Archive for the ‘supplements’ Category

Joan Collins, Madonna and Kate Moss on magazine covers

December 22, 2014
Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail's Weekend supplement  - 30 August 2014

Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail’s Weekend supplement this year

When it comes to longevity as a magazine cover star, the prize has to go to the actress Joan Collins. I’ve identified her as far back as 1951 at the age of 18 on the cover of Tit-Bits and there can’t have been a year since when she hasn’t graced a magazine, from Picture Post, to Span, to Film Review, Woman, Playboy and OK! That’s 63 years a cover star.

But although she may not be showing her age – the Weekend supplement cover here is from August this year – Collins is getting on (she’s 81!), so who can rival her in future? Two names spring out –  Madonna and Kate Moss (far too early to consider Lady Gaga). So what are their chances of rivalling Joan Collins?

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Joan Collins had a massive boost to her career with the role of Alexis in Dallas and such reworkings are vital to a long career. Madonna is back in the news at the moment over the ‘artistic rape’ she says she suffered because someone stole demo tapes from her new album. There’s no doubt the US-born singer and actress is a brilliant self-publicist. She has been recognised as the best-selling female record artist on record. Now 56, Madonna’s first Vogue cover was February 1989. Before that, she was a Smash Hits cover in 1984, when she was coming up to the age of 26. That’s 30 years as a cover star and, assuming she is still popular when she’s 81, another 25 years to go, total: 55 years of cover stardom.

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss turned 40 this year and marked it with a Playboy cover. Her modelling fortune was made by her appearance – as a scrawny 16-year-old – on a 1990 cover of style bible The Face shot by Corinne Day. Moss was the face of the Third Summer of Love (the others being 1967 and then the rave summer of 1988).

Starting at such an early age clearly gives Kate Moss an advantage. She has 24 years behind her and, assuming the 81 limit again, 41 years to go. Total: 65. That early start at 16 gives her a potential two-year edge on Joan Collins and a full decade on Madonna. Her first cover was on the Face, a relatively niche title, whereas Tit-Bits in 1951, the launch platform for Joan Collins, was probably selling a million copies a week. In contrast, Moss has been on a Vogue cover – frequently twice a year – just about every year since 1997, whereas Collins has never been on a Vogue cover.

On a personal level, Collins is on her fifth marriage – including Anthony Newley, one of the most gifted actors, singers and songwriters of his generation (Goldfinger title song, a dozen top 40 hits, roles in Dr Dolittle and Eastenders) – and has three children.

Madonna has been married twice – to Dead Man Walking actor Sean Penn and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie – and has four children. Moss has been married just once and has a child from her relationship with Dazed magazine co-founder Jefferson Hack.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Kate Moss, or Madonna, has the staying power and the ability to appeal to such a wide range of people as Joan Collins.

Goalen – the super model face of the 1950s

June 13, 2014
super model - mannequin - Barbara Goalen

Sunday Times Magazine celebrates the style of 1952, as personified by super model Barbara Goalen (30 January 1977)

Model – or rather ‘mannequin’ in the teminology of the day – Barbara Goalen was chosen by the Sunday Times Magazine as the personification of the style of 1952.

The issue marked changes in ‘Britain at Work’ over the 25 years since Queen Elizabeth’s coming to the throne in 1952 in an article titled ‘The New Elizabethans’ (30 January 1977).

In that year, Goalen had been part of a 40,000-mile world tour over four weeks to promote British fashions and exports.

Goalen was born on the first day of 1921 and died in 2002. She was renowned for her wasp waist and her aloof looks.  Her measurements were 33 inches (for her ‘charlies’ in her own words), 18-in waist and 31-in hips; she tipped the scales at under eight stones.

Goalen’s modelling face was marked by arched eyebrows and she was the ideal mannequin for Dior’s New Look – ‘mink and diamonds’.

Despite her international success, she would be the leading super model in today’s terms, Goalen gave up modelling in 1954 when she married Nigel Campbell, a Lloyd’s underwriter. In the 1960s, she gave out fashion advice in the pages of the Daily Telegraph.

The National Portrait Gallery has four  photographs of Goalen ranging from 1949 to 1952, by Norman Parkinson (one with Wenda Parkinson, Parks’ wife since 1947) and John French. A fourth image from Keystone Press shows Goalen next to a portrait of herself by James Proudfoot.

