The Wintour effect & what Zoolander really means for fashion


Ben Stiler & Penelope Cruz photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue US February 2016
"On the whole, people say demeaning things about our world, is because they feel, in some way, excluded, not part of the "cool group", so as a result, they just mock it."

This was Anna Wintours quote that opened the much-hyped 2009 September Issue documentary about one of the world's most influential fashion magazines. Fast-forward eight years and it is Wintour, that very same person whose idea of being common is narrowed down to having a coffee from Starbucks, put Derek Zoolander, the ultimate example of fashion mocking, on a cover of her March 2016 issue. 

I could have said that it broke my heart, but truth to be told, it made me angry.

Now I had a visual, not just emotional, proof that Vogue, once iconic title, was turning into a complete joke and all thanks to the woman who was in the past considered to be the taste maker, the insider and the voice of the industry. The same woman was now tossing away her own believes of what fashion world was all about and instead of making the crowd follow her goes after them instead. 

What was her goal? To make a lot of sales, to earn a lot of cash? Yes, of course. But how could she not realise that the fashion world, the one made of true fashion lovers and influencers - the people who build it, write about it and dream of it every second of their lives, will see it in a completely different light? The light that was, once again, taken away from them (and could have been turned into something wonderful otherwise)

I thought it was bad enough when the clowns (Stiler and Owen) closed a beautiful Valentino show. It was not just a joke, but an insult to the hard work of artisans and ateliers who created the collection. What was the point of that spectacle? To make everyone completely forget about the ethereal dresses and instead focus the two ageing actors, so they can make a come-back and take a mikey out of fashion right in a middle of a fashion week and after one of the most beautiful shows that nobody would ever remember because of them? They certainly succeed. 

Not only that. What Zoolander 2 also succeeded was taking the attention away from fashion creatives without whom Zoolander would not even exist and both Stiler and Owen would have nothing to wear on a red carpet. These people - designers, stylists, models, editors, photographers, tailors and production teams - they work their everything off in order to make fashion happy - not for the fame, but the love of the craft and creativity. For them, fashion is the only place they can live and breathe in, but if they are forgotten or seeing as a joke thanks to a movie that isn't even funny, they are more likely to give up than keep on going.

And this is where Vogue was once helpful by showcasing the new and the best, by introducing them to the crowd before at the very beginning of their journeys, and making people notice these designers, dream of their collections and appreciate the talent. Once upon a time Vogue would dedicate pages and pages and pages to Valentino and Versace, Krizia and Mila Schon, Balenciaga and Oscar de la Renta, Montana and Courreges, Saint Laurent and Gaultier, Chanel and Ungaro, Prada and Ferre, Alaia and Elbaz, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, McQueen and Galliano. It was, indeed, the bible, a kind of magazine everyone would buy before anything else to be inspired,  refine their style and remain in the know. 

Vogue would use the most beautiful models photographed by the most renowned photographers - some of whom would, in fact, influenced the shots of Stiler and Cruz, though I doubt that, unless explained, the ideas behind the photos will be even recognised. 

Yes, the magazine would always feature famous faces, but in the past (and I am talking the proper past, nothing recent) if there ever was a celebrity feature or cover then it would be given to a real star and the likes of Audrey with her bone structure as impeccable as her manners, talented and voluptuously gorgeous Sophia Loren, irresistible Marilyn Monroe or Catherine Deneuve, one-of-a-kind Jane Birkin or Mia Farrow, or a princess whose blood was as blue as the most precious centuries-old topaz - in other words, timeless personalities who could inspired generations and bring a touch of class and quality and beauty to our mundane lives. That was the time of dreams. Now it feels like an asylum.

With a mediocre movie and mediocre stars getting a cover of Vogue what hope the established and up and coming designers have these days? How can they change the industry and create new chapters if people like Wintour would rather use a dozen of pages for a very-very bad editorial featuring two actors than giving them to people who actually deserves attention?

Why there are more articles and headlines about Zoolander 2 than Jonathan Saunders, Donna Karan, Alber Elbaz, Andre Courreges, Madame Carven, Elio Fiorucci, Vince Camuto, Christian Audigier or Mariuccia Mandelli who were forced to change their creative trajectory or simply died in 2015?

Instead we have freaking Derek Zoolander... On a cover of Vogue.

Quoting Wintour / September Issue again - "Do you really feel this is the most important message to put in the issue?"

Yes, Anna may score when it comes to crowd pleasing, but sadly, this is not a kind of crowd that will ever be truly interested in fashion, be able to distinguished between true talent or an It-bag, or, for example, realise that the lip-enhanced character in a houndstooth costume was nothing but a parody of McQueen's unforgettable 2009 show and, in my opinion, a sign of complete disrespect for his memory. Not that the folks would remember McQueen Fall's collection... 

And you know why they would not remember? Because they'll be too busy laughing at basic level jokes and chocking on cheap genetically-modified pop-corn whilst wearing K-Mart jeans and not giving a damn about fashion, its history or people. 

Only this time they will have Wintour on their side because, lets face it, by putting Zoolander on a cover of American Vogue, she gave everyone her seal of approval to "say demeaning things" about the industry that is, in fact, is not made of freaks and divas, but some of the most kind, talented, fascinated, inspirational, creative and hard-working people I've ever had a chance to know. 

Photo source: Ben Stiler & Penelope Cruz photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue US February 2016 via 


  1. Very powerful message!
    Над собой тоже надо уметь смеяться, но не надо перегибать палку и превращать себя в посмешище :(

  2. i am so disappointed again--it's just to make $ and less about integrity. i wish there were no celebs, unless some sort of icons edition or something. bring back the supermodels on the cover!

  3. I stopped reading American Vogue almost ten years ago now. The defining moment for me was a series of issues focussed not on models, or even celebrities, but on American political families. It was then that I knew that Anna Wintour's perspective had somehow changed and that the magazine, as a result, would never be what it had once been. And every cover that has come after has seemed to prove me right, but none more so than this one. If no one comes along with replace Anna Wintour soon, there will be no Vogue left to resurrect by the time she decides to retire...

    1. I have a feeling this may be the "ruled as long as they lived" situation... And it's a shame that nobody can tell Anna the truth.

  4. Excellent job on this post! I have mixed feelings about the cover, I still read Vogue and was kind of surprised at the cover. And yet I wasn't either, with every cover being an actress promoting her movie. Thanks for touching on this


  5. Amazing cover, can't wait to see the new movie!

    God bless,

    XO, Claire


  6. I've been seeing clips of it and I felt it was so inappropriate! It's very clownish and doesn't befit what Vogue use to be. It's truly sad. You summed it up perfectly Natalia. So sad to see. It's time for Wintour to retire. Now it seems anything goes! Her integrity has diminished.