You know what we miss? The days when Kim France could be reliably counted on for a self-indulgent editor’s letter. Let’s be clear: we think her reigned-in notes are a huge improvement. And we hope that means she’s happier with her life now that she doesn’t feel the need to spew personal details in every issue of Lucky. But, honestly? She was incredibly entertaining—albeit incredibly infuriating—back then.
Fortunately, Jean Godfrey-June has stepped into the role of resident staffer who shares life details for no apparent reason, and there's the added bonus for us that Godfrey-June rarely makes any sense! At least France’s tangents were marginally related to the topic at hand. Godfrey-June’s pieces, on the other hand, are often so random that we wonder whether anyone even edits her copy. What, does she phone it in directly to the printer from the back of a speeding cab?
There’s an autobiographical tidbit in the October “Editor’s Letter,” in which France asks other staffers to share personal recollections about fragrance. The editor-in-chief doesn’t even share her own story, which is amazing, because the old Kim France never bothered to ask about other people. But here’s Godfrey-June’s answer:
In true Northern California late-‘70s style, my mother had a bottle of Zen by Shiseido, which I think all her cool, bohemian friends also wore—they had lives, and the Zen spoke to me of having a life. It still smells really sexy to me.
Ah, yes, having a life. Way to aim high, young Jean! The concept—associating a scent with certain people—is sound, so it wasn’t until we got to “The Beauty Closet” that we began to suspect she had inhaled a bit too much of the Shiseido potion in her youth.
For starters, she writes:
What would happen if you cracked open a Magic 8-ball? is my daughter’s favorite question. Some old stale water, perhaps a bit of food coloring, and a many-sided piece of plastic emblazoned with “yes,” “most likely,” and “reply hazy, try again” is what you’d get, is my typical answer.
Which is level-headed and reasonable and everything…it just has absolutely nothing to do with anything else in the column. Is it really such a stretch to fill the page? She continues with a story about taking her kids to a press conference, which at least has the potential to be charming. The key word here is potential.
Through some rather glamorous extenuating circumstances, [her “working-mom thing”] most recently broke down in Paris…
Glamorous circumstances! What could those be? Maybe she’s saving the story for a column in 2008, because she never explains why she was forced to drag her children to a cosmetics-industry press conference.
At this point, we hoped (against hope, it turned out) the kids’ involvement would at least yield some adorable anecdote. The quote below, however, is as close as the story veers to cute.
…my exceptionally short, unaccredited-journalist sidekicks were riveted. Even the antiaging portion, which involved charts about cellular regeneration, was popular: “I loved that whole human-body part!” reminisced my five-year-old later, his eyes shining.
Yeah, yeah, the kid’s gonna grow up to be a doctor. So what about the Magic 8-ball?
When [the Lancome Destiny Cube] appeared, however, the peanut gallery (myself included) went crazy. While it’s not an 8-ball—
“Not an 8-ball.” Uh, doesn’t that render the intro totally irrelevant? Unless...hmm...the cube and the 8-ball are both made of black plastic. And they both have stuff inside. So they’re, like, practically the same thing!
it wears its mystery on the outside, with chic words like “coquette” and “jalouse” stamped on its facets, interspersed with moons and stars and secret symbols—when you crack it open, you get both a darkish-bright and a sparkly-translucent lip gloss, the palest pink and the faintest green eyeshadows, both so wearable as to entice a non-eyeshadow holdout.
If we managed to follow that extraordinarily long sentence correctly (and we think we did), we learned these three things:
1. It is possible for a substance to be both “darkish” and “bright” at the same time.
2. There are, apparently, people in the world who identify as “non-eyeshadow holdouts,” or shadow wearers have a name for those who abstain. Either way, it’s weird.
And, perhaps most importantly,
3. Even if you connect two items that have only the vaguest resemblance, tell a story that fails to be interesting, and nullify your own premise, all in the name of a pricey product, you can still have a successful career in beauty writing. Even a truly magic 8-ball couldn’t have predicted that.