With the majority of mainstream women’s magazines focused on fashion, celebrities, beauty, and fad diets, there is undeniably something lacking for women who are seeking alternatives to ‘how to get rid of cellulite’ articles or what the Kardashian/ Jenner clan wore to an event inaccessible to the majority of the population. Which is why when magazines appear that do differ from the status quo they should be discussed at length with both joy and admiration.
The magazines below are examples of a changing tide in the publication world, flag bearing the way to contemporary independent publishing through a range of issues including art, design, music, business, innovation, politics, food and travel.
With stars such as Adele, Beyoncé, Bjork and Sofia Coppola to grace its cover, The Gentlewoman is no small feat. Founded by celebrated Dutch publishers Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom as a sister magazine to the widely successful Gentleman magazine, the biannual magazine has become a key fixture in the publishing world. Admired for its intelligent and witty journalism, the Gentlewoman focuses on the lives and stories of real women rather than celebrities and product reinforcement, defying conventions about what women’s magazines look like and proving that fashion is not about spending money, but pursuing style.
At the helm of Gentlewoman is Penny Martin, an ex-curator at The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television and previously the editor of SHOWstudio.com. Her direction of the magazine has been to celebrate smart and interesting women with something to say. The interviews conducted open up the interviewees as human beings with real, interesting stories, showcasing what the women they feature are like behind their career curtain or celebrity persona. The ethos of the magazine is to have one part fashion to four parts other things. The women they feature are intelligent, elegant and spread across a wide array of fields, reflecting a bigger universe than celebrity culture or the fashion circuit. When asked by The Scotsman how she wants the women featured to be represented the editor's reply was, “I just want people to say, 'God, she's great, I love her.'" Which is exactly what we think of her.
Described as a smart magazine for women, Riposte is very much what is advertised. With many features written in essay format, the magazine profiles bold and fascinating women whose achievements speak for themselves. Examples include a letter penned by Ericka Hart, a breast cancer survivor, sex educator, and performer, on why chronic illness doesn't look one particular way, to an interview with Muslim kick-boxer Ruqsana Begum about life in and out of the ring.
Launched by Danielle Pender in 2013 out of her growing frustration with the limited content on offer in other women’s magazines, Riposte has quickly grown into a much-loved publication, offering countless examples of female inspiration and showcasing exemplary standards in design and photography. The interviews are conducted honestly and informally rather than being full of media trained responses, with the women candidly discussing their successes & failures, work, passions, and perspectives. The magazine promises intelligent editorial and beautiful design and it is exactly what it delivers on.
For those looking to read a magazine both visually stunning and equally witty, Phoenix magazine is for you. Established in 2010 by Hannah Kane and Leigh Keily as a lifestyle brand for the freethinking modern woman, Pheonix has been described as one of fashion week's most forward thinking magazines. Whilst still featuring content such as beauty trends and fashion shoots, Pheonix is independently run and strays from the mold many other printed glossies are structured around. Rather than a set focus on fashion, the magazine captures all elements of culture, with content such as film releases, contemporary new music, thought provoking art, in-depth features and witty bits of news included in each issue. With a strong cult following, Pheonix Magazine is a literary and visual delight, offering 300 pages of exclusive interviews, trends, fashion shoots, style ideas, prose features, counter-culture discussion, philosophy, art, music, books, and film. The magazine is known for its support of emerging talent and new designers and has quickly become London’s finest breakthrough fashion publication.