If it’s restraint you want, check out Rank, a new glossy from photographer Rankin. Famous as the photographer-of-choice for the rich and famous (The Sunday Times recently called him the new David Bailey), and for his proprietorship of Dazed and Confused, Rankin has taken a bold step with this brave new mag. Where Colors carries a few tastefully sympathetic ads, Rank has the grand total of none: and a very welcome none it is too.
But what about the magazine? Any good? Yes, is the quick answer. Rank dispenses with much of the customary furnishings of magazine design; besides the absence of advertising, there is not much signposting, no articles and only the merest of editorials. In this slim editorial we are told that the fashion world needs more laughter and more jokes. And indeed, a few of the photographs in Rank contain jokes: a glamorous model wears a stick-on-beard and in another shot, grass appears where you might expect to see pubic hair.
But elsewhere the photography is witty rather than the source of belly laughs: beautiful women in their 50s pout like teenage catwalk models; a gang of Richard Seymour look-a-likes pose beefily in revealing swimming trunks. The rest of the photography, much of it superb, is from the Martin Parr school of murky realism (Parr himself is a contributor) and a number of spreads are dedicated to illustration.
I road-tested the first issue of the magazine on a few designers. Surprisingly, one or two admitted to regretting the lack of ads. Another noted the magazine’s similarity to a stock photography catalogue. Yet perhaps this flippant observation provides the answer to the question that hovers over Rank; if it isn’t carrying advertising, where is its revenue coming from? (A cover price of £7.95 means it ain’t cheap.) Despite its mild anti-fashion stance, Rank seems to be a sort of contact book for the fashion world. The editorial says: ‘Rank is about the talented young photographers, art directors, stylists, make-up artists and hair stylists who don’t think their talent or profession makes them better than people who have “normal” jobs’, and a note on the inside back cover invites contributions for future editions.
The design of the magazine is admirably unobtrusive, brutal even. Pictures mostly appear full bleed, none of them are captioned and none of the content is explained. In fact, everything in Rank is subservient to the image; nothing is allowed to get in the way of the photograph, and the effect is bold and dramatic.
Art Direction: Deep Creative
Photographic Assistant: Laurie Matt & Seto
Hair: Shinya Nakayanma
Make up: Lesley Tmenamin
Stylist: Miranda Robson