Let’s Read Vanity Fair, September 1988!

Vanity Fair started in its earliest incarnation as Dress in 1913, one of Mr. Conde Nast himself’s first magazines. It had its ups and downs, eventually being absorbed into Vogue in the 30s and then revived as its own publication again in the early 80s, which was very successful. It continues to attract excellent writers, interviews, and photography on multiple aspects of culture, particularly fashion as a central theme. If you’re wondering what the real difference is between Vanity Fair and Vogue, I’d say that Vogue is slightly more obsessed with socialites, particularly of the Old Golden Days of Debutantes, and Vanity Fair is just a hair more focused on Hollywood. Vogue has Anna Wintour, Vanity Fair is a little less iconic (but not much, as you’ll see) in terms of editorship. Both magazines are owned by Conde Nast Publications.

If you remember from a few magazines ago, I touched on Tina Brown taking over Tatler in the 70s before moving on to American Vanity Fair in the 80s. Turning Tatler’s focus towards the glamorous and scandal-filled lives of the young British royals turned the magazine’s readership around, and Brown brought that over to America.

This masterpiece of understated elegance is available at Trump Tower, the most elegant mall in the universe. Go fig.

Hi Audrey Hepburn! Man, that copy is stretching it. But it doesn’t matter if Audrey Hepburn is your model and looks that good when she’s pushing 60.

I dislike this table of contents. Way too much text, and they couldn’t splurge for color in one of the most vital parts of a magazine? This leaves me with the impression that it’s not designed to be something read slavishly from cover-to-cover and is more designed to be browsed through, such as in a hair salon waiting room.

The lighting in this ad is doing terrifying things to Paulina Porizkova’s throat. There’s some subliminal imagery turning her into that freaky Lady Gaga Black Swan. FASHION.

Patrick Kelly set the fashion world on fire as the hot new thing in the late 80s, but sadly he only lived for a few years after this. You get one guess as to what he died from.

Yes, there is something about AIDS in every issue of every magazine from the 80s, no matter what the magazine is. If you are too young to remember the 80s and early 90s, AIDS was more than a health crisis: it was a bonafide national obsession.

J.S. Storm (If that is his REAL NAME) up there suddenly has an issue with a group of entitled rich men wearing fancy suits and objectifying women and roaming around with an entourage. Gee, wonder what the stick up his ass could be.

You can read the original “Black Pack” story here.

I love that they made her hair mimic the peaks of the shoulderpads. What would you even wear this to? A cocktail party? A court date? Your kid’s open house night?

These ads have such a similar look to them and are placed right next to each other, so it took me a good minute to figure out that Fendi had not partnered with a stationary company to sell perfume. And of course, it is my habit to take a good sniff and see if the perfume sample lingers, and it does! It must have been a damn strong musk to have survived after thirty years.

This is what you’re all here for.

Ooh daddy I’m so helpless

Between this and Heathers, monocles were having a moment in 1988. I want to believe that looking like a cartoon Eastern European assassin with a monocle was the fashion of the day. I really, really do.

“This is my summer fur. You really must enjoy it with the naked men set, it makes all of the difference.”

“Are the arrangements made, Herbert?”

“Yes, Margaret. The planets have aligned in the ancient sky, and soon their youth and beauty will be ours forever.”

Can you afford your own ego?

This was one of a series of three separate Eternity photos all designed to tell a story about a gorgeous youthful supermodel family being gorgeous and youthful at a pristine beach. Eternity cologne, stopping a moment in time forever, the scent instantly bringing you back to that moment of perfect serenity and contentment. Notice that the little girl is looking at the model’s body admiringly while the model is clinging to the little boy, sheltering him with protective maternal instinct and at the same time looking like she’s trying to absorb him – his innocence, his youth, his uncomplicated life. The prominence of children in adult high fashion photography is particularly striking in this issue, and even though I made a joke about it in the Perrier ad above I find it a little unsettling over just how much the fashion camera obsesses over children. The hunger for youth is downright predatory.


I started seeing too many of the same evil looking rich white people in haute business clothes after a while and just began to cast them in a nighttime soap about a law firm. Without further ado:

Douglas Brewer, Senior Partner at Brewer & Glass LLP. Hobbies: closing down at-risk youth centers, struggling churches, and orphanages to build malls. Douglas is a sharp negotiator but cold, greedy, sexist, and now in the position of Brewer family patriarch after his elderly billionaire parents mysteriously died in a fire during La Traviata.

