Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Oh my god we shot Esquire in the foot

george lois esquire coversImage by Susan NYC via FlickrNot long ago I showed my students some of George Lois's classic covers for Esquire and they got very enthusiastic about them, aided most helpfully by Andrew Losowsky's great interview with Lois in Gym Class magazine.

Then on Monday I read a MediaGuardian interview with Alex Blimes, the new editor of Esquire's UK edition, in which he describes the cover of his first issue: 
"It's a sexy pinup shot ... It's supposed to be fun, bright and colourful and stand out from what other magazines are doing. Some people will think it's too laddy but that's because they have been conditioned to think there's a need to be too cool all the time. That is the trouble. We have been conditioned to think we shouldn't like this. Well, sod it, I do like it."
Leaving aside the strangely reactionary Daily Mail-like overtones of this statement, I fear for the future of Esquire. Previous editor Jeremy Langmead's first issue was notable (in my eyes) for not one but two pieces of advice about the correct length and type of sock to wear if you wanted to achieve success in business (a theme mocked in A A Gill's first column), but at least he had a different perspective. Running for the safety of a "sexy pinup shot" is the acme of shortsightedness.

Apart from the lack of imagination in putting a lingerie model on the cover ("licking her lips and pulling her bra strap in a saucy way" – is this Donald McGill reincarnated?), there was the highly unfortunate coincidence of Blimes's interview appearing on Monday followed by news of Kelly Brook's miscarriage on Tuesday. In essence "we" (that is, we men) were being invited to salivate over a woman who has just endured one of life's most harrowing misfortunes. Too cool?

George Lois, Esquire. New York MomaImage by lawrence's lenses via FlickrBack in magazine land, I am also stumped by this statement:
"Somewhere along the line upmarket men's magazines got a bit scared and didn't want to be associated with downmarket men's magazines ..."
Er, yes?

Tell you what, read the interview for yourself , look at the magazine and then ask yourself, "Didn't James Brown do this in 1994?" That's 17 years ago.

[Oddly enough Gym Class has a short interview with the current creative director The accompanying page shots do, I have to admit, look pretty good.]

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