Co.Design

Vogue Makes A Complete Joke Out Of Google, And Google Doesn’t Even Notice

Google Glass made it into Vogue’s esteemed September issue. But its treatment says a lot about how the fashion industry views the geek elite.

Google Glass just scored a 12-page spread in Vogue’s September issue, or what’s easily the most influential issue of the most influential publication in all of fashion. You could argue that this is Google’s moment, that this single spread (coupled with the DVF show last year) portends a future in which we all wear Glass.

And I’ll gladly listen. Just give me a second while I grab my live goat shawl because it’s a bit cold in here. You wouldn’t happen to have any alfalfa in your pocket?

Just because Google is courting the fashion industry doesn’t mean that Glass--in its current hideous incarnation--is the next big fashion accessory. Sergey Brin is to Anna Wintour what Jay Gatsby is to Daisy Buchanan: a nouveau riche geek making attempts at chic. A spectacle.

If you want to know how Vogue really sees Glass, take a closer look at that the mise en scène called "The Final Frontier." Glass doesn’t live in a world of rolling meadows, crashing waves, Elizabethan furniture, or any other ethereally romantic creation of Grace Coddington. Glass was placed into a dystopian future, some planet from the original Star Trek that’s devoid of life save for a solitary, soul-sucking alien and a model in a Bottega Veneta wool-cashmere coat ($2,750). (Call that coat “saffron,” but any way you gussy up the hue, that’s Captain Kirk’s color through and through.) Even in Vogue’s brashest issue of the year, Glass can only exist as geek-wear.

Yet I understand the magazine’s creative approach. Their photo spread works wonderfully as an artistic statement all its own. The images are hyperbole through environment--Glass just makes sense in a dead sci-fi future in the same way that wool feels inevitable in Scotland. Because when you actually see Glass worn in person, noticing its absolute worst trait--how it has a tendency to obscure the wearer’s eyeline in profile--it’s hard to feel anything but coldness toward the technology.

Is she dead because she removed Glass?

Vogue likes Glass for the wrong reasons: Because it’s expensive and it looks silly, because it makes a brash, unmistakable fulcrum in a photo essay. So in featuring Glass, Vogue has actually given Google the kiss of death, certifying that Glass (v1) will always be a loved or hated fashion statement for an elite few, an elite few who probably like Star Trek.

But with any luck, the next time Mountain View celebrates an appearance in Vogue, no one will notice Isabelle Olsson’s original design. Glass will be invisible, existing as the technology woven deep within the fabric of fashion. And Glass’s greatest fashion statement can be every fashion statement. Glass can be ubiquity.

See the spread here.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Vogue, September 2013

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33 Comments

  • toma5155

    I followed the NYFW this week on Instagram, and the Glass started to make an appearance at the front rows between working editors. if something can give Glass its real-life foot-inthe-door-of-the-fashion-industry its @ninagarcia the editor of Marie Claire magazine who posts videos/photos from her Glass, and @miraduma who photographs her wearing them..
    Fashion is a super forward-thinking field. Geeks and Fashionistas are the first two trend-setters any company needs, and it looks like Google Glass generates interest on both sides here...

  • toma5155

    I followed the NYFW this week on Instagram, and the Glass started to make an appearance at the front rows between working editors. if something can give Glass its real-life foot-inthe-door-of-the-fashion-industry its @ninagarcia the editor of Marie Claire magazine who posts videos/photos from her Glass, and @miraduma who photographs her wearing them..

    Fashion is a super forward-thinking field. Geeks and Fashionistas are the first two trend-setters any company needs, and it looks like Google Glass generates interest on both sides here...

  • Samuel L. Matson

    Don't forget that Vogue probably cashed a very large check from Google in return for this spread.  Vogue did Google's bidding and made Glass a September spectacle.

  • GonzoI

    The "we're too popular to be seen with geeks" trope is pretty well dead. If that really is what Vogue is going for, have fun with that. Star Trek may have been niche, but it was a very powerful, influential niche.

    That isn't to say anything positive at all about Google Glass, but if they are harkening to Star Trek as a way of mocking it, they missed the mark.

  • GRAYBN

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

    I disagree. Nina Garcia,The "Project Runway" judge and Marie Claire creative director, will wear Google Glass at New York Fashion Week this season. She will post the videos to her instagram and other social media platforms so those of us who can't be there in person can still view the shows. 

  • Jeffery P. Ess

    Vogue nailed the futuristic spin on the SNL skit. Priceless. Who would ever want to hangout with these sterile cyborgs? Not me.

  • Kingi Gilbert

    I agreed with you on Apple's ad, but in this photoshoot I totally disagree with your point of view. For Vogue to dedicate that many pages is the fashion industry's way of saying, "this thing is here, now what", this is acknowledgement and given the depth of art direction I would say acceptance has been achieved.  

  • Mark Wilson

    I think that's a fair and plausible counterpoint. Though I also do think that the fact that Vogue could only see it as sci-fi for their spread could tease problems of Glass's perception to come. If the mainstream sees it as sci-fi rather than cool, I don't think they'll wear it every day.

  • Sonya Wiley

    Obviously,
    Vogue thinks you’re stupid by letting domestic terrorists rule the day on this cover or have say so, the proliferation of there actions are beginning to define Google’s outward motivation to promote a vision that is fair for everyone. Right now that’s bullshit! And actions need to taken to minimize the damage this may cause in the future, maybe it will maybe it won’t. Personally we’re sick of it.   
     
    Google glass rocks especially on Sergey:
     
     
     
                                     
              
                    
                
      

  • fumusfumus

    A luddite head in the sand article. The same non-belief was said about Sony's Walkman, and then suddenly everyone was wearing headphones. Take care when damning innovation.

  • jghoward

    That's certainly reading a lot into the designers motives and intentions. This article seems to reflect the author's personal bias more than anything else. 

  • Irene Velveteen

    I felt that a lot too. Reading too much into it perhaps? It feels a little presumptuous and biased, yes.

  • Abhimanyu Ghoshal

    Nope.

    Vogue isn't in the business of poking fun at new trends; Google Glass v1 may or may not reach the public in its current form; this photo spread is gorgeous; no jokes here.

    Sorry Mark, can't agree with you on  this.