Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ON HER MIND MONDAY: Fantastic Man & The Gentlewoman

[images from RBPMfanzine

I just read the other day that Fantastic Man--the Dutch "fashion magazine for men who hate fashion magazines"--will be launching a sister title to their brand, The Gentlewoman. Planned for a launch this spring, the magazine promises to be "Fantastic Man's fierce companion,an announcement that caused a gaggle of delight in the fashion blogosphere.

Since its launch in 2006, Fantastic Man has been as widely read by men and women alike for its original spin on fashion journalism. More anti-fashion magazine than "anti-fashion," as it so proclaimed, the tome still plucked its duds from the same pool of high fashion designers, but in its graphic design and editorial treatments, Fantastic Man was the bourgeois' rebellion against conventions of the standard men's fashion magazine. 

Their covers mimic the style of old-fashioned, high-brow titles such as Harper's while featuring current-day style icons such as Stefano Pilati, Tom Ford, and Ewan McGregor. Pages are printed in black and white on newsprint, and self-consciously set in Times New Roman. Use of the conventionally ugly duckling typeface is updated with a tasteful cascading of image and text that brings a tamed edginess (for lack of a better word) mirroring today's stylish and, shall we say, fantastic man: simple, sophisticate, and with a dash of irreverence and humor. Past editorial features have ranged from spreads on pajama separates as daywear to the gender-bending style of "lesbian looks," men's fashions circuitously inspired by menswear-inspired womenswear. 

Fantastic Man is a gorgeous and entertaining read on its own merits, but you have to consider that the bar for men's fashion magazines has been lying pretty low in recent years. Esquire, Details and GQ more or less speak to a generation of glorified, aged frat boys and conspciously tacky metrosexuals, while titles like Men's Vogue have left little wiggle room around the WASPy lifestyle it extolls, consequently stuttering to reach an audience that cares.

So, with The Gentlewoman, I wonder if its publishers will be able to scrap enough original content to make the publication a uniquely different enterprise within the oversaturated market of womens fashion magazines (and blogs, no less). With its introduction several years after the successful launch of Fantastic Man, it will have an established brand and a dedicated readership to fall onto. But opting for Futura, a rounded sans-serif type (as seen in a preview spread from Fantastic Man's current issue) already suggests that The Gentlewoman's style and content may not be as clever or witty a counterpart. I'm a bit skeptical, but I'll just have to wait and see when the magazine hits newsstands this spring. 

In the meantime, I am mildly amused at their cheeky take on the sweater--categorized not by the cut of the yarns but the shape of the brassieres with which they are paired--and much less so with a spread on clutch purses, which seems pretty standard and typical.

"round" and "ridiculous"

"up" and "profile"

"ritzy," "fierce," and "pussy"

[scans graciously borrowed from coute que coute]

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