In my experience every magazine exists in three distinct phases: when an issue first appears it is new, exciting and possibly fleeting; later it is read more selectively and in more detail; and lastly it gets filed away and if lucky becomes historical archive.
Magazines are created for those first two phases. They are of and for the moment. By the time an issue appears, the publisher has already shifted their attention to the next issue and by the time the reader has read their copy they are looking forward to the next one.
Looking back over older magazines is a very different experience. We are reading them in a new and unintended context, and other elements come into play: values and attitudes have changed, language has morphed. What was once ‘normal’ is no longer accepted as such. The quality of the paper, production and printing have their own stories to add to the written and visual content.
Magazines that have been published over a long period of time have their own archives, a vast resource to call upon and use. This latest Page 23 shows how a longstanding magazine can do exactly that.
With over 500 issues in its archive, Interview has a vast history behind it. To mark the recent death of US fashion maven André Leon Talley, the magazine dug out its August 1976 issue and in its current edition has reproduced a complete layout from it on p23, featuring Talley and a brief biography of ‘the most talked about new social diarist of 1976.’
What better way to record Talley’s career than to look back in this way, and at the same time gently remind readers that Interview itself is a journal of record for the NY celebrity-fashion scene?
Plus, we can enjoy the design of the pre-Mac era. The hand-drawn borders (hello Rotring pen!) around the caption (above) have uneven widths, and the ‘N’ slightly overlaps the vertical rule to its right.
Any magazine with this type of longevity should make sure they look after their archive and mine it for these moments.
Editor-in-chief Mel Ottenberg
Editorial & design director Richard Turley
Mel Ottenberg and Richard Turley will be speaking together about Interview at magCulture Live New York, on Sunday 22 May. Details here.