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2010 March 30

Things to Discuss: Unpacking The Gentlewoman

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The Gentlewoman, Spring/Summer 2010 The Gentlewoman, Spring/Summer 2010
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(NEW YORK) Another week, another new magazine. Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers, those erudite talents behind Fantastic Man, have debuted its London-based sister glossy, The Gentlewoman, which is edited by Penny Martin. First, a bit of background: Van Bennekom hurled himself into the editorial world in 1997 with Re-Magazine, where he served as designer, art director, editor and publisher. Along with Jonkers, he launched Fantastic Man in 2005 to mostly unanimous accolades from the art and design worlds. Published in Amsterdam by Top Publishers (which also brings you Butt Magazine), Fantastic Man launched a website with daily content in 2009. Glossy-fatigued readers will be pleased to learn their latest project is just as blessedly gender-nonspecific as its allegedly male counterpart.

“Elegantly side-stepping the passive and cynical cool of recent decades, The Gentlewoman champions the optimism, sincerity and ingenuity that actually gets things done," writes EIC Penny Martin in her ed letter. The 37-year-old Scot edited Nick Knight's Showstudio website for seven years, and she currently serves as a professor of Fashion Imagery at the London College of Fashion. But for this project, she's hell-bent on l'écriture. “We wanted to make something that really demands to be read," she told Grazia. "Fashion magazines have become extremely visual recently and that’s great---for that. But our mission was to restore quality to editorial.”

It's no New Yorker, but ça suffit. For the most part, the subject matter is fresh. The "Contemporary Conversations” package features Q&As with designer Louise Gray, illustrator Julie Verhoeven, model Daisy Lowe, artist Anna Blessman, chef Kitty Travers and design critic Alice Rawsthorn. Although the concept of off-beat interviews doesn't exactly succeed---especially when one writer quizzes Lowe about household management---The Gentlewoman earns points for dogged reporting. (Ex: “What do you wear while doing chores? Can you describe the outfit? What’s your favorite apron? Do you clean up after house guests leave? Do you keep your bed tidy?”)

Another headscratcher? The unabashed Céline ubiquity. It begins on the salmon cover, which features a black-and-white inset portrait of Phoebe Philo sporting a Céline scaft (logo on the cover alert!), shot by David Sims and styled by Camilla Nickerson. Philo and her product subsequently appear on pages 10, 11, 48-59, 66, 67, 94, 98, 113, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 132, and 138. The three-and-a-half page profile concludes that Philo successfully manages her career and family. Non! Other Céline moments include the “Tall n’ Small” fashion well story, showcasing summer shorts on headless models. Philo used this concept in her first round of Céline advertisements. Coincidentally or not, they appear on pages 10 and 11 of The Gentlewoman. Page rate is listed at $13,000 for a single.

So read the rest for yourself---it's a slow news week, after all. An early verdict? Many will want to be Gentlewoman-ly, but it may take some time to learn the rules.
EMILY POPP




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