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Fashion Journalism Intro

A major part of fashion is fashion journalism.


Journalists comment about the latest fashions on the
runway, as well as on the red carpet. Fashion critique and
commentary can be found in magazines, on TV, and now
more recently even on the Internet. With many fashion
magazines in India, there is a demand for fashion
journalists. However, there is a dearth of fashion reviewers
and critics. To excel in a job like this, people not only need
creative writing skills, but also training in the techniques of
news gathering and reporting with emphasis on the
mechanics of expression, methods, editing, sources,
objectivity and layout.

This must be complemented by a thorough knowledge


of the subject, the technical and non-technical aspects. The
journalist should also be up-to-date with international
couture trends and styles. A fashion journalist would find
employment with a newspaper, magazine or could even
freelance. The money is good and depends on personal
reputation in the industry.

By being a fashion journalist or a fashion writer one


gets paid to write about fashion and Beauty, by having
his/her bylines appearing in magazines and books. A
fashion writer is the one who does fashion reporting or
writes commentaries or books on new trends in the fashion
and beauty industry. One may also choose to review new
fashion and beauty products. Fashion journalists, with
training in news gathering and reporting, write about
fashion trends, fashion shows and fashion collections and
exclusively cover newsmakers in the field. They may also be
asked to provide photo features of the particular area they
cover. A fashion photographer has to have an eye for
aesthetics and no amount of technical training can make up
for that inherent quality.
One can envision traveling to "fashion cities" like Paris,
Milan, Tokyo and New York to attend fashion shows,
meeting celebrities and crème of the society. While only a
lucky few fashion writers can become best-selling authors
and internationally syndicated columnists, it is possible to
be successful in this field even if one doesn`t have any
fashion background, or one does not have impeccable
grammatical skill and even if one is unfamiliar with the
fashion language. However, fashion journalists must have a
keen interest in fashion trends. Some experience in fashion
designing and/or merchandising is an added advantage.
Fashion Photography requires a flair for fashion, an interest
in style and a passionate involvement in anything to do with
fashion. Technical instruction, in the formal sense, is not
necessary. Most techniques can be learned by assisting
other photographers.

A fashion journalist may choose to work as a freelancer


or as a staff writer in a publication. Depending on the
publication for which he/she is writing, there are several
career pathways in this field that one can choose based on
their strengths and interests. One is not restricted to work
for glamorous fashion magazines. They may prefer to work
as one of these:

Freelance Writer
Freelance Reporter
Staff Writer or Editor
Staff Columnist
Staff Reporter
Freelance Columnist
Syndicated Columnist
Book Author
Press Release Writer
Marketing Copywriter

And the types of employer one can work with include:


Be your own boss (as a freelancer)
Fashion and/or beauty magazine publisher
Fashion and/or beauty newsletter publisher
Daily newspaper
Weekly newspaper
Book packager
Research firm
Trend consultant
Book publisher
Public relations firm

In order to be a fashion editor, one can get an


internship and then go about pursuing the same as a career.
One can get a summer internship or an after-school
internship during the school year. While still in school or
college, one can even go for an internship at a local
newspaper or magazine in order to gain a job experience
without too many hassles. The next step should be to
investigate getting an internship at the absolute favorite
magazine or newspaper. Some magazines and newspapers
have programs for school students; others only hire college
students. During summer break, many magazines hire
hardworking college students who help put the magazine
together! A few internships may be paid for, but some
publications can only offer school credit. As an advice, one
should take up the job - whether it pays or not! The
experience one will get later on is priceless, since lots of
entry-level editorial assistants are hired because editors get
to know and respect them as interns.

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FASHION MAGAZINES

Fashion magazines are an essential component of the


fashion industry. They are the medium that conveys and
promotes the design’s vision to the eventual purchaser.
Balancing the priorities has led to the diversity of the
modern periodical market. Fashion, except in its lifestyle
sense or as a byword for vanity, played no part in early
periodical literature. In 1678, however, Donneau de Visé
first included an illustrated description of French fashions
with suppliers’ names in his ladies magazine, Le Mercure
galant, which is considered the direct ancestor of modern
fashion reports.

Thereafter, fashion news rarely reappeared in


periodical literature until the mid-eighteenth century when
it was included in the popular ladies handbooks and diaries.
Apparently in response to readers’ requests, such coverage
to the popular Lady’s Magazine (1770–1832) was added to
the genteel poems, music, and fiction that other journals
were already offering to their middle-class readers. By the
end of the eighteenth century, Lady’s Magazine had been
joined by many periodicals catering to an affluent
aspirational society. Interest in fashion was widespread and
it was included in quality general readership journals such
as the Frankfurt Journal der Luxus und der Moden (1786–
1827) and Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts, Literature,
Commerce, Fashion and Politics (1809–1828) as well as
those specifically for ladies. Despite the continental wars,
French style was paramount and found their way into most
English journals. Very popular with dressmakers was
Townsend’s Quarterly (later Monthly) Selection of Parisian
Costumes (1825–1888), beautifully produced unattributed
illustrations with minimal comment. The journals were
generally elite productions, well illustrated and highly
priced, though cheaper if uncolored. John Bell’s La belle
assembléé (1806–1821) was edited by Mary Anne Bell
between 1810 and 1820, also proprietor of a fashion
establishment. Dressmaker’s credits are rare, perhaps
because fashion establishments were dependent on
personal recommendation and exclusivity. By the middle of
the nineteenth century, the magazine, like other popular
literature, profited from improvements in printing methods,
lower paper costs, and lower taxation. Literacy levels had
risen and readership increased.

