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The language of the glossy


The style of glossy publications is often perplexing: verbal vignettes, chants of “luxury” and “luxury”; language that real people never speak. “Afisha” gathered the editors of the gloss and found out why everything is so and how it can be otherwise.

Birger: You’ve all been working in gloss for a dozen years — has the way people write about fashion changed in that time?

Belyakov: the lexicon has been Greatly enriched. I remember very well when I started working at Vogue in 2004. And how Alyona Doletskaya — then editor-in-chief-called me into the office and asked: “Lesh, here, look, you need to write what to call this bag, in English it’s clutch, and how will it be in Russian?» We thought and thought — and decided :” and we will sign “clutch”. There was no such word before, and now, I think, colleagues will give a lot of similar examples.

Tikhonovich: When I joined InStyle magazine in 2005, I was in the second or even third wave of glossy journalists, who are by no means trailblazers, but who learned from trailblazers. My teacher, in particular, was Olga Mikhailovskaya — in my opinion, one of the best fashion journalists in the country. Some stamps then appeared, whole constructions of sentences; a lexicon that helped not to descend into these stories in the style of “the style of the house of models on Kuznetsky Most of the 80’s”. The modern glossy language has been formed. In General, Russian speech, in my opinion, is not very well designed for writing about fashion and analyzing it. It is difficult not to go either into outright vulgarity or old-fashioned. I specifically then studied articles on in English, I wrote out the names of things for myself, and tried to get away from the cliches of “elegant everyday life, everyday elegance”by trial and error. Our problem is that in Russia there is no school that prepares people for fashion journalism, and the authors try to compensate for the lack of knowledge with these meaningless phrases. First of all, I tried to fight this, because I also have no education in this field.

Kompaniets: In any gloss, it just so happens, there is a field out the obvious editorial control. Because people mostly came from more serious journalism, and, accordingly, it was the major texts, interviews, and reports that were first edited. And some things were beyond such thoughtful control — it was always fashion, two-line headlines for fashion shoots, the notorious beauty, PR notes. All normal editors with disgust perceived this — they say, I am a person with a philological, historical and any other good education, I can not, I am above it. And the fight against this approach has not yet been invented. That fashion-that beauty-writers in Russia units. This is our terrible trouble, because a lot of material will be edited by any good editor of the category “Cinema” or “Music”, any just smart person, but fashion, beauty or PR articles are … [end]. At one time, I remember, Philip Bakhtin, who was just starting his career at FHM, fought wildly — almost to the point of fighting — with the guys from the PR and commercial Department. In other words, I tried to make the texts interesting to read, but in the end, in my opinion, and he spat on it, because it is absolutely useless occupation.

Tikhonovich: In my opinion, we not only do not have a language for talking about fashion, but in General, lifestyle journalism is in the ass. There is an acute shortage of people who could do investigative journalism, only in the field of lifestyle. Not about Ukraine, not about Navalny, but about how the fashion industry works. There are not enough such guys on the market, so there is no one to create a language.


Birger: Did you manage to track where all these phrases about luxury-luxury-wealth and other cliches come from in the texts about fashion?

Tikhonovich: Such trouble, as Igor noticed, is mostly found in small texts. Because writing a small text about fashion is a thousand times more difficult than writing a long one. I remember rewriting it two hundred times, and I could think about a four-line paragraph all day. The reason is that there is no knowledge of the material. There is a certain subjective perception of fashion, imposed by the society of the beginning of the noughties — that this is really the inhabitants of heaven, that this is a kind of beautiful life, “elite luxury”. And this, so to speak, poetry of wealth began to replace knowledge.

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Birger: In the sense of not “this dress refers to the forms adopted in the 50s” and so on, it is easier to write that it is elite, because it is just like Audrey Hepburn?

Belyakov: Yes, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Carrie Bradshaw.

Birger: Often the demand to write in this crazy language, which we used to call “luxury luxury of wealth” when I was working at GQ, comes from customers — managers of fashion brands. And the editors have to indulge these requests, because otherwise they will not give advertising. But the real customer in the magazine is not the PR Department of the brand, but the end user, a person with money. And it always seemed doubtful to me that he really needed to write like that.

Companiets: you Know, five years ago I first found myself in a village called “Barvikha Luxury Village” – not as a journalist, I designed the mercury music show. Special, private, not tomovski — for those who live there. And I found that people there actually talk like that. That is, they actually pronounce the word “elite”, “exclusive”. I also thought it was just some kind of psychedelia that accompanies our work as a kind of curse. But no. Who set these rules, I don’t know, but nevertheless they really talk like this — this is a phenomenon that you can write a book about.

