Printing Fashion #1
This new launch from Paris is a magazine about magazines, or more precisely fashion magazines, and brings some welcome intellectual rigour to the subject
Printing Fashion is the outcome of an event of the same name, held in March 2020. It’s rare to find such considered attention paid to the creative side of publishing and its role within the broader magazine industry. Here, I select five key moments from the issue.
The project theme ‘Time’ is neatly introduced by Sheri Klak’s look at the afterlife of magazines—what happens after they go off sale. Although slightly brief, it introduces the sense of magazines expiring, to be replaced by a new issue. The destruction of unsold copies gets a nod, as several Parisian shop owners are questioned about what happens to the remaindered copies. This is an area of our industry that desperately needs sorting, and it’s good to see it surface here.
The ephemeral nature of the magazine format is picked up further in a transcription of a roundtable discussion between magazine makers chaired by Haydée Toutiou from The Skirt Chronicles. Several French magazine makers share a healthy discussion about the changing model for magazines—fewer issues per year, the shift from news to views, and the way magazines today can be speeding trains of content or depositories of calm. The speakers share plenty of hands-on experience alongside a strong dose of intellectual rigour.
The flow of monochrome text is broken by a glossy section of images of printing. More an abstract examination of the tactile nature of ink and movement than a process guide, photographer Alfred Piola’s rich shots remind us of the physical interaction that goes into both making and interacting with magazines.
Just as the thinking around magazine-making can get too formulaic, so the computerisation of prodcution can separate us from physical manufacture. This is a beautiful reminder of the latter—I'd love to see more!
‘Thinking through the magazine’ was another roundtable event, a three-way discussion encouraging a broader and wider understanding of what ‘magazine’ means in terms of its role in research. Among many points highlighted, we are encouraged to interact with the entire contents of issues rather than only the front cover (‘go beyind the nice cover’), and to engage with the entire system of production and distribution and not just the print artefact. Towards the end, Gabriel Monti of the University of Venice makes the point that “magazines are built to trigger imagination’ and this discussion does precisely that.
A second photographic feature contrasts subjective visual interpretations of several fashion titles with their ostensibly objective colophon lists. Conceived by students at Parsons Paris, the images convey audience response, while the colophons reveal the complex codes and systems each magazine uses to direct credit and state the terms of their project.
Printing Fashion is imperfect; naturally, a number of the texts are only available in French, and you can sense that, being the result of live events, some skate over points that may have been more tightly argued had they been originally written as texts.
But these issues are more than made up for by the quality of thought present in its pages. It’s exciting to see the magazine taken seriously from multiple points of view. There are new ideas here, as well as welcome reminders af familair ones.
If you love magazines, this one will certainly trigger your imagination.
Editors-in-chief: Justin Morin & Marco Pecorari
Art direction: Monica Fraile Morisson