Marvin Glass, Senior Partner, is never seen, and is only portrayed by a series of fax machine printouts.

(There was a facing page that provided the [The finest] half of that sentence, but it wasn’t worth including)

Joyce Fellows, executive assistant to Douglas Brewer. Likes: things in the shape of squares, jagged rocks, making children cry, Trump Tower. Hates: orphans, sweet old ladies, impromptu variety shows to raise funds to save the at-risk youth center. Harbors many deep secrets about the Brewer family. Outlives everyone on the show.

Todd Brewer, Doug’s scrappy fresh out of law school little brother. Naive in his belief in the power of goodness and finding himself at odds with Douglas at every turn, Todd leaves Brewer & Glass to start his own firm at the end of season one. Todd is revealed to be Douglas’s illegitimate son in season four, unbeknownst to both of them. Will the identity of Todd’s true mother bring them together, or shatter the family forever?

Maxine Brewer, Doug and Todd’s bubbly spoiled brat sister who returns from a long trip abroad in season two. After losing her memory in a plane crash during an attempted kidnapping, Maxine starts her life over in a peaceful Guatemalan village until a violent reminder of her past forces her to return to America. But who is the father of the baby she is carrying, and will he come looking for them at the Brewer family mansion?

Natalie North, high-powered attorney who takes no crap from anyone, not even Joyce. Will she turn down the offer of Senior Partner at Brewer & Glass to join Todd’s fledgling law firm? Who is the mysterious stranger who keeps leaving her mementos of her past? And why does she cry whenever she hears a Lionel Richie song?

Monica Aldritch-Firenze, billionaire jewelry heiress who hires B&G to represent her in her divorce from Marco Firenze. Seduces Todd Brewer to make Natalie jealous. Becomes possessed by the ghost of Todd’s mother in season four. Revealing the real reason why her marriage crumbled will change the lives of everyone – forever!

Marco Firenze, Italian aristocrat and on-again off-again husband of Monica. Has a second personality named “Hank” that only materializes in mirrors and in the reflection of his watch. “Hank” falls in love with Natalie but struggles to express himself as Marco finds himself torn between Monica and Maxine Brewer. “Hank” attempts to kidnap Maxine at the end of season two to prove his love to Natalie, but ultimately his private plane is shot down by Douglas over a gunpowder factory.  Marco, presumed dead, returns at the end  of season three with “Hank” manifested as a puppet made from a Gucci sock fitted over his prosthetic hand.

Brewer’s Heights, Wednesday nights at 9 on CBS!

Imagine the tan lines you’d get from these.

When you’re Iman, you can make floating your disembodied head above your shoulders work.

You know, the real benefit to black-and-white photography is that the cocaine blends in really well.

Ok, admittedly the whole point of Comme des Garcons is that the brand is youthful and funky, but again – I find this to be beautifully shot but unintentionally unsettling.

Someone else’s better scan that doesn’t chop off half the poor girl’s head in the magazine gutter.

A late 80s update on the formerly wild life of Margaret Trudeau. No, that is not Justin Trudeau’s butt.

Check out teenage dweebmeister Justin in the center of the picture.

“I wasn’t manic depressive, I was just either in the fast lane or the slow lane”. Ma’am, that’s kind of the very definition of manic depression? Given the tone of the article that casts a critical eye on even the existence of bipolar disorder, let alone the viability of treatment, it isn’t surprising at all that it took a few more nervous breakdowns and hospitalizations and a few more decades before she finally came out as bipolar in 2006.

Drawing attention to the ad on the left…who wouldn’t want to see high-fashion portraits of Raquel Welch being attacked by a dog? The “Grace Jones rear” photos are probably the portraits of her and Dolph Lundgren, which aren’t particularly work-safe and I’ll let you discover those on your own.

Still married today! Maria Cuomo Cole, sister of Chris and Andrew. Despite the prediction, Kenneth Cole has stuck to what he does best, which is mostly designing shoes and social justice activism. Their first child that was “imminently arriving” at the time of the article would be Emily Cuomo Cole, who went on to be a lawyer for the Hilary Clinton 2016 campaign. They grow up so fast.


