I was in a variety store yesterday and I couldn’t help but notice that the staff had placed Vanity Fair in the fashion section of their magazine rack. This is not the first time I’ve encountered this delusion, in fact I hear it all the time. Whenever I tell someone that I read Vanity Fair religiously, they look at me like I’m a crazy person, as if to say “But you’re interested in literature and politics and economics. Why would you read Vanity Fair?” Even when I explain their mistake, they seem skeptical.
I want to clear this up once and for all. Vanity Fair is a New York culture magazine. They feature the highest quality articles on economics, culture, theatre, visual arts, global politics, travel, as well as a monthly biography.
So why do you think it’s a fashion magazine? Is it because the title contains the word “vanity”? Lets clear this up too. Vanity Fair Magazine is named after an earlier New York magazine also called Vanity Fair which was named after a novel published in 1847, written by William Makepeace Thackeray, called Vanity Fair. The 1847 title refers to a passage in the book that talks about a never-ending fair in a town called Vanity: it represents man’s worldly attachment to sinful things. So, like the book, the title of the magazine is satyrical. It refers to New York as a sort of hedonistic wonderland. Really, it’s one of the greatest magazine names ever: it has both pedigree and wit.
Humbly I request that you, the world, stop assuming that Vanity Fair is a fashion magazine. It’s transparently silly.