In the building where my fabulously mysterious husband works they have free magazines on offer – one’s you would normally have to pay a few pounds for – that he picks up and brings home to me. I’ve received an issue of Glamour, one of Cosmopolitan, and another that was lesser known than the first two but whose content was equally boring and forgettable that I even forgot the name.
The latest glossy to land in my tiny hands was the large first edition of the re-booted LUXX, produced by The Times. LUXX’s first life lasted from 2007 to 2013 and has been revived in time for Christmas 2016 and to recommence its quarterly publication in 2017. The magazine comes as an insert in the Saturday edition of The Times and is aimed at affluent readers, as The Times claims they reach more homes earning over £150,000 than any other UK papers.
The magazine is definitely not meant for me. It is meant for people who have a flat large enough to have either a dining table or desk or coffee table – probably all three – on which to place this giant, nearly square, publication.
It is meant for people who don’t look at the garish use of white space on each page thinking, “did you really need to use so much of a non-renewable material to convince people you’re fancy?”
It is meant for those who have time and inclination to read about the newest super-yacht, a Bugatti you can design yourself, and where you can pick up a “four-figure scent” to go with both the yacht and car.
It is meant for someone who can read an article originally published by every media site ever in 2015 about how to get more Likes on Instagram and not gag at the fact that the author simultaneously tries to honestly educate the reader while trying desperately to sound like he couldn’t give two shits about being social media popular.
And most importantly, for me: it is meant for people who don’t notice or don’t care that their two fashion spreads, one for women and one for men, are cringingly sexist and ageist.
Shall we begin with the titles? The women’s fashion spread is called “Costume drama” while the men’s is called “Call of the wild.” Because the ideas that women are all about dressing up and being emotional, while men are physically and mentally able to heed the call to challenge nature, are completely original and not out-dated…
The men’s spread, obviously, features outerwear and knitwear, and a pretty cute dog, nearly all shot outside, portraying the model as an active participant in the wild UK outdoors. Meanwhile the woman’s spread features sheer dresses paired with items meant to give them an “edge.” It remains unclear which item, the sheer dress or it’s edgy mate, is meant to be either a costume or the drama. (For an actual fashion spread featuring actual costume drama I would suggest Annie Leibovitz’s Wizard of Oz Vogue feature with Keira Knightly from 2005.)
Fashion media is sadly so predictable that it feels excessive to mention that both models are white and, especially considering the titles, that they are portraying heteronormative ideas. But what does stand out here is that our male model has a ruggedly wrinkled face with salt and pepper scruff. Of course he never smiles, but looks thoughtful and contained and like his heart is so hardened that not even the cute dog could give him joy. Our male model is over 50 and seems to be the type of man who might read this magazine.
Our female model, however, is 27. That’s nearly the exact age difference between me and my father. She’s an actress and model so she can probably afford the clothing she was styled in, but can her peers or her Instagram followers afford it? So, who is this young, thin model meant for with her sheer dresses, unwearable shoes, and passive poses? Rather than selling a £13,500 cuff, I suspect she is being used to sell her youth and femininity to remind the wives of men like our male model of the ideal they need to keep pursuing.
LUXX is meant for readers who still subscribe to the ancient ideas of the rugged, masculine man and the passive, feminine girl.
LUXX might think of its readers as affluent, classy and discerning, but with this first edition of the re-booted quarterly they seem to think that their readers are old-fashioned and out of touch with trends. Or maybe if your household does make more than £150,000 per year you truly don’t care about trivial issues like the environment, social media’s myriad of negative effects, or gender equality. Someone give me £150,000 and I’ll let you know if it changes me into a socially conservative old fogey.