Le Derrière Cri by Tom Griffiths

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

Discover MFA Programs in Art and Writing

Conceived by Mayonnaise, published by Capricious, 2013

Le Derrière Cri is not a real fashion magazine. It’s presented in the same format, but takes a critical editorial position and poses the question: What constitutes the “real” in a fashion magazine to begin with?

Content ranges from anonymous insider exposés and satirical fiction to republished email chains and meditations on the symbology of blonde hair. In one section, the trope of the photo story is reconfigured as the subject shifts from a naked model to a studio monitor reproducing her image, and then to a spectator lurking in the shadows of a stage. The gaze of the magazine’s reader is perhaps the theme of these pictures. Who knows? Le Derrière Crirevels in such ambiguities.

In Beni Bischof’s subversive photo series, we are presented with glamorous advertisements ripped from the pages of other fashion magazines that he has obscured with chopped sausage. The glossy sheen of the original artifact shines back with the glare of a camera flash, as meat becomes ornament for appropriated commercial photography.

The fashion universe could be described as a system of creative stars and their orbiting sycophants, but Le Derrière Cri doesn’t interpret it in such clear-cut Newtonian terms. There are more complicated and unstable mechanics at play; for example, in one behind-the-scenes story, we learn of a prominent magazine running ninety percent of its content as advertorials. Its editor-in-chief is a puppet controlled by the powerful PRs of fashion houses, who, mindful of the prominence they would like their products to have in the magazine, use rulers to measure the sizes of clothes, shoes, and bags they have placed in the stories.

Another bitter exposé recounts the workings from within a fashion house, through the testimony of an assistant who develops the skill of controlling a tyrannical creative director while disguising herself as a yes-man. Elsewhere we read the story of a workaholic lawyer hiding her double life as a model in Elle. Duplicity is a recurring motif in Le Derrière Cri, perhaps because fashion is a business privileging the surface appearance of things.

The strangest anecdote in the issue comes from a fashionista who finds herself at a friend’s wedding wearing the same dress as the bride. This sounds like happenstance, but, as our trendy narrator explains, this is the second time she has chosen a dress identical to one worn by a woman walking down the aisle. The cosmic forces at work here are so large as to be invisible, dimensions coiling within dimensions, couture superstrings vibrating.

Chic and repetition are the dual themes of Le Derrière Cri’s premier issue. To be chic is to be in sync with the transient, while to repeat, as in the ritual of chanting, is to give substance to the ephemeral. This counterpoint makes a fitting paradox for a fashion magazine that both celebrates and satirizes its subject.

Tom Griffiths is one half of Everything Studio, which is in charge of BOMB’s creative direction and design.