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Anglomania: Missing the Boat in Today’s “T” Magazine

October 18, 2009
Samantha on T

Samantha on "T"

I hate to cavil, but something’s missing from the New York Times‘s “Anglomania Winter 2009” edition of T, the fashion magazine. Something big. It’s not young aristos and children of aging rockers that put the “cool” in Cool Britannia. It’s not punk club slackers or Vivienne Westwood or, God help us, skanky Kate Moss.

What makes England worth a fashionista’s page flips today is more likely to be found in an internet cafe than a Sloane ranger’s four-poster, more likely to be seasoned with curry than champagne. What’s energized England since the Falklands War and the closing of the coal mines is a fresh, polyglot discourse fed by Euro-fied, Asiatic, pan-Arab, Russian, what-have-you streams from far off the island. Also, brown skin. (And, I’m sorry, but Naomi Campbell doesn’t count.)

Britons’ number one favorite dish is chicken tikka, people, but T built its issue around cheesy, old-school memes meant to “symbolize” England  — the Pringle twin-set, for instance, and slang like “guv’nor.” When’d you last hear that in real life?.

That said, here are some (lily-white) highlights:

First, you gotta love cover girl Samantha Morton for choosing quirky characters and being sort of, how to put this nicely … anti-gorgeous. For a movie actress, anyway.  But the real kicker comes late in the Q-and-A, where she almost casually reveals the bitter backdrop to her early life:

I just directed my first film, and that made me incredibly happy. It’s about a subject I know a lot about, which is the U.K. child protection and care system. It’s a semiautobiographical story about a little girl who is taken into care. I was placed in care as a baby, and I was in care all my life. I had different foster parents, and I was in children’s homes. I wasn’t given up — I was taken away for protection.

Then, there’s the knowing nod to Pringle woollens (and my own personal salute to the company’s P.R. team), not for its fashion forward looks but for its staple Sweater Set. Cookbook author Daisy Garnett solves a mystery for me once and for all by acknowledging that the shell-and-cardigan pairings are one thing for gorgeous beanpoles like Tilda Swinton, yet quite another for The Rest of Us.

Also inside is “Batty Brits,” a goofy, fur- and furbelow-trimmed tribute on punk-mascara overdrive to supposed “Club Kids” — some of them a little long in the tooth, to my mind, to qualify as kids of any sort. They include “Aristobrats” — the tattooed, privately educated, and precociously pretty progeny of rocker Paul Weller (The Jam) and other bold-faced names. Reclining en masse in a four-poster, of course. On furs. Mick Jagger’s son James appears a few pages on, looking like an Anne Rice character.

And an ode to It girls celebrates a certain slinky yet untouchable sloth: “[I]n a world obsessed with sexual calsthenics, her very stasis is something everyone wants to cling to.” The Will Self piece recalls Julie Christie before paying allegiance to (ick) Kate Moss: “nothing dents her built-in orphan power.” Really? Not even cocaine? Is that, well, “It”?

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 20, 2009 2:46 pm

    Love chicken tikka! Love your delicious writing! And I now feel justified that I tossed out that section after glancing at the boring cover…

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