the family way
A great Sunday morning = A thoughtfully-published magazine fresh off the presses, milk, toast with my aunt's smashing home-made kaya (a sweet, fragrant, spread made from coconut, pandan, and egg, has a sort of nutty/caramelised flavour).
The rest of this post is a long ramble about magazine siblings Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman. Feel free to skip...
I've been meaning to purchase Fantastic Man for ages, but never got around to doing it. Just as well that their latest cover featuring the dapper David Beckham looks incredible. He may have a small voice, cheated on his wife, and is merely a good but not exceptional footballer, but he is the best dressy male celebrity there is. All other fancily-dressed male celebs just look styled and, I don't know, conspicuously dressy, but David Beckham just seems natural with all his elaborately coiffed and gelled hairdos. The interview actually surprised me a little, he came across as a more level, genuine person thank I would have thought.
Fantastic Man on the whole is somewhat better organised than its sister, The Gentlewoman, and also less profile-heavy. I guess it makes for lighter reading and offers a bit of relief. It follows the standard magazine format of having shorter, snippier "what's new" things at the front and profiles and editorials at the back. It also has some of the hearty, "what's up with that" tone all men's magazines seem to adopt.
Like The Gentlewoman, they have a sure hand with picking interview subjects for their profile stories - I read every one of them with interest. I actually preferred Fantastic Man's fashion editorials, because they have a sense of play. The Gentlewoman did a great job with the fashion-y aspect of the magazine in the second issue, but their third issue was so heavy-going when it came to fashion - it lacked levity and felt like a drudge. I don't think fashion is shallow, but I don't think fashion is so serious either.
Fantastic Man's snippets and articles are also better presented in terms of context. You understand the relevance of the things they talk about to the greater world. The Gentlewoman starts with that Modernisms section where the subjects feel random. I suppose it's meant to look like a series of essays and discourses - about cooking, flowers, whatever - but to me, a magazine needs to have purpose, and if you pick a subject to discuss you make it clear "why we are talking about this, and why now". It's not just enough to assemble a bunch of interesting women - I'm not interested in stuff happening in a vacuum.
Maybe I'm judging The Gentlewoman by magazine conventions which the magazine actually seeks to break from, but while some things need to evolve, some common sense principles about how people should read and be presented with information are established for a reason, no? Some of my fave bits in the new issue of The Gentlewoman was that one about women in Berlin, which was cool because it was snapshot of women in a real city, in their own spaces, and how they live. It had context.
In the same vein, Fantastic Men could have done better - they had a great profile of men in four cities, with beautifully shot portraits of interesting people, but they were all studio shots. Why bother telling me this is Berlin and this is New York when it's all a white background anyway?
I think there's a deliberate attempt to strip down and really keep the focus on people and what they do, which is nice, but again, people in isolation is just not compelling to me. The world doesn't revolve around them, they're making a contribution to the world, so why not show a little bit of that.
That said, both magazines are stars; and they are issues to be bought and kept and reread. It's not easy to find a magazine that's more than shiny happy pictures and I'm looking forward to the next issues already. In the meantime, I'll be happily reading and rereading this.