I am a fashionista. I know it's so because the other day tumbling through the mail slot came my very own copy of a large, thick, slick new magazine, DC Modern Luxury, with 272 pages of all the things one needs to survive in the federal city if all one needs are oodles of jewelry, exotic fashions, and photos of the terminally aspiring.
This is the second such magazine to be launched in Washington this season, on top of one that has been around about 20 years (not counting Washingtonian, a more traditional "city" magazines). The premise behind these magazines is that there are enough very rich people in the market to buy very expensive stuff to lure the makers of same to throw a large number of advertising dollars at them.
Start-up magazines often give bulk to their inaugural issues by offering free space to desired advertisers. Thus, it is impossible to know how many of its 26 full pages of ads a diamond merchant, Charleston Alexander, paid for and how many were free. If they were all paid, you had better hustle over to their showroom and buy a handful of diamonds, lest the proprietor be dragged off to debtors' prison.
The cover of this opus features a good-looking young woman pouting. She reappears on 22 pages inside, wearing various pieces of jewelry and expressions ranging from sullen to petulant. She is followed by 12 pages of young men with peculiar haircuts under the title "Naked Ambition: If you've got it, baby, flaunt it."
Up front are self-congratulatory messages from the publisher, editor and president of the enterprise, all of them along the lines of hey-kids-let's-put-out-a-magazine. Toward the back is that self-conscious staple of Washington "society" publications, many pages of harshly-lit photos of people snapped at glittering -- and boring -- charity balls and dinners. Many of these folks would look better on radio.
There is not much text in DC Modern Luxury, and what there is is pedestrian. It plugs various events, fashion items, cosmetics and doodads under the heading "Radar Now." A December performance of the Vienna Choir Boys is plugged with a photo of the troupe. Looking at it, one detects five o'clock shadows and wonders if they are not boys but castrated midgets.
The editors let us in on their "hot" restaurant discoveries and "The Arbiters: 12 People Who Drive DC's Style" -- all territory plowed successfully year after year by Washingtonian, which does it without the pretentiousness laid on with a trowel by these folks.
One plows through this tribute to conspicuous consumption, frivolity and superficiality and winces that it surfaces in a city which is otherwise preoccupied with Iraq, radical Islamist terrorists, aid for hurricane victims and a pork-laden federal budget.
Next time a friend from outside the Beltway calls to ask, "How are things in Washington?" at least I can continue to reply with confidence, "Still going to Hell in a hand basket."
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