For all intents and purposes The Skirt Chronicles is a journalism-driven indie French fashion magazine. Its name is the first giveaway, then the bulk of features inside: an interview with fashion journalist Joan Juliet Buck, an examination of the ubiquity of ‘French Style’, and numerous fashion shoots.
Interestingly however, The Skirt Chronicles makes no admission of this. Instead, on the About page of the magazine’s website, founders Sarah de Mavaleix, Sofia Nebiolo and Haydée Touitou describe it as “a publication founded by women which reflects a feminine voice yet does not exclude anyone from the conversation.” The magazine serves “as a collaborative platform with the ambition of creating a community which celebrates diverse cultures and generations.” The editors have made a conscious decision to keep the magazine’s remit incredibly broad. Future issues will decide if this is a benefit or a flaw.
Highlights of issue two include a conversation with Argentine artist Luna Paiva accompanied by atmospheric photographs of her sculpting process (above); The Dinner on Rua Da Madalena, a charming, illustrated short story by Joana Avillez; and Temae, a photo essay playfully documenting traditional textiles collected by Christophe Victoor (below).
The layout of The Skirt Chronicles is particularly striking. Having worked at a magazine for some years, I have been party to many hours scrutinising issue flat plans (or, put simply: what goes where). Agonising over the journey a reader takes through a magazine, or at least the journey you wish for them to take, is a major part of creating a publication. Yet, in reality, very few read a magazine from cover to cover.
The Skirt Chronicles takes a fresh approach. Articles are ordered chronologically: the earlier the article is submitted, the sooner in the magazine it appears. There is a disclaimer on the Contents page (above): “Some liberty was taken, of course, to insure [sic: there are a number of spelling mistakes that have found themselves into the magazine – presumedly a result of a French magazine written in English] the readers comfort whilst discovering The Skirt Chronicles.” We are not told the extent of these liberties (does it concern one article? Does it concern ten?) and working out if this is a gimmick or a genuine effort to introduce a hierarchy where editorial precedes design isn’t straightforward. Settling with the latter, involving writers in the design process is an interesting step towards creating the ”collaborative platform” that the magazine promises.
Its design is another draw. Slight in its journal-like A5 form, The Skirt Chronicles has an air of retro about it. Serif text and matt off-white pages add to the magazine’s overall bookish appearance, and the lack of attention-seeking glossy pages mirrors the humble founding principles of the magazine. The Skirt Chronicles isn’t daunting in the way that many fashion magazines are.