FASHION GRAFFITI: Do I LoveThe New W Magazine?

I have always had a love/hate relationship with W Magazine. From a designer’s perspective, I loved how they used typography in their headlines to make bold statements about the magazine. I would search around the internet and in typophile chat rooms to see who could identify some of the fonts that they had used. But I also hated it because of its size – it’s a monstrosity. It pokes out amongst my other 15 or so fashion magazines when I am in line at the bookstore. I have symmetry issues.

So I was very curious, actually quite fanatical about getting the September issue. It could have easily been considered borderline stalking. I was eager because I knew that this issue symbolized the changing of the guard which ushers in the Tonchi years. What design changes would it bring? Would it still be gigantic in size? Will his design team still seek out those amazing fonts to use in their headlines? So after weeks of having difficulty finding moments to give it a good read, I finally sat down to lust over every single page.

Verdict? I am not sure yet. First, let me just say that in design, the slightest change to one element can have an incredible impact. Take the decision to change the typeface of the W to italics with no fill. When I saw that W in italics (I hated the fill), I got a little bit of a tingle and had a giggle to myself about how it was brilliant. That alone set the tone for my stalking. I started calling around to local bookstores to see if it had arrived. When I found one, I dashed off like a maniac to get it.

As a brand manager, I love the tagline – “Who, What, Where, When and Why in the World of Style.” How brilliant to play off the “W” that way. Sheer genius. You just told the whole world that you will bring it all to us, whatever “it” is, every month without fail. So go ahead. Woo me.

As I flipped through the pages, I was a little surprised. While I miss the playful typography, the predictable and standardized use of fonts was very successful. Again, I have symmetry issues. It was comforting to see structure and organization. I need a fashion magazine that is not all over the place. I have a design eye that is somewhat minimalist. Unfortunately, that is not what you will find in most fashion mags in the U.S. They try to cram so much stuff on each page that I am easily disturbed. Did I say that I had symmetry issues? I need the pages to have a clean design and and legible fonts and interesting articles and gorgeous photography that will push the boundaries. That’s not too much to ask, right?

So I kept reading. I had mixed feelings about the What section. There was some playful attempts with fonts in the smaller sub-sections. But each section made me want more and more. What a tease. The “True Blood” article was delectable. Those fabulous glossy brick red lips had to belong to Lara Stone. I wanted more from the “Flight of Fancy” article about the collaboration between the late Alexander McQueen and the Rug Company. Show me all of the rugs. But the one-pager spotlights on various accessories was very seductive. Go on, seduce me. I will give in.

The Who, Where and When sections were unexpected and delightful. The Who section was full of people that you should know. I especially loved the article about Pritzer-winning architect, Kazuyo Sejima. Good to know that there is another female architect holding down the fort with Zaha Hadid. The When section was a calendar of events covering music, art, food, and fashion. The Where section was of course journeys to fabulous places including a visit to the beautiful Montenegro, tackling art in the East Side in Lower Manhattan, and coverage of a wedding between two globe-trotters in the South of France.

Several of the Why articles were scary, really scary. I have an open mind but not that open. There was also a report on cosmetic surgery. Really? Cosmetic surgery? Yeah, that’s a subject that no one has written about - NOT! Please work a little harder on the Why section. It is sad at the moment.

I must say that the fashion spreads didn‘t stray too far from the previous administration. Probably because W is using the usual suspects who take amazing photographs. Which is a good thing. You just can't go wrong when Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are behind the lens. So I renewed my subscription. I am inspired. Stefano Tonchi, make me fall in love.

Tell us what you think about the new W magazine under Stefano Tonchi.