I’m a sucker for a glossy fashion magazine, however, what usually accompanies the fashion features is a rather repetitive recipe of celebrity gossip, news of the latest diet or beauty fad and something on how to wear your winter coat etc. It’s so refreshing therefore to find a new genre of women's magazines that have moved away from this predictable mix and begun to disband these publishing stereotypes by broadening horizons and filling their pages with inspirational women from all walks of life. The pioneer of this ‘real women’ approach to publishing is The Gentlewoman. Launched in Spring 2010, the title was founded by the Dutch creators and publishers of the award-winning, cult men's magazine Fantastic Man, although its editor, Penny Martin is very much the figurehead of the magazine. The Gentlewoman
is a biannual fashion magazine but has focused on the portrayal of women with a healthy balance of substance and style. They have had Adele, and Beyonce on the cover but also a hip and spritely 86 year-old Angela Lansbury, who presence overturned many a taboo in fashion magazines and is one of my favourite covers of the decade.
We've got an anti-fantasy policy,' Martin says in an interview earlier this year with the Telegraph
, 'and that is very consistent with the kind of Dutch graphic language we come from. That it's revolutionary to show how people actually are is the sad revelation of our culture. Fashion-media images of women have become so retouched out of all… not recognition, but tangibility.' Libertine Magazine’
s tagline is ‘for interested women’ which could be a call to action for those of us who are looking for a little more depth to our magazine reading. Founder Debbi Evans describes Libertine’s mission ‘to redefine women’s publishing’ and this seems to be within the context of offering an outlet, about interesting women, that hasn’t been there before. Each of the issues are based on a theme: issue one was Space, issue 2 History and issue 3 Cities & Power, within them there’s a combination of comment, interview and fiction amongst other elements. Traditional fashion and beauty editorial are no-go but as Evans in an interview with The Women’s Room
said, “I do really like clothes and we do showcase a lot of luxury product – everyone likes looking at attractive, well-designed things – but it would be nice to only include long-term and timeless investment pieces rather than encouraging consumption based on fleeting trends.”
Newly launched Riposte Magazine
was founded by East London KK Outlet curator turned Editor Danielle Pender. It gives a knowing nod to the intellect of the reader, its ‘a smart magazine for women’ and has an clear agenda to profile them. There’s a format for each issue: five ideas, four meetings, three features, two essays and one icon and in its first issue there are features on NYC photographer Shaniqwa Jarvis, Portland street-food entrepreneur Nong Poonsikwattana, The New Yorker’s art editor Françoise Mouly and the cover story is designer Nelly Ben Hayoun. .
Danielle describes the approach to the magazine in an interview with It’s Nice That,
we’ve tried to bring something positive; to focus on bold, fascinating women who are doing incredible things. To celebrate them for what they’re doing and saying, rather than what they look like.”
What’s amazing about all these magazines is that you can see a sea-change. There’s a realisation that you’re not the only one perturbed about the obsession with only surface, that a success of women shouldn't be determined by the way she looks. And even better a reassurance that there are many, many women out there to be inspired and surprised by and a bit more real like you.