Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Québécois Fashion Bibles

Okay, I admit it - I'm one of those. Cancon is not the first thing I reach for, flip to or click on at the magazine stand, bookstore, on TV or on the Internet. I love foreign media products. Hong Kong cinema and gossip rags, American TV shows and European magazines just make my day.

The only exceptions to the Cancon rule are Fashion Canada, Lainey Gossip (not sure if it counts as Cancon at all, but Lainey is Canadian) and Québec fashion magazines. In fact, every time I go to Québec, I absolutely have to pick up the latest issues on the stands.

I've always loved Québécois fashion because it's sort of inspired by European style (like how Toronto fashion is influenced by New York style and Vancouver by LA). And okay, superficially, I have to admit that I feel cool just for being able to read these mags - I've worked really hard since grade four to be able to! Additionally, I appreciate that Québec has its own vibrant culture.

During my trip last weekend I realized that the Québec fashion publications scene has evolved quite a bit since the summer of 2005, when I spent 5 weeks in Rivière-du-Loup doing the Summer Language Bursary Program (now called Explore). Apart from Clin d'oeil, my French-Canadian fashion bible then, now there is also Elle Québec and Filles Clin d'oeil (FCD).

Let me break it down for you.

Elle Québec is more artsy and very fashion-heavy - full of Fashionland news, beauty spreads, great fashion spreads, all the Major Shows condensed stylishly onto the pages, with a touch of literature/film/art/culture info. Clin d'oeil, while also technically a fashion magazine, is just slightly more lifestyle-oriented, because of the genre of the articles, and more about clothes you can actually buy. I love both, but I must admit, I was a little disappointed with Clin d'oeil's fashion spreads this issue because I wouldn't buy anything on those pages. I don't know if it's the clothes themselves or the art direction - but I do believe that tie-dye is supremely tacky 90% of the time.

And FCD is clearly geared towards the younger set. The graphics design and layout are very hip, and I find the clothes generally way more wearable. Or at least, they're more like what I would buy. And even though I don't love the beauty section (the glittery smoky eye looks more "battered woman" than "rock star" to me) the features are more fun and relevant to my age group - the cover proudly exclaims, "PARTYS, BEAUX GARS, STARS, CRÈMES GLACÉES"). I like this one best (although Elle comes a close second!) probably because I'm firmly in the target sector of this publication, and I'm glad that the younger demographic of Québécois fashion girls is finally taken care of in the print arena.

The only issue is the age-old problem of wanting what you can't have. While it's great that everything is attainable domestically in these magazines, I think part of the appeal of spreads in foreign mags is the fact that I can't have what I see. I can only stare and admire. I know - it sounds so sick, right? I clearly have a problem. But I think that kind of appeal is akin to that of many expensive things and luxury items, don't you?

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