Barbara Goalen on the cover of the general interest weekly Illustrated in 1953

Barbara Goalen on the cover of the general interest weekly Illustrated (29 August 1953)

The cover of Illustrated here shows an image from the shoot chosen by the Sunday Times Magazine. (There is a certain irony here in that the advent of free Sunday supplements sparked by the Sunday Times, was a big factor in killing off the general interest weeklies such as Illustrated.) Illustrated headlines Goalen as modelling the ‘London Look’. Inside, two photographers are credited, Peter Waugh and David Olins. (Some websites have identified the photographer as Richard Avedon, but this seems unlikely.)

Illustrated rival Picture Post also featured Goalen cover on its cover in 1952, in this case with a photo by John French.


Kitchener – this is not a poster!

May 29, 2014
Daily Mail's Event magazine with its Ralph Steadman article

Daily Mail’s Event magazine with its Ralph Steadman article that mistakenly identifies a poster as the original London Opinion cover

Whatever the faults of the Daily Mail, it exhibits a sense of history in the logo it carries on its ‘answers to readers questions’ page. The logo is based on the original title for the magazine that founded the Daily Mail dynasty back in 1888: Answers to Correspondents on Every Subject under the Sun, founded by Alfred Harmsworth.

Logo from the present-day Daily Mail - based on a magazine title from the 1880s

Logo from the present-day Daily Mail – based on a magazine title from the 1880s

As Answers, this became a massive success, building on the pioneering George Newnes’s Tit-Bits, for which Harmsworth had worked, to help establish British magazines as the first truly mass media. Answers claimed to answer questions sent in by readers directly by post, and those of general interest were published. Answers was a such a success that it was the foundation of a magazine and newspaper empire, the likes of which the world had never seen. Alfred and his brother Harold went on to found both the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, then buy up both the Sunday Observer and the Times and become lords Northcliffe and Rothermere. Alongside the newspapers, the Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press (later Fleetway) became the largest periodical publishing empire in the world. Viscount Rothermere rules the roost at today’s descendant, the Daily Mail & General Trust.

London Opinion 1914

The original magazine cover – this is NOT a poster!

So it’s no surprise that the paper is running a series to mark World War One, including an 80-page souvenir issue of its listings section, Event. Pride of place in the May 4 edition was a feature by the brilliant Ralph Steadman, whose father fought in that war and was injured three times. Steadman interprets Alfred Leete’s famous Kitchener image and the article make reference  to its original appearance as a London Opinion cover – but then shows one of the early London Opinion posters in the centre of the spread rather than the magazine cover!

The error adds to half a century of no less an august body than the Imperial War Museum (which was given the artwork by Leete) getting it wrong; Picture Post using the artwork in 1940 and again referring to it only a poster; and biographers such as  Philip Magnus adding to the confusion. Even the British Library captions the cover as a poster in an article by the historian Professor David Welch. To cap it all, the Royal Mint makes no reference to Leete even as it copies his artwork for a commemorative coin!

The full story of Alfred Leete’s cover illustration for London Opinion is told in the book, The Amazing Kitchener Poster.


November 28, 2012

Grace Coddington has a book out so the publicity interviews with US Vogue‘s model-turned-creative-director have been all over the supplements.  The Observer Magazine has an interview by Eva Wiseman, while Janet Maslin provides for the New York Times. But they diverge on the facts. Wiseman writes:

‘While Wintour is painted as a terrifying ice queen … Coddington never wears make-up…’

Maslin writes:

‘Abruptly she mentions the ghastly car accident that severed one of her eyelids. The injury was miraculously repaired, but it sidelined her for a while and pushed her to affect dark and heavy eye makeup. Today, still a provocateur who prefers extremes to the dull middle, she lightens the area around her eye sockets to achieve what she calls “that pale, bald Renaissance look.” It’s a look that sends a spooky message to the conventional beauty world.’

Take a look at the Observer photographs by Danielle Levitt or the many other profiles and see who you believe.

Julie Kavanagh’s 2011 profile in Intelligent Life is a much closer portrait, but then Kavanagh was her assistant in the 1970s.

