The Long Road Back to September Issue Glory

September issues are absolutely the thing for fashion magazines—a few short years ago, they were all competing to see whose issue could outweigh a watermelon. The last couple of years? Not so great. This year? Well...better, at least.

A year ago at this time, the recession was still in full swing, and there's not a more frivolous-seeming investment than a dozen glossy pages in Vogue's September issue. For that reason, Vogue's ad pages were down more than a third last September, and other fashion mags saw declines in the 20% range. This year? Vogue is up 23%, to 529 ad pages. Other fashion magazines are also seeing increases—Glamour is up 57%(!), Harper's Bazaar is up 12%, and InStyle is up 16%.

Of course, that's not a full-fledged comeback. That's an increase over last year's numbers, which were horrible. Vogue, for example, is still well below its rah-rah 2007 peak of 727 ad pages. A better litmus test of magazines' health may come next September, when they'll have less apocalyptic numbers to compare themselves to.

Then again, a forecast last month predicted that magazines' print ad revenue won't start rising past pre-recession levels until 2013. Assuming everyone can hang on that long.

September party!