I finally got round to reading my copy of Porter, the new magazine from net-a-porter. I was irrationally excited to read it not least because for all that’s been said of it, its serious competition for Vogue, all the Vogues, which drew some snarky remarks from Alexander Schulman, EIC of Vogue UK, who likens Porter to a “grand Sainsbury’s magazine” talk about sour grapes… Ignore the nonsense talk because Porter is a feather ruffler. Its trajectory is unusual; it is not from a publishing giant its from an online retailer, albeit a giant in that field. Then again the premise of Net-a-Porter is shopping a magazine so in a sense, this was eventually inevitable. This is a battle between new money and old money and new money winning because it is doing things using traditional, old money methods but merging it with new platforms, innovation and better ideas, and in that sense, outdoing old money in its own playground. Old money is still finding its feet in this new world, what with all its history and what not…
Porter will be published in 11 languages and sold in 60 countries world wide, it is poised as a magazine for the smart woman on the move, today’s woman. It not only gives you the big glossy interviews, it gives you personable snippets: Victoria Beckham on Technology, lunch with Isabella Rosellini, Elbaz giving you quick tips on style in a way that doesn’t feel condescending. Even in those quick bursts of writing you feel that personal connection to the pages already. Its an authority relating to its subordinate like peers, even if its aimed at the high flying woman who has got everything and can afford the very high fashion clothes from the retailer, it still reads like the smart girl next door would enjoy it. Safe to say, it is not boring, its a bloody good read.
The best selling coup for me, and why I had to read this magazine, was that it did not have Kate Moss on the cover- ahem Vogue UK. Much as I love Kate Moss, I simply couldn’t handle another Moss cover. The cover picture is intimate without being tasteless, a flash of skin, inviting you to peek a little more then you see the full picture of Gisele Bundchen lying in bed, photograph by the fantastic Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (Inez and Vinoodh). In her interview the super model talks about the woman she hopes to one day be, her marriage and that whole breast feeding brouhaha. I’ve never been a huge fan of Gisele but you have to respect a woman who has gumption and is straight up no chaser, so major props to her. And the effortlessness in her photographs clearly shows why she is still the highest paid model out there.
The stories, the essays, they were personable and left me with an impression. Behind enemy lines- interview with Lynsey Addario the photojournalist is unexpected but eye opening. Another with Amanda Staveley, saviour of Barclays who overcame an eating disorder is as emotional as it was informative and raw. Not an easy feat to capture. My favourite article was by Harvey Weinstein on his road to the man he is today, Hollywood’s most powerful; “its the librarian’s fault”. It sheds a different light to his persona, its not all about the numbers, he is constantly reading and in that way searching. I like that, because its old school and very authentic, creative way. One cannot go wrong with a book to get a feel for a movie. The opening article about Social media, the age of intrusion and loss of mystery in Porter asks, is written by Carole Radziwill, part of the Kennedy dynasty and now a cast member of the The Real Housewives of New York City, a reality TV show, is the apt juxtaposition, if thats the right way to describe it. It hit so many nails on the head of so many things.
Its immediately obvious Porter wants to brings us so much more than fashion and introduce us to this other world… I’m for it.
So there was a lot to love about this but the one thing that left me very disappointed, and this is big, was the near lack of diversity. Porter has range but it is of a very white washed imagery. In the 282 pages of the magazine, it was too sparse on diversity- there were snippets of Condolezza Rice, in The New Power Sisterhood article, Serena Williams in The Comeback Queens, Chanel Iman on Pg 74 & 75 and Betty Adewole on Pg 61 both for the fashion memo and a Steve McQueen contributory column on Abi Morgan. Nothing in the fashion and beauty shoots and in an age where imagery is so powerful, this is a serious issue because you cannot claim to be a game changer if you are just going to continue to perpetuate the same old stereotypes of the industry. Maybe I’m being unfairly critical of the magazine because this is only its debut issue, but for a magazine aimed at celebrating WOMEN, a fair representation of that bracket; women from different backgrounds, would have made for an even more powerful debut.
Still, its worth the read.
Model Bianca Balti photographed by Cuneyt Akeroglu, Editor- Gillian Wilkins.Model- Karmen Pedaru Photographed by-Katja Rahwels, Editor- Maya Zepinic. Model- Nadja Bender, photographer-Ezra Petronio, Editor- Melanie Ward. Model- Julia Frauche, photographed by Camilla Akrans, Editor- Sissy Vian. Model-Chanel Iman, photographed by Paul Maffi, Editor- Maya Zepinic. Models- Sissi Hou, Stina Rapp and Betty Adewole, photographed by Victor Demarchelier, Editor- Maya Zepinic