Many new titles were produced and fashion for all


types and ages were generally included in those for the
women’s market. Circulation figures were high; Godey’s
Lady’s Book (1830–1897) issued 150,000 copies in 1861 and
Samuel Beeton’s The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine
(1852–1897) issued 60,000. Advertisement increased but
the revenue rarely inhibited editorial independence. The
key to circulation was innovation, and Godey and Beeton
both added a shopping service and additional paper
patterns to those already available within the magazine. Up-
to-date fashion news was an essential and fashion plates as
well as embroidery designs came direct from Paris sources,
though in America they were often modified for home
consumption.

The wide-ranging informative articles, typical of the


“new journalism” were often written by women beginning to
be well established in the newspaper profession. By the end
of the century, there had been women editors at Godey, the
Demorest publications, 1860–1899, The Queen (c. 1860s)
and Myra’s Journal of Dress and Fashion (1875–1912).
Entertaining and practical guides for the average family,
this type of mid-market magazine had a long life, only
recently losing its popularity. Its main competitors were
shop catalogs and store magazines. High-fashion Paris news
was most easily accessible in the large format society
journals, the weekly illustrated newspapers, and La mode
illustrée (1860–1914), of which there was an English
edition. Semi-amateur fashion cum gossip columnists were
a feature of Gilded Age society, but the couture concerned
with their expanding international market were increasingly
professional about their publicity, and well-kept house
guard books were probably was useful for press promotion
as they were to designers and clients.
Through its Chambre Syndicale, the couture was
organizing its own fashion journal, Les modes (1901–1937).
Its innovative and informative photographic illustrations
made it an anthology of high status Paris design by the end
of the century. In 1911 Lucien Vogel offered the couture an
even more modern shop window in the elitist Gazette du
bon ton (1911–1923), the precursor of the small pochoir
(stencil) illustrated fashionable journals characteristic of
the avant-garde press of the early twentieth century.

It is a tribute to their vision that a men’s style


publication was included. Monsieur (1920–1922) was a
complete break with the stereotyped format and trade
jargon of the tailoring journals. It was not followed until
Esquire (1933– ), described as the male counterpart to
Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, updated the male fashion
image, stressing a harmony between clothes and lifestyle.
High fashion was reinterpreted for the American market
when Vogue was taken over by Condé Nast Publications in
1909. His publishing experience had shown that a rich and
aspirational American society wanted practical fashion
guidance and a direct line to Paris. Vogue coverage is global
in the early 2000s, and foreign editions make their own
assessments of the fashionable and the salable. Until his
death in 1942, Condé Nast maintained meticulous control of
the quality and service he believed were owed to his readers.
Vogue archives provide insight into the management of
quality fashion publication in a twentieth-century world.
The contributors, editors, designers, photographers, and
artists who have enriched the Vogue pages over the years
add another essential layer of information.

As fashion pace increased, the fashion publication


scene was stimulated by developments at Women’s Wear
Daily (WWD), after the Fairchild family purchased it in
1909 as a conventional trade paper for the garment trade.
Its offshoot, W (1972– ) was developed by John Fairchild,
the son of the founder, to have “the speed of a
newspaper . . . with the smart look of a fashion magazine”
and significantly, its survival depended on advertisement.
News “scoops” were competed for ruthlessly. Vogue secured
the designs for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress in 1947,
WWD obtained Princess Margaret’s in 1960, plus the
annual Best-Dressed List. Assessment of style change was
more problematic and it was the role of the fashion editor to
balance designer’s contribution and public acceptance. It
was a tribute to both when magazines and public supported
Dior’s New Look in 1947, despite trade and government
opposition. Increasingly dependent on advertising, the
conventional magazine is challenged if fashion deviates
from established trends. The “lead in” time for a quality,
full-color journal is generally two months—too long for the
speed of street fashion and its high-spending, young, and
trendy clientele. This readership was not targeted until 1976
when Terry Jones, originally from Vogue, developed the
U.K. magazine i-D, with its apparently spontaneous fanzine
look. Its original message, “It isn’t what you wear but how
you wear it,” had little appeal for the clothing trade but it
has found its niche market in the early 2000s and is the
prototype “young fashion” magazine. Despite the number of
fashion magazines currently available, it is probable that
most people appreciate fashion through the daily press, the
popular lifestyle and celebrity magazines, television, and the
Web. With advertising pressures and the sheer volume of
clothing choices in an affluent society, it is not unexpected
that these popular magazines react by judging celebrities
not by their designer clothes, but by the way that they wear
them.

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