Birger: well, maybe they do talk like that, but should it be a guide for the author? It seems to me that even a glossy magazine has one of the main journalistic tasks — to be head and shoulders above its readers and lead them. And not to descend to its level and try to match it in every possible way.

Belyakov: in Allure, this is the approach that warms me. We try to work with images. I don’t like adjectives — they are long. And I sometimes ask the editor — in-chief Ksenia: “I want to say that this color overflow on the hair-it’s like on Titian’s canvases. Is that too much?» And she says: «Normally. They may not know who Titian is, but they will understand, or perhaps even want to know.”

Birger: the language that was Formed in the nineties was primarily a reaction to the official Soviet style, its opposite — hence this nabokovism and dovlatovism of the standards set by Kommersant. At that time, we were in a hurry to completely erase the Soviet legacy — you did not try to write in a more dry, direct language, and what did you get out of it?

Tikhonovich: In fact, nothing good usually happens, because, again, the Russian language is completely unsuited for this. It turns out to be a press release thing that no one will read. In other words, a good fashion text should have a lot of adjectives, and the author should have a creative mind in any case. This is a feature of the language. Plus, if we talk about the old vocabulary, there are, for example, three words that define a person who is engaged in fashion clothing: “couturier”, “fashion designer”and ” designer”. Both “couturier” and” fashion designer ” are taboo today.

Belyakov: “Couturier” is no longer at all.

Kompaniets: “fashion Designer” — is that the one who began in the ‘ 80s.

Tikhonovich: In General, “designer”, we all have designers. There is also the word “style”, which is also outdated. What do we use now? “Cut”, “silhouette”. But in fact, now many journalists do not hesitate to return to these words back. Even my perception of the word “style” is not, in General, negative.

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Belyakov: At us in “Allure”, let’s say, the word “make-up” is practically forbidden, instead of “make-up”. I personally do not like the word “make-up” very much, it seems to smell like grandma’s powder, but I have accepted this rule, and it does not contradict my basic principles. Although, let’s say, when I worked at Tatler, everything was the opposite — the synthesis of Anglo-Russian-Rublevsky.

Birger: Yes, there was a reaction, I got tired of dry language, and now, apparently, they are beginning to understand that it was suitable for operating with facts.

Tikhonovich: Maybe, Yes. By the way, he was very focused on talking about cutting and sewing, about the subject of fashion. Which probably added weight to it. It’s better than “casual elegance”, but still fashion is more than just clothes. And then it was not fashion, just cutting and sewing.

Birger: indeed, fashion is also a culture. Not in the sense of “art”, it just reflects everything that is happening around. And those who write about fashion often forget that changes in culture and in the country also affect fashion trends. And instead of “elite” and cut-style, you can just try to reveal this background. Here is someone who could, for example, draw a parallel between the Maidan and the new collections of Ukrainian designers?

Tikhonovich: I don’t think politics has a Direct influence on fashion — it depends on spontaneous design imagination. Although if we draw Parallels between the Maidan and Ukrainian designers, then, probably, since there is a war now, we will find some things related to it.

Birger: Yes, well, at least the banal predominance of the blue-yellow palette. And there is still a connection-the same Simachev, in whose institution we are now sitting, accurately caught and displayed changes in society.

Belyakov: Simachev caught well!

Tikhonovich: Well, we recently released a very resonant text about Dolce and Gabbana, about their statements against gay marriage. This material is just the case when fashion is dissected as a social phenomenon. Our Golden feather, Elena Stafeeva wrote. She even draws a parallel — that the very clothes of Dolce and Gabbana are as archaic as these looks. But there was a good reason-the scandal with their statements, and so, I think, we all come down to a descriptive story: on the one hand, “elegant everyday life”, on the other — cutting and sewing, silhouette, and so on. This, by the way, is another technique for those who are not very good at the subject — you can just study the minimal dictionary of sartorial and stupidly quote it. Jacket with a peplum, collar so-and-so. I remember there were huge columns in the “Kommersant-Weekend”, they could describe one shirt George sand for a long time: what kind of plank it has, how it closes the buttons, how the seam on the collar goes… I don’t know what, well, on the front part.

Birger: and you couldn’t explain why this is important?

Tikhonovich: Yes, and this is usually done when there is no conceptual thinking. When you look down on things a little bit, stand above them and try to build a certain concept, such texts are valuable, and they are read. And pathetic meaningless and subject dry history — do not read. Read everything where there is a certain concept, unifying idea.

Belyakov: I will Express an optimistic thought about this. In the same publishing house Condé Nast, I now see young girls (I will not mention their names, so that they do not become proud) — and I like the way they write, how they joke, I like everything about them. They will replace me, and it will be a new class, a new language. Here we, the pensioners of gloss, did it-did it, laid the Foundation, and now they will build something on this Foundation. And everything will be fine.

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