Object of Affection: The September Issues

They’re here. The September issues. When fashion defies all predictions about the death of print, and goes ALL OUT. They’re breaking the scales this year (and apparently, presenting some challenges in terms of mail delivery). Full disclosure—I don’t subscribe to any fashion magazines. I have enough distractions from my modicum of daily productivity as it is. Instead, I indulge in the stupidly expensive and inefficient practice of purchasing a small fortune’s worth of the latest issues anytime I’ve got a plane to catch. I make an exception in September though—I just buy ‘em, whether I’m traveling or not. And rationalize that I’m doing my part to save the world’s print publications…

These September issues got really famous with “The September Issue.” This 2009 documentary about the production of Vogue’s massive September 2007 tome gave us Anna Wintour and (especially) Grace Coddington on-camera, and provided a semi-inside look at the makings of a blockbuster issue. And for anyone with an eye to the business of fashion, the documentary’s timing had an additional unintended sub-plot. It was shot before the economic bust of fall 2008, with its dramatic effect on the fashion and publishing industry—and released just before fall 2009, when the aftershocks were still penetrating and powerful.

It would be way, way too superficial and unfounded to tie this year’s September issues to any economic predictors. Suffice it to say, though, they’re bigger than ever.

Not surprisingly, Vogue sits atop the heap (you know Anna wouldn’t have it any other way). Weighing in at 4.5 pounds and almost 1,000 pages (658 of which are ads), it’s a behemoth. According to Sarah Leon in Stylelist.com, it’s too big for apartment mailboxes. Residents are getting package notifications instead.

On the scales, W Magazine comes in at 3.5 pounds (415 pages, 272 are ads), with Elle at 2.5 pounds (556 pages, 344 are ads) and InStyle with 639 pages (374 ad pages). The clever folks at Racked.com hauled their September issues to a local Whole Foods—providing a useful and hilarious comparison, including the number of animals in each issue and noting that Marie Claire weighs about what a dozen glazed Krispy Kreme donuts would (1.5 pounds).

 Image from Racked.com

Of course, the September issues may be bigger than ever, but they’re nothing new. Vogue takes us down Memory Lane with an online montage of its September issues since 1893. It’s hard to resist Lauren Hutton in 1974. Or a decade earlier, the helmet hat on the 1964 cover (with the tantalizing article “No Smoking: The Luxe Way to Stop”).

My favorite, though, is Vogue’s September 1943 issue—an elegant babe, jaunty hat with veil, a pencil in her gloved hand, perusing a piece a paper that would (in reality) change the world for American women—with the telling headline, “Take the Job! Release a Man to Fight!”

And who says fashion magazines aren’t serious?!? Excuse me…I’ve got 25 pounds of heavy reading to do.



About Cindy Wall

Cindy’s a communications and marketing pro, a writer, a grammar snob, and a rapacious reader. In her own words, she knows “a little about a lot”—i.e., 19th century literature, Karl Lagerfeld’s latest adventures, professional bike racing, and when to use the Oxford comma. She’s a fan of indie film and music, and bullish on local eating and shopping. And she’s recently re-reved her blog, Paris State of Mind, where she writes about all things French.