Culture is now officially over.
At least, that’s the premise of a new think piece by Kurt Andersen in next month’s Vanity Fair, which claims our culture stopped producing new ideas sometime around 1991.
He’s got a point, especially on the men’s style front. Swap photos of low-key men on the street circa 2011 and 1991, and it might be hard to tell which was which. You could hardly say the same for 1971, or 1951. Even the cutting-edge style pics, like the above one from Wale Oyejide, are hardly distinctive. Give or take the banker’s collar and he could be walking out of a law firm on any day in the last 30 years.
It all points to a pretty sobering conclusion: fashion is over. We hope you like those longwings, because they’re going to be with you for a very long time…
Vanityfair.com just executed what might be the best foreign policy/fashion bifecta ever to grace the slideshow form. The subject is Muammar Quaddafi, and his various bizzaro style choices—ranging from absurdly rococo kufis to HIStory-era MJ uniforms. Never has a world leader looked so much like a homeless person and remained in power.
The piece might seem a bit breezy considering how repressive Qaddafi’s been for the past 40 years, but we bet there are dozens of Libyan newspapermen who would kill to be able to write this piece. He’s deserved a good deflating for decades now, and it would appear that Graydon Carter has given it to him.
We don’t want to spoil it for you, so we’ll just single out this picture as worth a look. It’s actually one of his more understated outfits, but it might be enough to qualify him for a new kind of watch list…
Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List just arrived on newsstands (and, if you’re so inclined, the internet), stocked with the usual cohort of financiers, movie stars and improbably named socialites. Didn’t we read about Ogden Phipps II in an Evelyn Waugh book?
We were glad to see Tiki Barber on the list, if only to provide a break from all the financiers, but we refuse to believe this is the best picture they could find. It’s a fine suit, and the brown oxfords are a nice touch to keep him on the informal side of bankerdom, but the photo editors let him slip through with a buttoned top button that throws his whole jacket into disarray. It’s not a slip-up on Tiki’s part—a strangely draped jacket happens to the best of us from time to time—but it’s a little embarrassing to end up on a best-dressed list with this many wrinkles.
But graded on the ex-football-player curve, he’s practically Cary Grant.
*Photographed by our fearless lensman, Patrick McMullan.*
Has well-upholstered *Vanity Fair* editor Graydon Carter finally seen the error of his ways? We had reason to chide the glossy gourmand a few months back for wearing a double-breasted blazer after we distinctly instructed him to eschew the look. While we would scarcely expect a fellow who owns a glamorous greasy spoon to keep his girlish figure, we do feel one of Mr. Carter’s stature ought to employ his tailor in the artful concealment of same.
Therefore, we were delighted to see him sporting a (relatively) trim single-breasted navy blazer at the book bash for his latest coffee-table tome, *Vanity Fair: The Portraits*. Compare this photo to those of the earlier double-breasted numbers and witness the miraculous transformation. Here is a fellow we would call leonine, majestic, statuesque. And yes, that’s him on the right.
This month’s Vanity Fair features a windy trot through the remains of Marilyn Monroe’s estate, in the name of unraveling the “mystery of Marilyn’s death.” There are a few Kennedy love letters, one from T.S. Eliot (!?), and a whole lot of morbid fetishism, courtesy of writer Sam Kashner. (The curious can find a full web-only accounting here.) Of course, the media loves a dead blonde, but this is more unseemly than usual.
Monroe’s death is only a mystery the way JFK’s death is a mystery. When a corpse is found surrounded by sleeping pills, you don’t have to reach too far for the truth. Monroe was an orphan, and struggled all her life with what Arthur Miller described (in a far superior VF article) as “the bottomless loneliness that no parented person can really know”, so her suicide not as inexplicable as Kashner would have us believe. The real shock is how blind most writers have been to her real, human problems.
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