September 2002

Sonia Pereira

magazine whore

Victory is Sweet

I've always been the type to squeal in honest delight at a cute slipcover or freshly painted room with clever white scallops bordering the trim. Which is great for me since everyone else in the world seems to have fallen for the wiles of indoor decor as well.

Consider the plethora of home and garden type magazines available today: there's Elle Decor, House and Garden, Nest, Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart Living, plus a ton of others. Although most of these magazines are terrific for supplying a hefty dose of eye candy that doesn't need involve 14-year-old models in Versace mini-skirts, I find that by far the greatest decoration or "shelter" magazine has to be Victoria.

I've been a devoted fan of Victoria ever since I spotted it my senior year in college. Though I didn't have my own place yet and still lived with my parents in a stuffy Connecticut suburb, I had the ripe desire to furnish a chateau on the south of France like you wouldn't believe. Blame it on a passion for turn of the century novels where gilded ladies's parlors run amok, but there's nothing I want more than to completely redo a crumbling old mansion or cute antique flat. And Victoria satiates my hungers every time. Or at least staves them off for a couple days.

Victoria is a magazine for the self-acclaimed Francophile or Anglophile. Or, if you're neither, for the wannabe "artiste" of decorative design with a European twist. Many of the magazine's issues focus on French and English Provincial decor while also throwing in some more contemporary spreads for the Manhattanites. In truth, this is a publication for the person who adores travel even if he/she isn't quite able to afford it.

Each month Victoria makes my tummy soft with delicious pieces on fresh blueberries, peaches, and boysenberry tarts. The photographs which accompany each article are not as minimalistic or artsy as those in Martha Stewart Living but, rather they are more cozy and perfect for the reader of such books as "Chocolat" by Joanne Harris. If cups of excellent tea and an afternoon out in the garden watching the butterflies and reading Penelope Fitzgerald is what floats your boat, then get a subscription immediately. Believe me, I've been reading Victoria for over a couple years now and while its layout has improved some it hardly ever changes. This is a good thing. We can leave rolling glass cabinets and dishwasher kitchen tables to the folks at The New York Times's Home Design Magazine.

In addition to providing the market with gorgeous photos of Parisian antique shops, Victoria also expands its enjoyability by including articles about female authors, artists, and entrepreneurs. The latter is my favorite. In the recent August issue, Victoria featured 20 women who successfully created their own unique businesses by profiting on what they're good at (hat making, baking, making jam, importing French goods, etc). Reading about all these women who started simply and made themselves a valuable niche in the community is inspiring to say the least. If you can't remember the last time you thought you were creative or smart enough to start an artistic business, pick Victoria" up. It'll shake the "You're Not Doing It Right! Martha Blues" right out of you.

Other pluses in Victoria are as follows: romantically literary (ie: pretty) fashion shoots with relatively normal looking models in wearable clothes; recipes; a column on unusual business cards from America, England, and France; a great listing of interesting catalogs and store websites; art sent in from inspired readers; lots of funny articles on ex-pats who learn to deal with the French 'tude; did I mention all the pretty pictures?

Love this magazine.

With the turnaround these days, who knows how long good stuff that doesn't have the word "Maxim" in its title is going to be around.