MEDIA: FASHION TITLES - Harking back to a golden age of style/Two titles that had their heyday in the 1960s are preparing to relaunch, but will the respect they had then translate into success on the newsstands?

When magazine editors gather together for any length of time, there are three historic titles from the late 1960s that are almost guaranteed to come up in conversation - US Esquire, classic British women’s magazine Nova and Playboy.

When magazine editors gather together for any length of time, there

are three historic titles from the late 1960s that are almost guaranteed

to come up in conversation - US Esquire, classic British women’s

magazine Nova and Playboy.

Now, two of them are set to return to the shelves in more or less that

spirit. IPC is re-launching Nova at some point next year and Esquire

editor Peter Howarth is planning a re-vamp of his title to take it away

from new laddishness, and move it back to the roots of men’s


While Esquire defined a school of journalism, with writers such as

Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe creating a personalised style that was the

basis of most modern magazine writing, Nova was famous for its design

Its covers, in particular, have been copiously copied by fashion

magazines such as The Face, Dazed and Confused and underground fashion

title Blow.

In the 1960s, Esquire used a Madison Avenue ad man to design its stark,

powerful covers, eschewing the traditional in-house art director. While

not copying this technique, the 21st century Esquire is using cover art

as its clarion call.

For a start, aside from going against the grain by putting a man on the

front cover - Johnny Depp - in order to maintain the purity of the

image, the traditional men’s mag cover lines will be attached to the mag

on a removable plastic strip. Thus, the readers will be able to keep the

artistic Depp shot without the clutter of contemporary magazine


Over at Nova, IPC is keeping tight-lipped about the appearance and

launch date of the new magazine. There are clearly some months to go,

however, because the editor, former Scene editor Deborah Bee, is still

recruiting staff.

The publisher is also unwilling to give too many details of its target

readership. When presented with Nova’s original target market - the ’new

woman’, an intelligent housewife, well-bred, with time to kill and money

to spend - Nova’s publishing director Rita Lewis explains that such a

category no longer exists.

’I think it was inevitable as far as Esquire was concerned,’ says

Michael Oliviera-Salac, former Blow editor, who now works for the


’There’s a huge gap in the market now that the ’new lad’ is dying out.

When it comes to Nova, I think IPC is going to have to be very careful

to ensure it has an independent spirit, rather than a big corporation

attitude, because with something as cool as Nova you’re going to

struggle to do it justice.’


Position: editor

Circulation: 100,380

Publisher: The National Magazine Company

Frequency: monthly

Readership: men between 25 and 33

’I had a conversation about Esquire recently that really made me think.

I was telling a friend about the stories we had in the magazine and the

fact that we’d done a huge feature on the IRA and the first interview

with Osama Bin Laden and he held up the magazine - which had a blonde in

a bikini on the cover - and said ’this doesn’t look like the magazine

you described’.

’I had a sulk, but I thought about it and he was right. I’m a

35-year-old father of two and I wouldn’t leave my own magazine out on

the table when guests came round. I went to the board of NatMags to get

an agreement to change the cover policy and they were incredibly

supportive. I told them it would take a year to work through and, to

their credit, they were fine with that.

’What we’re going to do is treat men and women equally on the cover.

That means taking a powerful head and shoulders shot of whoever our

cover star is and refusing to re-enter the ’tottie in a bikini’ battle

that we’ve been engaged in.

’Our circulation has been up year-on-year every month for the past eight

months, so I think our readers should be able to handle the switch. It’s

in keeping with the Esquire of the 1960s, which used Norman Mailer, Tom

Wolfe, Alan Ginsberg and Aldous Huxley. We use writers like Martin Amis,

the novelist David Flusfeder, Giles Foden and Eammon O’Neil to give us

investigative stories or to spend three months with the All Blacks.

’We’ll insist on spending three days with a star over a period of

months, not just half-an-hour in a hotel room on a press junket. But

that’s not to say the magazine will be too worthy. What people forget

about 1960s Esquire is that, next to Norman Mailer, it had pictures of

Racquel Welch in a bikini. I’m not averse to pictures of beautiful

women. They just don’t belong on the cover.’


Position: publishing director

Circulation: tbc

Publisher: IPC Magazines

Frequency: monthly

Readership: undisclosed

’When I came to IPC 18 months ago, I knew we needed a directional

fashion title and I was really excited by Scene. I told IPC that we

should buy Scene and we had a meeting with the publisher but he only

wanted to sell 49 per cent, so we took his four key staff instead. We

started work on a project which eventually became the new Nova.

’It’s going to be an intelligent, passionate and committed magazine but

it has to have fun. Young women like having fun. We have got strong

reportage but we have also got a great feature on set with the Friends

girls. It is hard hitting and fun at the same time. I am aware there’s a

risk that we will cannibalise Marie Claire’s readership, but I don’t

think it is a big risk. Nova can be bolder than Marie Claire and there

are two or three other women’s magazines out there that I think are


’Obviously the fashion is really important. Deborah Bee is recruiting

people, and she started with fashion people. We have taken David Roberts

from GQ as fashion deputy, but I think we are avoiding recruiting people

on the strength of job titles we need to fill. We will happily recruit

someone from television with strong ideas, even if they have no print

experience, and create a job for them.

’The visual side of the mag is crucial, but I am not going to be tied

down by the old Nova. The market has moved on. We will have strong and

arresting covers and we won’t be afraid to use powerful images if we are

campaigning around an issue, but I don’t think we want to shock people

for the sake of it. The readers will see through that anyway.

’I see Nova in the same market as Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire, but

younger than Vogue and harder-hitting than Elle. The problem that a

magazine like Vogue has is that, of course, it is the fashion bible, but

it is read by women from 18 to 55. There aren’t too many 55-year-olds

who are going to be reading Nova, so the younger readers are going to

find we have a tone that matches what they want.’

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