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Lula #3
by Editor-in-Chief: Leith Clark
Lula Publishing, LTD (2006)
Lula #3
Magazine stands are stuffed with Bust, Venus, Nylon and any number of mixed-interest hipster rags that include fashion spreads. This explosion, I think, can be fairly attributed to the rise in crafting and the proliferation of independent small labels and boutiques, both on the street and online. Which all sounds great, right? Except it's become dreadfully boring. Nature motifs, chunky knits, restructured t-shirts, blowsy boho dresses, skull embroidery, it's been played out. We're supersaturated, even at the malls, and the strange thing is, the designers and early adopters seem to be floundering. Maybe it's the rush of mainstream attention and the rip-off legacy of chains like Urban Outfitters that have planted fear and doubt where creativity was. Whatever it may be, fresh ideas just aren't cropping up like they used to.

Still, I decided to check out Lula, a British fashion magazine that is reputed to be leagues cooler than any of its ilk. It cost a pretty penny, but I didn't think twice after seeing the gorgeous, soft-focus photography. With Lula, fashion takes the back burner to style and mood. The subtitle Girl of My Dreams captures the third issue: an air of hazy loveliness and a dreamlike disconnect of topics and imagery (the photo-essay Horses in My Dreams has little to do with its namesake). Nicky Peacock's photo and mixed media collage Haunt Me is a fantastic and pensive evocation of girlhood (the tiny flowers frozen in ice is one of the most lovely photographs I've ever seen). The interviews are engaging and rather open. Featured among these are actresses, musicians, designers, artists, filmmakers, and perhaps most delightful of all: the women who played Molly and Pepper in the film Little Orphan Annie, both of whom negate nasty child star stereotypes. None are huge names, aside from Marianne Faithfull, and all are more interesting because of it. Among the several fashion spreads (one features indie designers in what I assume are their own creations), is a tribute to the saddle shoe and a fascinating photo spread of very young girls at dance school.

With all the thoughtful content, it's easy to forget Lula is a fashion magazine, especially as there's no fawning over designers and only nine of its two-hundred forty-eight pages are ads. Much of the featured clothing takes cues from eras past, which worked well for the most part though I was less than thrilled with the boho spread, shot in the woods with a frankly offensive theme: romanticized, 1950s era Native American imagery. In spite of this annoyance, I am pleased with Lula's message that it's not so much what you're wearing as how you're wearing it. While refreshingly eclectic, the magazine's staff do have their fixations on texture and sheen: diaphanous dresses, velvet and other lush fabrics can be found throughout. Only one spread noticeably deviates from this, instead heralding the return of grunge dressing (think:flannels shirts, doc martens, nylon slips layered under baggy sweaters).

However, I will warn you: Lula suffers from the same tired issues of representation as other fashion magazines. The magazine is shockingly white. There are perhaps four women or girls of color in the entire magazine, and all females range from extremely skinny to thin. In fact, the few men who turn up (like those in the band Tilly & The Wall) are quite thin themselves. Lula, while indeed leagues ahead of its competitors, is still lagging far behind. Still, I recommend checking the magazine out, though it is probably a bitch to find outside of a city. It wouldn't hurt to ask your neighborhood newsstand or bookseller to pick it up. And it's certainly worth hunting down here in the states, not only for personal pleasure, but to send a message that Americans also crave artful, intelligent fashion magazines that aren't stuffed with advertising. A bit of pressure to include a diversity of women, along with the eclectic fashions, would go farther than spurning a magazine that is close to awesome.
Posted by: R. Baker

Print Reviews (January 19th, 2007)


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