Monday, July 12, 2010

Magazine Review: The Gentlewoman

Magazine: The Gentlewoman
Issue: # 1 Spring/Summer 2010
Purchased: Mall of America Barnes & Nobel, for around $11

First of all, it was not easy to track down a copy of this magazine. I read about the magazine's announcement MONTHS ago, and was interested to see what the creators of Fantastic Man would do for a female audience. I hunted for it in NYC, but couldn't find it, I think because by that time it was 2 months old, so it wasn't on the front of newsstands. Also it wasn't available online anywhere. I was complaining to Jack that I couldn't find it, and he was like 'oh I saw like 10 copies of it at the downtown Barnes & Nobel." I happened to be at the Mall of America later and found a copy at their B & N.

Editor Penny Martin's opening letter slightly blew my mind. She acknowledges that it's fun to reflect on iconic women from the past, but that "a far more interesting question is undoubtedly: who are the women of the future?" This is so true. It's easier to romanticize role models from the past than to recognize the trail blazer's of today. Unlike most mainstream fashion/lifestyle magazines for women The Gentlewoman is light on the beauty, boyfriends and weight loss. As Martin says:
"I wanted to make sure that for every one part fashion and celebrity, there would be four parts other things, because this is an exercise in restoring the balance that I remember in publishing. Even in the 18th and 19th centuries, women were writing about travel and education and philosophy, and that's somehow disappeared. We have the opportunity to do these things, and yet if 50 years from now you were to look at the magazines we're consuming, you'd think we were just interested in handbags."

In Part 1 of The Gentlewoman there are numerous short interviews with women who have interesting jobs, from an illustrator to an ice cream maker. Instead of questioning the woman about their professions, they described how they deal with an aspect of modern life, from transportation to correspondence. The only downer was Daisy Lowe, a model who was asked about modern housekeeping and gave one word responses. Part 2 is the Features section; which includes a fashion editorial and more in depth interview's with the likes of fashion designer Phoebe Philo and artist Jenny Holzer. The issue is wrapped up in Part 3 with fashion photo essays, including a shoot of clothes without models.

I feel it goes with out saying that under the creative direction of Jop Van Bennekom the design is refreshingly subtle, especially in the context of women's interest magazines. Overall, a
stunning debut and I can't wait for issue 2!