Also, Vogue has put up a Coddington timeline, videos of interviews and an excerpt from the book and shows Coddington as the model for Vidal Sassoon’s Five Point Cut.

Vogue profile



Magazines expand revenue sources

March 17, 2011

In the 1980s, I worked as a sub and reporter for two weekly medical newspapers: Doctor and Hospital Doctor. In each issue of both, there was a spread of reader offers by post: one page for medical equipment, the other for general goods. It was a good source of income and an idea I copied at Redwood Publishing – I was later told the cash income from one offer saved the company from going bust.

But the idea of publishers selling goods off the page goes back far longer than that. Tit-Bits, that great Victorian pioneer of marketing and all these magazines, spun off books, puzzles and offers of all kinds. Publishers have always sought new sources of revenue because the margins are often far higher than the main publishing business – the trick is not to upset your advertisers.

And it’s still true today, with Future this week teaming up with the Telegraph to produce computer guides for the newspaper’s readers. Windows: The Official Magazine has developed Confident Computing supplements that will be published on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 March, for the Daily Telegraph’s 1.68m readers and the Sunday Telegraph’s 1.45m readers. That’s a lot of publicity for the magazine, and Future will be hoping that the glossy, 52-page supplements will draw less tech-savvy users into the magazine with sections on email, online shopping, internet security and hardware and troubleshooting tips. Alongside the Saturday supplement will be a subscription deal offering three copies of Windows: The Official Magazine for just £1 each.

Future obviously sees potential growth in the magazine (seems strange, just as PC and laptop sales are being hit by the iPad frenzy) with a series of Official Windows Presents set for April, an example of ‘brand extension’ in today’s jargon. Each of these will focus on how computing can help people ‘get more from life’ in areas such as home entertainment, travel, buying and selling online and healthy living.

This is an area where Future has experience: in the 1990s, the Financial Times bought the publisher to pursue just such activities, but the idea floundered and Future took itself independent again.

Other recent ideas include:

But the title that’s really made a go of it in this area in Tyler Brule’s Monocle.

  • shops selling its branded goods in London and four other cities;
  • goods made by international brands, from a £20 Monocle notebook to a £370 blanket for sale online;
  • Other products branded with its logo have included: a Comme des Garçons perfume; a bicycle; bags; and a Danish-made table. Its bags costs £155-£270. Media Week reckoned it had sold 2000. At £200 each, that’s an income of 400,000, comparable with the magazine selling 100,000 copies a month at £5 each;
  • sponsored online video intervieews, reports and travel guide sponsored by the likes of Maurice Lacroix, Spanish tourism and Bloomberg.

Observer relaunch on Sunday

February 18, 2010

The Observer is relaunching on Sunday. The revamp of the magazine supplement it did in 1994 is one of my favourites.

In the week before, the editor seemed to deliberately choose the most downbeat cover topic possible and the designer gave it a cover to match. See what I mean  –

Observer supplement 27 Marchh 1994

How much more dreadful a cover can you get - everything is going downhill

Then comes the wham-bam redesign next week:

Observer supplement redesign 1994

A whacky contrast in all senses of the word from the relanch the week after

In August last year, the Guardian Media Group put the future of the loss-making Observer – the world’s oldest Sunday dating back to 1781 – on review. At the end of the day, the group exists to preserve the Guardian and so the Sunday’s future seemed in doubt. Instead, GMG sold the Manchester Evening News and the rest of its regional titles to Mirror-owning Trinity, thus cutting its ties with the city that gave it birth as the campaigning Manchester Guardian.

Profiles of newspaper groups

FT’s How To Spend It goes online

October 2, 2009

The new website for How To Spend It, the monthly luxury magazine for the Financial Times, goes online tomorrow.  The advent of – which dubs itself  ‘The world’s most luxurious website’ – coincides with the 15th anniversary of the magazine and promises a “highly innovative and visually stunning digital format”.

The design was handled by Razorfish and uses Adobe Flash 10 to translate ‘the glossy magazine reading experience into a convincing luxury online environment’ with a 3D viewing format.

