Artificial fibre

Lifestyle magazines let you buy into an exclusive way of life. If they are the interface for the masses to relate to the few, much of what they are is often mythical, intangible and conceptual. In this respect, Nylon is the perfect concept magazine.

The spine calls Nylon “the new magazine for women (and smart guys)”. Edited bi-coastally by the team that gave the US Ray Gun and Bikini, it is aimed at the “streetwise, young-thinking woman”, a niche which, despite Nylon, has plenty of room left to fill. Ex-supermodel Helena Christensen is the creative director, which is without a doubt the magazine’s biggest selling point.

At the launch, Christensen was besieged by journalists, TV crews and photographers, as well as the usual rubberneckers wanting to snatch a glimpse of a true celebrity. Having withstood a couple of hours of air-kisses, answering the same boring questions (“Have you really given up modelling Helena?”), She was still willing to answer a few questions.

She admits that she will not be involved in the day-to-day running of Nylon, but hopes to bring a “free-spirited influence to the magazine, something that young girls can relate to”. This elusive quality has, according to Christensen, been lacking from women’s magazines.

Photojournalism is her new trade. At the end of our brief discussion she commented that what she was saying “probably sounds like a load of bullshit” – an ambiguous statement that either means she isn’t taking her new venture too seriously or has the kind of self-deprecating sense of humour supermodels aren’t supposed to possess.

As you would expect from the man who hired David Carson to design Ray Gun and Scott Clum to design Bikini, publisher Marvin Scott Jarrett has put together a visually striking magazine. The cover is uninspiring – the Nylon logotype is a bold sans serif typeface that could grace any style mag; the hot pink colour is looking as dated as that garish orange currently so popular.

Inside, it gets better – Christensen has taken some good photos – her shots of Liv Tyler have a raw, probing quality. But the interview (also by Christensen) lacks depth.

Full-page photographs and Face-style illustrations of female models form the bulk of its pages, the exact same formula employed by sister publication Bikini, aimed at the boys.

The premier issue is full of the kind of ultra-trendy “it” people beloved by US style mags – there’s an interview with the Beastie Boys about their penchant for uniforms, Sofia Coppola talks about living in her father’s shadow, and Damon Albarn is featured. Nylon is not the kind of visual feast that Ray Gun can be – the design is more understated – but still far more daring than any of its competitors in the women’s magazine market.

When you do find the sparse editorial copy, it is sadly lacking in interest, despite tackling aliens and Vedic astrology for subject matter. Some of the vernacular grates pretty quickly – according to the horoscope this quarter, for example, Pisces is “all upbeat and shit”. Unlike Ray Gun, neither music or books get the treatment: Asian Elements, an interior design book is reviewed flatly and an interview with Manhattan product designer Karim Rashid produces little in the way of interest.

Christensen’s talk of breaking down stereotypes, not peddling emaciated models but reaching the minds of young women could be in vain if she remains purely a figurehead. She has the clout to have a much bigger impact on Nylon, and its future could be down to her enthusiasm, whether she knows it or not.

Nylon launches this month, price 2.25.

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