Publisher Condé Nast has made a ‘faux pas’ with the cover of its much-anticipated bi-annual style title Love, editorial design experts say.
Love launches today and its cover, which features The Gossip lead singer Beth Ditto naked, has been branded ‘unoriginal’ by the industry, with comparisons being drawn to NME’s cover in June 2007, which also featured a naked Ditto.
Jeremy Leslie, executive creative director of publisher John Brown, says, ‘Ditto had her moment a couple of years ago and, given the NME did it already, I can’t believe that, in the closed world of fashion, Condé Nast didn’t realise. It’s a strange faux pas to make on your launch.’
Graphic and print designer Mike Dempsey, founder of Studio Dempsey and Master of the Royal Designers for Industry, says, ‘The Love cover smacks of desperation in an already overcrowded magazine world. If this is how they intend to carry on, I give it six issues.’
Leslie adds, ‘There’s been a lot of fuss about this, but it is a beautiful cover, in terms of colour, style and mood. You have to remember this is Condé Nast.’
Despite a general unwelcome among editorial designers, founder of Australian consultancy Frost, and designer of the Saturday Independent Magazine in the 1990s Vince Frost applauds the new title’s design.
‘I think it is spot on. The masthead and title are brilliant. It’s not new but a fusion of traditional values with strong evocative graphics. A fat star who’s proud to be naked – no Demi Moore. This season’s turquoise background holding everything together with love. I haven’t seen the inside. But I want to. That’s what a good cover should do,’ he says.
Leslie explains that the magazine makes commercial sense for its publisher, despite scepticism surrounding its high production values in the current economic climate.
‘The back story to all of this is that the same team was doing [fashion magazine] Pop, and that made a fortune in advertising for its publisher. Every major brand will have to be seen to be in [Love] – at least for the first few editions. It’s the party to be at. It’s a cash cow, and, given Condé Nast’s advertising power in the world of fashion, it’s a welcome addition to its portfolio. It’s a natural extension,’ he says.
Dempsey suggests the magazine is simply an ‘upmarket’ celebrity title. He says, ‘It’s trying to be an upmarket Heat. It’s got all the people that you get in Grazia or Heat – you can tell just by looking at the cover.’
He adds, ‘Whether there’s room or not in the marketplace, I don’t know. If you look around Borders, there are many that slot into fashion so much better. This is trying to find a niche between celebrity and fashion that maybe doesn’t exist.’
The ‘edgy and experimental’ title is produced in a bespoke size, slightly larger than most monthlies, and is aimed at ‘ardent lovers of fashion, style and popular culture the world over’, according to a Condé Nast spokeswoman.
Love editor Katie Grand is working with creative directors Lee Swillingham and Stuart Spalding, who she previously worked with at Pop.
Swillingham and Spalding founded design practice Suburbia, which is based in London and New York, in 2000.
The consultancy provides creative direction, design and branding services for international clients including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Luella, Dior, Tod’s, Anna Molinari and Hogan.