Over the past few weeks it has struck me how many of the conversations we’ve been having here at Vogue have boiled down to the same simple and alluring concept: clarity. Well, I say simple, too often this year clarity has felt elusive, as we’ve grappled with a siege of minute-by-minute information and disinformation while pushing on through a pandemic, a civil rights crisis and a fraught American presidential election. Who do we trust? What opinions matter? What are the facts?
Like appealing consumables low on availability, a little clarity feels profoundly desirable. So perhaps it was inevitable that this yearning for a more fundamental reality and a less embellished take on life made its way on to the pages of our November issue – from the pared-back precision and emphasis on wearability in the Trends section to an ever-more conscious eye on sustainability in our fashion choices.
Then there is this month’s cover star, the irrepressible Serena Williams. At 39, the sports icon has a career that, for longevity and impact, is almost without parallel. Hard-won victories on the tennis court, one match after another over a quarter-century career, have left Serena standing triumphant: she is the most successful female tennis player of the Open Era. She is also a mother and a businesswoman, and – as is evident in her interview with Olivia Singer – a vocal advocate for justice of many years standing. Talk about clarity of vision.
In the accompanying shoot, you will note that Serena is channelling the fashion mood of the moment: clean lines, crisp silhouettes and a classic palette that feels almost seasonless, yet gives a fresh take on minimalism that not only looks wonderful on the body but also feels right for the soul.
It really is all about the fundamentals right now. Photographer David Sims and stylist Joe McKenna showcase that most enduring of fashion hues, and a defining trend of the season: black. The story also features an essay on the shade written by Harriet Quick.
Autumn/winter 2020 offers clothes that make sense for now: wearable, real. Clothes that bring confidence and ease. Of course, confidence in our fashion choices now goes beyond how flattering the cut is. Amber Valletta, Vogue’s contributing sustainability editor, brings her expert eye to bear highlighting the best brands to know and shop now. While we salute Stella McCartney, a woman who was beating the drum for ethical fashion long before the industry took animal welfare and climate change more seriously.
I still vividly remember Stella’s graduate show at Central Saint Martins in 1995. How could one forget? Seeing Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell coming down the catwalk at a student show was quite something, and certainly the whole industry paid immediate attention. But beyond the pizzazz, she revealed a staunch set of ethics that have guided her career and influenced so many around the world ever since. Next year, she celebrates 20 years of her eponymous label, which is profiled in Leader of the Pack to mark the occasion. For too long, Stella was a voice in the wilderness. How gratifying it is to see the industry catch up with her.
So yes, clarity – or the search for it, at least – runs through this issue, from an inside report on Small Axe, director Steve McQueen’s upcoming BBC drama, that unpacks the legacy of the Windrush generation, to the low-down on smart, Scandinavian living with a visit to the home of the husband and wife duo behind Danish label Ganni.
Lastly, you will find a personal viewpoint from Jessica Diner, our beauty and lifestyle director, about her experience of converting to Modern Orthodox Judaism. As Jessica reflects, it was a journey of light and shade that has brought her many new perspectives, and one I hope you enjoy reading about as much as I did.
The November issue of British Vogue is on newsstands on 9 October.
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