In a far-off world of fashion, ambiguity, and androgyny exists Vague Paper
, Matthew Holyrod's wonderfully complex publication that parodies the "serious business" of Vogue
(and magazines like it). Everything Anna Wintour would shun from her mainstream publication and more, Vague Paper
is full of gender-skewing, taboo-pushing, and crude satire, all perpetuated by a running list of outrageous characters (e.g. Anna Summours, Vague
's original Editor-in-Chief; Dumb Dyke, the intellectual brunette investigator; and Poxy Knoxy, the teenage serial killer).
Because, sometimes, fashion needs obscenity, violence, and humor to make its world go 'round, we at Opening Ceremony jumped at the opportunity to distribute current and archived issues of Vague Paper. We got a chance to talk with the man behind the mag to properly introduce its ambiguities!
BN: Can you tell me about the beginnings of Vague Paper?
MH: The first issue actually had a different name--it was called, "I Haven’t Laughed So Much, Since My Auntie Caught Her Tit in the Mangle." It was sort of like the 0 Issue; it was a taste for Issue 1. It kind of followed the same mood and themes of Issue 1, and with Issue 1, we kind of extended it. In the back of the 0 Issue, there was an illustration--a cover for Vogue--and we changed its title to "Vague." So, we decided to call the next issue Vague Paper.
BN: What from your background led to the publication's start?
MH: I pursued art and fashion degrees. I also think [Vague] goes with the cutthroat and kind of dark [theme that] is very British; we have a very macabre sense of humor, and we really wanted to portray that in the publication, and also to get a bigger dig at the fashion industry, because it is quite serious. I think [Vague] became a lot darker as the issues have gone on--more melodramatic--and some of the subject matters that we are investigating are serious.
BN: Vague Paper is essentially your brainchild, down to the art direction, photography, and styling. What is your personal creative process, from the issue ideas to the shoot ideas that make up Vague?
MH: Over the last couple of issues, I have tried to make it quite self-confessional, and a little bit more about myself. So, I research subject matters. For instance, this issue was the teenage issue, so we went to all the 18-year-old student graduate shows to see their work. Also, with that issue, we worked with Blommers & Schumm
, who, when I was a teenager were huge and in Purple
magazine. Using them was sort of a reference to me being a teenager in the 90s and to all the fashion magazines Blommers & Schumm were shooting. I guess just finding out as much about a subject area as possible. I guess the clothing is really meant to aid the photograph, more than it being about the clothes--and obviously that is an essential part, because we have subjects in the photograph, and the clothing is very important to make it atmospheric. I guess with Vogue
and magazines like that, the way they work is they are review magazines. Vague Paper
's not, and a lot of the editorials you see in those magazines are business, and they need to make money, and I guess we don't do that. We're not trying, hence, there are no adverts in our magazine.
BN: Issue 1 was re-released to celebrate Vague's 4th anniversary. Can you tell us a bit about that?
MH: It actually started out as a bit of a money-making idea, because I noticed that Issue 1 was selling on eBay for, like, £30, so maybe I should re-issue some of issue 1, since I had a few in the office, and it was, of course, our anniversary.
BN: What would Anna think if she got her hands on Vague Paper?
MH: Well, she's been killed off in this issue--Foxy Amanda Knox has slaughtered her, so she is kind of old news. But I think she probably does have a copy--she was given one during Fashion Week, but I am not really sure what her reaction was. Actually, I think she would find it quite funny; hopefully she still retains her English sense of humor and can laugh at herself.
BN: Now that Poxy Knoxy has taken over Vague in the current Teenage Wife issue, what is in store for the publication's future?
MH: Unfortunately, Poxy Knoxy is not able to do the next issue. The next issue will be Men and Children, and I am sure we will have a nice surprise for who the next guest editor is. Maybe David Hamilton?
BN: Do you have a favorite character in Vague Paper?
MH: Yeah, there is a model-prostitute from Poland who appears in several issues, and she always seems to get murdered at the end of it. She is quite funny; she is quite desperate to be famous, and resurrect.
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