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Student-run fashion magazine explores storytelling, social discourse

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Coulture Magazine Editor-in-Chief Joey Marmaud poses for a portrait by his desk on Aug. 25, 2023.

Coulture Magazine, a student-led fashion and lifestyle magazine at UNC, has published bright and chic editions every year since 2015.

Coulture has done photoshoots of everything in popular culture, from the man bun in 2015 to the pink lights and dazzling diamonds of the Spring 2022 edition. 

But Coulture’s most recent edition, "Issue 15: Issue Provocateur," explored something different: irony as a mode of fashion storytelling, Joey Marmaud, this year’s editor-in-chief, said.

Coulture Magazine Editor-in-Chief Joey Marmaud works at his desk on Aug. 25, 2023.

 

"Issue Provocateur" was inspired by the work of former Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani — who used fashion and editorials to make political statements, often in visually compelling and ironic ways.

“You know, fashion, a lot of people look at it as a respite from provocation and a respite from stresses," he said. "We love beautiful photos, we love beautiful images,  But we still, we don’t want fashion to be perceived as something so passive and static, which I think it’s often derided as passive and frivolous and unnecessary.”

This provocation is evident in one such shoot, entitled “be so for real.” which features models glamorously styled and carefully positioned as they take photos of one another for their BeReal: a popular social media app where users are meant to take real-time photos of themselves and their surroundings when the alert goes off. 

One model is even holding the December 2009 Vogue Italia edition: a subtle reference to an editorial that uses irony in a similar way, Marmaud said.

 

The 2009 Vogue Italia issue was inspired by the then-popular social media site, MySpace. The edition features models posing playfully as though for their personal blogs, capturing candid moments of them doing everything from bowling to smoking. In one, Australian model Abbey Lee sits — her hair carefully tossed and mouth agape — on a toilet.

This ironic use of social media is something "Issue Provocateur" encapsulates through the BeReal shoot, he said. Eventually, he added, BeReal became curated in the exact way that it claimed not to be.

Marmaud said that fashion’s imagery is so effective because the irony is so easily understood by the reader.

“There’s sort of a universal language in fashion, whether you’re seeing it front row in New York, or in your house in a magazine, on a farm in Iowa,” he said. “It’s sort of this universal language that can appeal to all of us. It’s sort of a teleporter. If you’re not part of that world, which is the majority of us, you can still look at these images and read about them.”

Monique Gandy, Coulture's style editor for the 2022-23 academic year, said that issue 15 was a stylistic change from previous editions. From changing the magazine’s logo to featuring clothing from local Chapel Hill boutiques such as Rumors and Uniquities, Gandy said issue 15 was designed to be out of the box. 

Over the past few years, Marmaud said Coulture has become increasingly elevated stylistically, but he hopes this year the process of creating the magazine will be more organized. 

In preparation for the upcoming school year, Coulture has opened applications for new members until September 8.

Marmaud hopes to offer consultant positions to those more interested in the business side of the fashion industry who will help organize scheduling and facilitate communication, as well as more production positions. 

“You have the clothes, you have the photographer and direction,” he said. “But when you’re trying to build this fantasy, build this world, you need these sets and this production value that we’ve been lacking in the past.”

Cameron Shaw, the health editor of Coulture for the 2022-23 academic year, said she joined to gain experience in fashion writing. 

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Fashion is beautiful, Shaw said, and that being able to read about fashion is enough to experience the joy of it. 

“It’s easy to look at clothes and imagine what your life will be like in those clothes,” she said. “When you buy new clothes, you’re not just buying a shirt, you’re buying the idea of how your day’s gonna go when you wear that shirt.” 

Gandy said fashion is important for activism, social discourse and showing what is happening in the world in a given moment.

"It’s like a newspaper, it’s like a piece of journalism, a timestamp,” she said.

For more information about Coulture and their past work, visit their website.

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com