Worthy Issues

By Sophia Mossberg • Sep 3rd, 2009 • Category: Juicy Story, Trends   

They say that true beauty increases with age, as years of wisdom compiles and reflects onto its endowed subject. But in the world of fashion magazines, where many leading publications are as old as the hills, age often translates to recycled stories, editorial spreads, and most importantly, recycled oomph. In an industry where trends race past runways and defy seasons altogether, it is critical that the mags depicting them are as fresh as their subjects, whether models, photographers, or couture.

Let’s face it: our culture is celebrity-obsessed—no news there—and while some non-fashion figures are vibrant between the sheets (pages, pages), trite cover stories (I’m looking at you, July Bazaar!) with safe, if beautifully lit and staged editorials, dominate. Edging away from the mainstream, a necessity for genius in fashion design, gets one pretty darn far in magazine quality as well. Rawness and boldness are key to magazine darlings. You won’t find these titles at a supermarket near you, but flagging down these sub-masses-radar publications is worth it.

Take Purple Fashion Magazine : a fifteen-year-old gem chock full of provocative and innovative spreads, and I’m not just talking about photos. Sure, they’re so expertly snapped they’re art, with brilliant photographers like Terry Richardson (shooting subjects as varied as Diane von Furstenberg for the latest cover and Indie artist darling Aurel Schmidt). Karl Lagerfeld gets behind the camera to shoot Kelly Osbourne, and artist Dash Snow has made the credits time and again. Think interviews with the likes of Alexander McQueen, spreads of Martin Margiela, and virtual essays. Purple is feisty, committed to fashion, and to the real people behind fashion as art, as opposed to primarily a commercial market—those figures whose vision and artistic prowess continue to create design and photography that captures a lifestyle, not necessarily a product. Bold and definitive, its pages are worth a look-see, as are those profiled within.

Katie Grand’s semi-new magazine LOVE has certainly been the talk of the town, and for good reason. The discussed-to-death nude Beth Ditto cover and spread has been called provocative, groundbreaking, and even liberating, but the content is less about flash and more about novelty. LOVE is a venture into pop culture in the best sense of the term, reflecting style perhaps above fashion and incorporating interviews and spreads that suggest authenticity (not to mention mastermind photography). The current issue is a culmination of the hunt for young “new blood” in all genres; think interviews with Alexander Wang and newcomer recording artist Coco, daughter of Sting. What stands out most is a deliberate quirkiness; take a full-page spread, in which a blurb called “why we love walnuts” sits artfully atop a black and white photo of a hammer and a cracked nut. Unique? Definitely.

Other standouts include the critically acclaimed design heavy I-D magazine and “fashion with a capital F” V magazine , both of which are photographically stunning and continually fresh. V is the ready-to-wear sibling of couture mag Visionaire, and integrates visual arts and film with its fashion focus (and as in Purple, Karl Lagerfeld’s photography has also graced its pages). The elder I-D is known for its innovation in a market that was, and is, dominated by staged editorials; in the early eighties the magazine led the way in documentary-style fashion photography. Check out the iconic wink gracing each and every cover, and try not to drool over the striking spreads inside.

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