Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NOSTALGIA


Perhaps my favorite column in Vogue is “Nostalgia”. The simple title is self-explanatory: the column features poignant memoirs from writers sharing coming-of-age stories revolving around any host of intriguing characters, including elegant mentors, mysterious fathers, and devastating lovers. Ultimately, the main character becomes the author herself, as she grapples with her own dreams, insecurities, and spiritual growth. It is the vulnerable side of a magazine otherwise featuring impeccable ladies who have already achieved an intimidating volume of professional success, cultural intelligence, and ethereal beauty. (And of course, a killer  eff-ing wardrobe).

As a teenager in a small town whose circulation for this particular publication was undoubtedly less than half the staff it took to produce it, I felt a long way removed from the personalities featured on its glossy pages. Wrought with the pressures of fighting my way to a top university from an ambiguous high school and tip-toeing around the social minefield of Wet Seal-clad queen bees, I felt an unlikely kinship with the world of Vogue. I fell into the pages, considering them ambassadors of the highest art, manner, culture, and style. To me, the socials of New York were a breed of real ladies; the flat-chested, doe-eyed models the real standard of beauty; the skirt suits that Karl Lagerfeld sent down the Chanel runway were the real way I and everyone else should be dressing.

Of course, no fifteen-year-old ever feels they truly fit in normally with the rest of their peers, but my fantasies of haute couture in a world where Abercrombie & Fitch reigned supreme from a mall forty miles away created an even bigger sense of difference. Some days after fourth period I would duck into the library alone instead of going to lunch, pluck the plastic-covered current issue of Vogue from the wooden magazine rack, and spend my free hour at the table opposite a Ham Radio Club meeting, immersed in my fantasy world. I unwaveringly went first to the “Nostalgia” column, where I learned thirstily of Edie Sedgwick, Isabela Blow, Diana Vreeland, and Babe Paley– names unspoken by my TRL-obsessed generation.  But despite revolving around impossibly glamorous girls bubbling about town on hot nights elusive and irretrievable, the stories were simple and honest. I wondered, Would I grow to be so fabulous? And if so, what would I be nostalgic for? Which would I remember as my own irretrievable nights?

I hope we reflect on those days and nights gone by, the simple moments that made us who we are today. Here I will post some of those Vogue columns so salient in my memory, and add some of my own “Nostalgia”. I hope it inspires you to think about your own poignant moments, no matter how simple, that helped you achieve your own dreams, overcome your own insecurities, and come into your own.

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