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Vogue Editor Hamish Bowles Auditioned for Simon Cowell's The X Factor By Singing Britney Spears' "Oops!... I Did It Again"

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If you're looking for solid proof that Anna Wintour has a killer sense of humor, look no further than European Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles' series on "Vogue hazing" (his words, not ours). This month, Bowles' intrepid reporting takes him inside the auditions of Simon Cowell's new television singing competition, X Factor. Yes, Bowles went in undercover—as an aspiring singer... at an open-call audition.

And it wasn't even his idea—turns out Wintour totally put him up to it:

I had to read the e-mail from the editor in chief several times to be quite sure. There, buried like a time bomb in a bouquet, was this chilling sentence: "I have signed you up to compete in The X Factor."
She even gave Bowles a pep talk:
"You can sing," says Anna, who has heard me warble some comedic Noel Coward songs at The Rug Company during Fashion's Night Out. "This will be easy for you." Her enthusiasm buoys me along, until a moment over dinner at the Metropolitan Opera—after Jonas Kaufmann's celestial voice during Act I of Die Walkure has brought tears to my eyes—when she insouciantly announces that she is, in fact, complete tone deaf.
The whole story is so good, we don't want to spoil it for you, but basically it plays out something like this: Bowles goes to open calls in Newark, New Jersey, wearing a "Philip Treacy fedora, Christian Louboutin rock-star golden crystal shoes, and a Mugler bum freezer."

Oh, and his audition song was Britney Spears' "Oops!... I Did It Again."

Are you dying yet?

We won't tell you what happened next, because Bowles' story is just that good that it has to be read in its entirety. But we will tell you that the audience (and Simon) went crazy for his look:

The audience is wildly responsive; they are loving my look. When Simon asks, I prune my age, and there is still a satisfyingly admiring murmur from the crowd. Simon probes. ("I'm very nosy," he says. "I want to know what makes people tick.") Are you married, Leo? Who did you come here with? (My stylist.) Who did your makeup? Why do you want to win The X Factor? ("So that I don't have to return the shoes.")
Sadly, the story isn't yet available online, but if you have a copy of October's Vogue, it starts on page 158.
· Vogue [Official Site]
· All Hamish Bowles coverage [Racked]