RRRRAAAGE time: I received this magazine with the first four pages of the Princess Diana article missing. Immaculately missing, not as if they had been torn out but like they had never been in the magazine to begin with, or maybe they had been snuck into the magazine disguised as a Gucci ad, but after looking through the whole issue page-by-page at least four times I had to concede that they weren’t there. BUT, thankfully, Vanity Fair has the whole shaboozy digitized, pictures and all.


  • People thought Sarah Ferguson was cool at first and gave Diana a break from the spotlight for a while, then Fergie got annoying and her friends (among them Cara Delevigne’s parents) were embarrassing and so everyone went back to dumping on Diana for everything.
  • Everyone’s just totally cool with Princess Anne staying in a miserable loveless marriage forever because they know how to behave in public, unlike SOME people. Thank goodness they actually did get a divorce a few years later.
  • Charles and Di are totally incompatible! Imagine that! But it’s fine, because money!
  • Diana’s BFF is named “Flicky Pleydell-Bouverie” and her friends call her “Princhey” for some reason.
  • The ending with its fear mongering what if Diana finds herself another man and we don’t know how to deal with it is rather chilling, knowing what we do now. And, no, I don’t give a single ounce of credibility to the conspiracy theory that the palace set up the car crash in order to stop Diana from marrying a Muslim.

As much as I hate to break up a two-page spread, I think you all deserved the best possible look at Princess Michael’s Royal Stank Face behind her binoculars. It is a thing of beauty.


A great noir story – rich scumbucket Manhattan art dealer gets in a tiff with hot S&M hookup, art dealer ALLEGEDLY orders his bodyguard to shoot said hot hookup, charred remains with pretty face still attached are found on the bodyguard’s property, bodyguard confesses, art dealer walks free and bodyguard spends the next thirty years in prison. What did we all learn from this? It’s simple: if you’re going to burn a body, make sure you remove the gimp mask first.

A really good interview with Jodie Foster around the release of The Accused, which was her breakthrough into being taken seriously as an adult actress. The writers are forbidden to talk about the John Hinckley incident, but of course they put it in the headline anyway. The latter half of the article focuses on Jodie’s ambition to be a director, which sounds pretty lofty at the time, but she was directing movies barely a year after this interview came out.

I love this photo, but this is the most Annie Leibovitz photo to ever Annie Leibovitz.

From an article on Gianni Versace’s grand vila in Lake Como, Italy. I’m assuming this is just a candid shot of the family, like this is what they wear for a night in of board games and bagel bites.

I’m also presenting this part of the article because it’s amazing.

I have seen the future and Randy Travis is not in Young Guns.


Apparently there was a time when Russell Athletic was a top sportswear brand and not associated in my mind with the cheapest, frumpiest, worst-fitting sweatshirts ever made.

I have no idea what is actually being advertised here, or if this is an editorial, but hey look at these glamorous commies! This man will drive you to the “Bolshoi”. Getting back is your problem. If anyone asks, his name is Ivan and he is your cousin from St. Petersburg and these papers will prove it. Have plenty of cash on hand to buy his silence, and don’t forget to tip.

“And after we have confirmed that he has taken flattering pictures of me, we will shoot the photographer!”

She is rocking the formal shorts pantsuit long before anyone else tried it. This is the one situation where being a sentient pile of clothing means the difference between life and death.

Isabella Rosselini!

That’s it for this week! I can’t believe I’ve been doing these for a year. In addition to teaching myself a bunch about how to take photos of a print magazine with an iPhone in bad lighting, and how to use WordPress, I’ve learned so much about magazine design, history, culture, racism, sexism, and more through doing this feature. And a huge part of what has made this project so fun and kept me going every week for a year is the back and forth in the comments every week. Thank you so much to everyone who has read this feature and extra thanks to those who have regularly engaged in feedback. While I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up, I have a big enough backlog of magazines to coast into the next year – and now Avocados are even sending me magazines in the mail, so I’m well set!

Next week will be Cinefantastique from April 1993, a fan-driven magazine for people who like cheesy sci fi/horror/fantasy movies and TV (I certainly don’t know anyone who likes that stuff) and it features some lame forgotten show that I’m sure absolutely no one has any opinions on.