created Lula with the understanding that this may be an unsuccessful magazine doomed to one issue then those first few issues embody the freedom of her true vision, and as the years passed by and the magazines gained more notoriety then the original concept is naturally corrupted.

The whole situation reminds me of the scene in 'The Crow' (then again, what doesn't?) where Top Dollar berates the leaders of the city's gangs for having made a mockery of Devils Night, as well as, its' commodification to the point where there are now greeting cards for the once anarchic shivaree. "It's all been done before, you see what I'm saying? I want you to set a fire, so goddamn big, that the gods'll notice us again!"

It seems as though Lula has become a tardy and thicker version of Zink, for pete's sake, and although the magazine is apparently self-published with few adverts in order to maintain more artistic control I implore Leith to reconsider how she has grown in the past 5 years, as well as, her readers and strive to break its' own perpetuated institution. That being said, it is worth the trouble to seek out the past issues, but I have a feeling that just like the predictable hoopla that surrounds certain "IT" items gals will be duking it out on ebay snatching up number 11.

I guess you can't fight City Hall.

All images except for magazine pile are from Lula Magazine


  1. I totally agree (geeze you always get me thinking and that's always a challenge given my self inflicted lack of sleep). The whole vibe with the "arteests" getting away with anything because they are somehow unquestionable is totally true. I mean sometimes they send stuff down the runway and i'm like what the??!! Kind of like the emperors new clothes.
    Also WHAT a disappointment the viv westwood shoot was! seriously doesn't have the awesomely skanky nineties trailer vibe which i totally love from her i mean how good was it when she sent pamela anderson down the catwalk in that upside down tutu !!!!! And i love her ad campaigns they are genius with the crazy zombie/trailer park/cactus/random dogs etc
    AND (essay comment sorry) i agree with the dowdy/amish thing going on at the moment i mean what is with that? i know styles change etc but there has to be some sex appeal there somewhere just look at the pink socks with sandals and the sequin dress which is two sizes to big for her mmm really sexy.....
    i'm kinda into 'another' magazine but also hate it when it's crap because you have to wait six months for the next one!!! it's a killer
    p.s. you should make ur own mag i would totally be obsessed with it

  2. Your dress is freakin' awesome! And I agree, you should start a magazine. You've got the writing ability and a unique style, plus tons of related references. I can definitely see you as someone who would stick to their artistic vision no matter what. ;)

    The "Amish Bat Mitzvah" dress is uncomfortably boring. I feel like I've seen that dress 2000+ times and always modeled by a stereotypically dorky girl. I can't help but think outfits like that are added into artsy magazines just to cater to a specific audience. :/

  3. I hate the Rodarte sisters and the horse they rode in on.

  4. i agree for the most part, but i DO think that the dowdy-matron look is good for the sole reason that it detracts from displayed female sexuality. as women, society tells us that our bodies in the public sphere are meant to sate men's appetites and that looking good = looking sexy. sometimes it's nice to wear a long sleeves and long skirts and take the sex out of the equation. as women, we don't have to display our bodies sexually all the time.

  5. •♣♪★♥ this is adorable!! •♣♪★♥

    lula is a cute mag - its a lil sexy no worries