Back in 1998 I saw the tight little package that was Purple magazine at Tower Records in New Orleans and I lusted after it immediately. It was the first magazine I had ever seen that encapsulated an art, fashion and 'zine sensibility all in one. Most spectacularly it was small (8.5" X 6.25") and fat - with a shocking (at the time) number of matte, single color pages. It satisfied all my print desires - even the ones I didn't know I had. It had excellent fiction, avant guard fashion, art photography and illustration. Purple magazine is what really began to make me think about the possibilities of what a magazine could be and do.

Times change. The Purple look, the aesthetic of incredibly wealthy people trying to look "real" in astoundingly expensive avant guard clothing, which once seemed revolutionary, has grown not only trite, but completely boring (and not in the ironic sense, I'm afraid). Trust fund Euros and princes, without art direction and make-up, wearing rumpled Comme Des Garçons, the morning after a binger in a Mise en scène reminiscent of John Cassavetes is just plain grating. That is not to say that Purple Fashion magazine doesn't currently have mouth-watering photography by some of the most influential photographers working today, or that its fashion styling portrays anything less than the most refined of tastes - but its editorial direction and purpose have become entirely irrelevant. It no longer attempts to be progressive or original - it has simply become a business trying to perpetuate itself. The "art" angle of Purple has become entirely vapid.

It took me a long time to push Purple aside, since I had once lusted after it so ferverently. It's fetish appeal began to fade when it split into two magazines, Purple Fashion Magazine (no lovely matte paper) and Purple Journal (which is not bad at all), and grew to a more conventional size. Further, Purple Fashion mag is infuriatingly shrunk wrapped at the newsstand so you can't browse it before buying! The death knell for Purple, of course, was featuring the greasy poltroon, Vincent Gallo, on it's most recent cover.

Vincent Gallo is the most ridiculous indicator of the sheep mentality of the "hipster" market. Only a jelly-kneed, white-bread suburban refugee would ever mistake this moron for "cool." Gallo, who's only real talent is his ability to market himself to weak-willed editors, will only allow himself to be featured in a magazine if he is put on the cover. Grotesque. The good thing is... we have the perfect marker for judging a book by its cover, so we can save some money.

Comments (2)

I can't agree more. Europe is developing many more exciting titles, even though they don't have the budget of Purple. In particular there is ample scope to cover fashion and the arts without patronising readers. I read a Purple article about riots in Paris and it was so detached from reality, and devoid of any feelings: Purple operates in an ivory tower and writing is a triumph of style over substance. I find that free magazines like DIF (Lisbon), Rendez Vous (Paris), H (Barcelona), Code (Brussels) or some of the titles that have popped up around Europe are much edgier and closer to grassroots trends. Often, they try to bring in a real sense of involvement in political and social issues too, instead of glossing over them.


I always thought that Purple was detached from reality.
In a way THAT is their direction. Always has been.

I actually really like Purple but the air of a certain French blasè attitude was always there - if you ask me. Even more so then in Mainstream Fashion mags.

Thank good they got a different look though...

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