Friday, July 20, 2007

From Guardian Unlimited Arts column 27th April 2007

Scoops and Stilettos: gritty as well as glossy
Grazia looked like a fun place to work, which is presumably why ONE Life didn't feel the need to turn this interesting film about the magazine into a caricature.
April 27, 2007 3:55 PM Grazia editor Jane Bruton in the ONE Life documentary. It's rare that fashion and glossy magazines are treated by television as anything other than the most frivolous load of nonsense, perfect fodder for Ab Fab-style piss-taking. So it was refreshing to see BBC1's ONE Life strand play it straight last Tuesday with Scoops and Stilettos, a film about Grazia magazine.
What was interesting, too, was discovering that despite its mix of fashion news and celebrity gossip alongside features that actually engage with the real world (and indeed the real world beyond the British coastline), Grazia's ethos is more akin to a weekly newspaper than a monthly glossy.
There is no The Devil Wears Prada-style glamorous retreat of an office for editor Jane Bruton, who may dress like an editrix and spend inordinate amounts of her working life air-kissing Giorgio Armani in Milan, but also sits alongside her editorial team on the shop floor. And though she heads a team of 40, none of the staff appear to carry those Third Assistant Editor of Shoes job titles that litter the upmarket monthlies.
Despite being raised on diet of my mother's Cosmos and developing enough of an addiction to the smell of scent strips to want to make a career in magazines, with the exception of Vanity Fair and the occasional slap of property porn, I no longer regularly buy a monthly glossy because they seem so extraordinarily divorced from the way people currently live their lives. Probably because a magazine that has a production lead-time of three months - ie the current May issues were being worked on at the beginning of the year - cannot in any way begin to compete in the world of 24-hour rolling news and instant, all-areas web access.
Grazia's strength, and its success, is in knowing that we are increasingly greedy for information, and that this is the future, so whether or not what narrator Max Beesley called "Hort Kerture" and Grazia's revolving Kate Moss/Jennifer Aniston/Victoria Beckham/Elizabeth Hurley covers are of the faintest interest to you, it's difficult not to take seriously a magazine that applies a hard-nosed news-gathering agenda to frothy girlie stuff.
I loved the scenes of the fashion editors being papped walking down the street, simply because they were being trailed by a camera crew at the time. "We're nobody!" they shouted, but that didn't stop the pap, because nobody is just a nobody anymore.
And it was amusing to watch the young fashion news team out partying professionally. Quizzing Designer of the Year Giles Deacon on whom he may or may not be dressing for the Baftas, Deacon remained predictably tight-lipped, while on the other side of the room Thandie Newton could hardly have been more forthcoming. "He's dressing me and Helen Mirren," she said, without missing a beat. Whether you're working the Westminster beat or the fashion crowd, getting the answers you want is always a buzz.
Grazia looked like a fun, occasionally stressful, place to work, which is probably one of the reasons why it's Britain's fastest growing women's glossy. And presumably why ONE Life didn't feel the need to turn the film into a caricature. I've long thought there's a great, gritty, sexy continuing drama to be made about glossy magazines (and I don't mean Ugly Betty). Perhaps as magazines themselves evolve to embrace the gritty alongside the glossy, the time will be right.

1 comment:

Angie said...

Hahahahah doesn't take much to get a scoop outta Thandie... The woman is just so forthright... I doubt we'll see her at next year's Bafta with the work she's doing this year, but I hope 2008 will be a better one for her.