Breaking: Models Reading Books
Earlier this week, our pals at Vogue picked up on the Gigi and Bella Hadid Book Club, which is to say that between Eating, Praying, and Loving, the women who have spun their shared DNA into a multimillion-dollar modeling empire (that glorious place in which your sneakers alone determine whether it’s quiet for you or you’re gonna like get it), have been photographed on their own personal Odysseys, and The Things They Are Carrying are books, specifically Stephen King’s The Outsiders and Albert Camus’ The Stranger.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way: This seems to have offended everyone’s delicate and profoundly highbrow sensibilities (just look at the replies to the New York Post’s pickup of Vogue’s story). Because to use a book like an It-bag, an emblem of one’s taste and power in the world, seems crass. Books are meant to be read, not photographed!
But like the Hadids themselves, books are now designed for Instagram. During the summer of 2017, for example, you couldn’t flick your thumb more than three times on the platform without seeing Elif Batuman’s The Idiot artfully arranged with an alt-milk cappuccino and a cool bag or whatever. Did its millennial pink, Instagram-me-please cover make it any less brilliant? Absolutely not. And the same goes for the rich, maniac florals of Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling and Tommy Orange’s bold but delicate There There and Jenny Zhang’s super-juicy Sour Heart.
Is the decision to read a book because it looks cool with your outfit any less random than deciding to read it because a class syllabus, or even a book review, told you to? Reader, it’s not.
You must also remember (and you must, if you are such a learned scholar of literature that the Hadids' carrying of books upsets you) that books and women have a long and dangerous history. Writing about this very topic for The New York Times back in 2014, Anna North spoke to a professor of French language who told her, “In Madame Bovary, I think Flaubert is channeling a century of worries about young women as particularly susceptible to the fantasies they find in novels and the seductions of reading,” adding that between the late 18th to the mid-19th centuries, women “were considered to be in danger of not being able to differentiate between fiction and life.”
Not being able to differentiate between fiction and life...sounds like all our overblown paranoia about Life Lived on Instagram to me! If our Great Supermodels want some literature to add color to their documentation of what is otherwise an exhausting and boring amount of traveling and pouting for money, who are we to deny them this pleasure?
And if you come through with Mrs. Dalloway, homegirl’s gonna like get it!!!
The Vessel: A Different Kettle of Fish!
Here is the takedown of “The Vessel,” the big weird art staircase at Hudson Yards, that you have been waiting for: It is a monument to meaningless labor, and “a Vessel for capital, for a real estate grift that can charge more for an already multimillion-dollar apartment because it merely faces it.”
“The Black Yeehaw Agenda Is Chic and Thriving”
Talking to Pitchfork, writer Antwaun Sargent discussed how the history of the American cowboy is being rewritten by black people in Western apparel, from Solange’s recent album to the latest Pyer Moss campaign, which might be one of the most interesting ways fashion is being used in this era. “The cowboy has meant so much to American identity,” said Sargent. “Before, there was this idea that black people were never cowboys and black people didn't have access to that quintessential part of an American identity. These images—and real history—say otherwise.”