In the photo, Mayer lies upside-down on a backyard lounge chair, wearing a blue Michael Kors dress. Her blond hair fans out at the foot of the chair, her Yves Saint Laurent stiletto heels point toward the top and she holds a tablet computer featuring a stylized image of her face. In the minds of some, that single image is enough to undo a 3,000-word article -- the first in-depth interview Mayer has granted since taking the reins at Yahoo -- that focuses on her successes and vision in a male-dominated tech world.
Why? Because it's a ultra-contrived fashion shot that makes a formidable female tech executive look, well, a bit ridiculous. This causes wires to cross in people's minds because they forget that fashion-magazine people -- the editors, designers, photographers, stylists and other members of the small armies that work on fashion shoots -- have historically been professionally ridiculous, like Monty Python or Anthony Weiner, and it is their job to make everyone act and look ridiculous too. It just goes with the territory.
(Personally I'm more concerned about the photo because Meyer, awkwardly inverted like that, looks like she's waiting for the NSA to show up to waterboard her. I'm, like, worried for her.)
Vogue editor Anna Wintour is getting her tech on, people!
Still, I think she could have gone further. Just a little further. Here's what I would also like to have seen in the September Vogue:
• Anna Wintour's Fall Couture Collection of TweetsAs my colleague Michael Sebastian reported earlier this summer in a post titled "Anna Wintour Tweeted for the First Time Over DOMA, May Never Tweet Again," Anna hasn't been a big Twitterer. So far, this, on June 26, has been it:
Today's rulings are a big step forward for all Americans striving to achieve equality. I couldn't be happier or more proud. —A.W.— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) June 26, 2013
I admire Ms. Wintour's restraint. But imagine if the September issue of Vogue capitalized on the buzz surrounding her first tweet by adding a fall collection of Anna Wintour tweets -- an exclusive couture collection of tweets. And unlike regular tweets, they'd be printed tweets, and thus limited edition by definition. You would need to buy a copy of the physical, glossy Vogue to enjoy them (you could "retweet" by handing a friend or colleague the actual issue). By bringing a quintessential fashion-world notion -- scarcity -- to social media, Anna Wintour could have transformed the Twittersphere.
• A feature about the latest trends in PHAs
I've written for various Condé Nast publications (though not Vogue) over the years, so I've spent a lot of time in the Condé Deathstar (4 Times Square), and I can tell you that what truly powers that place is the PHA -- the Personal Human Assistant. If you work at Condé and don't have your own PHA, well, it's a kind of pathetic, frankly. The form factor hasn't changed much over the years -- they're sleek and compact, though still not small enough to fit in a handbag -- but the newest models are actually very cutting-edge. The September Vogue could have done a feature about the latest trends in PHAs as a service to its well-heeled readers.
For instance, many PHAs are now equipped with smartphones. Which means anything you need to know right now is just a voice command away. Like,
"PHA, ask Siri what the weather is like outside."
It's amazing, really.
• A ridiculous fashion feature on male tech icons
As Anna Holmes wrote in Time about the Marissa Mayer fashion controversy, "Women who hold any position of authority get it coming and going of course, and this particular debate -- should business leaders or icons of female strength say yes to fashion shoots -- has been taking place for decades."
But hey, at least women get asked to do ridiculous fashion shoots in the first place. Male execs, tech and otherwise, are routinely photographed in entirely boring, unimaginative and unfashionable ways -- often with no makeup or hairstyling whatsoever. This is patently unfair and, obviously, sexist.
Upside-down Marrissa Meyer in Michael Kors and Yves Saint Laurent? Yawn. What the September issue of Vogue could have used is some equal-opportunity ridiculousness.
I'm talking Apple CEO Tim Cook in a Steven Klein spread, wearing a patterned eggplant silk Marc Jacobs pajamas-as-streetwear ensemble, holding a giant orange (just because). Or Google's Larry Page, in a Horst Diekgerdes photo, wearing a Comme des Garçons Homme Plus black zipper-trimmed trench coat -- as pants. Or Tumblr founder David Karp, in a washed-out Terry Richardson shot, buck naked except for a strategically placed Nexus 7 tablet; on the screen of the tablet, a Georgia O'Keeffe painting.
Just thinking out loud here. But you get the idea.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.