The website will feature exclusive online content:

  • Van der postings: Lucia van der Post, launch editor for the original magazine, is the new star columnist;
  • The Aesthete – a new magazine column about the world’s tastemakers;
  • Technopolis TV – magazine columnist Jonathan Margolis with weekly video bulletins from the world of gadgets and technology.
  • Reconnoisseur – daily insider intelligence from magazine contributors.
  • Daily gift guide launches in November
  • Videos of the magazine’s most visually compelling features, including a behind-the-scenes video of an underwater fashion shoot

Editor Gillian de Bono said:

How To Spend It set the benchmark for luxury lifestyle magazines 15 years ago and now we want to establish the brand as the benchmark for luxury lifestyle websites too. To this end, the print and online operations are fully integrated, produced and edited by a single in-house team using the same top-tier writers, photographers and illustrators.

Launch sponsors include Rolex, Krug and Harry Winston.

Until now, there has been a digital facsimile edition of the magazine.

Evening Standard puts magazine online

December 13, 2008

London’s Evening Standard newspaper has put its weekly magazine, ES, online. However, the magazine, which comes with the paper on Wednesdays, has not gone for a digital facsimile version. Instead, it’s a website with a landing page showing a rolling display of the three top features – Duffy, men in tights and ice queen fashion at Somerset House’s  rink this week.

It’s sponsored by Emporio Armani and also has room for Sienna Miller holding hands with Keira Knightley at the British Independent Film Awards.

Fabulous gap for the Screws

February 11, 2008

Peter Preston, former Guardian editor, argues that Fabulous, the new supplement for the News of the World that is firmly aimed at women, has opened up a gap between itself and the rest of the paper (‘Nice try to turn the Screws, but is it Fabulous?‘).

The News of the World had plodded away with its boob-congested old Sunday supplement over three decades: flimsy, tatty, downmarket, all of a piece with the paper it accompanied. But Fabulous is wholly different.

This, he feels, could be a problem for the main paper’s editor:

The problem is wondering whether the rest of the paper – shrewdly edited by a real old pro, Colin Myler – can keep up with what the girls are doing with their bumper bundle. You can smarten up the typography – Myler has. You can add oodles more colour – Myler will, as soon as all Rupert Murdoch’s new presses come on stream in a few months’ time.

Yet, nevertheless, it is still the old News of the Screws: sharp-elbowed, crudely jokey, inexorably locked into nights of passion with minor TV stars and tales of what happens when Gary Goldenfoot plays away. There isn’t a neat, natural fit, in sum. There isn’t the snug placing the Mail on Sunday contrives for its two added mags [You for its women readers and Live, ‘the only men’s magazine in the national press’], cleverly constructed extensions of the core newsprint version’s appeal.

He sums up:

A magazine that works on Sunday has to belong to the main body of the kirk and bring something to the party – which means it’s down to Myler now.

Fabulous launch -‘So this is fabulous?’

So this is Fabulous?

February 6, 2008

Kelly Osbourne on Fabulous coverThe relaunched News of the World supplement Fabulous hit the streets on Sunday as ‘Britain’s biggest weekly glossy’.  It justifies the  word ‘biggest’ not on the strength of its size  (74  sub-A4 pages) but on the fact that it has the biggest print run  (the paper sells 3.2m every week).

Kelly Osbourne was the cover girl (she’s 23 – and still calls herself a brat) and the rest seems to tick all the right boxes (diet, relationships, fashion, beauty and lifestyle) for the target female audience. Will NotW now follow the Mail with a mag for men?

The magazine seems to have taken a leaf out of rival Express publisher Richard Desmond with an attempt to make money off the back of a website.  He tried it with a whole bookshelf magazine linked to a website; Fabulous sells the clothes it features in an online ’boutique’ (you can ‘click and buy’ the dresses Osbourne’s wearing and Chloe Sevigny’s ‘so-so’ glasses) and there are copious links to a dating website.

Most of the articles from the mag are on the website, though the  designs  are rejigged because web layouts have to be cruder than in print. For example, the Suzanne Shaw beauty page has the headline moved to the top of the web page because it would be below the ‘fold’ otherwise. In other cases, a page with several items has them presented individually online.

The Guardian gives the mag a big review and says ‘To be fair to News International, the launch of Fabulous is a big deal.’ But is it? Sure the numbers are big, but do people really care about these supplements and other free mags?


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