Magazine Review: GQ November 2007

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It is a common misconception — and Ac.Stet’s sorry you have to hear it from him — but GQ is not a fashion magazine.

Oh, but there is nothing wrong with that in the same way that you would rightfully point out to Ac.Stet that the tomato is not really a vegetable, and Panama hats aren’t really from Panama.

But Ac.Stet feels impelled to pick it up for a review — as he did previously with Details, Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire — for many reasons:

1) Ryan Gosling is on the cover.
2) Ryan Gosling is on the cover with a beard
3) Ryan Gosling is on the cover with a beard, wearing pin-stripes
4) Ryan Gosling is on the cover with a beard, wearing pinstripes, in a good interview by writer Alex Pappademas.
5) Ryan Gosling is on the cover with a beard, wearing pinstripes, in a good interview by writer Alex Pappademas, who peppered the story with references to Jim Morrison and The Doors.
6) Ryan Gosling is on the cover with a beard, wearing pinstripes, in a good interview by writer Alex Pappademas, who peppered the story with references to Jim Morrison and The Doors, and said-story precedes another by Charles Bowden on the artist Fernando Botero, which is as beautifully and sensitively written as Ryan Gosling is sensitively beautiful.
7) Ryan Gosling is …
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See the power of a cover? Everything good, or bad, in a magazine begins from there. Surely, what’s good for the Gosling’s good for the ‘genda ?

November’s GQ do hold great things but only if you understand that the old soul within coverboy-coverman-boyman-youngman-oldboy-(oh-boy!) Ryan Gosling’s babyface is a hidden metaphor.

You see, GQ’s insides are largely devoted to making you forget Mr. Gosling’s youthful titan outside and to remember the senior titans in masculine pol-and-pop-culture: Godfather’s Francis Ford Coppola (68), American Gangster’s Denzel Washington (53), Fernando Botero (75), Jerry Seinfeld (53) and John McCain (71).

There is a minor disappointment – one that GQ likes to practice in its anniversary issues – the reprints of GQ articles culled from the past 50 years. Rightfully, GQ can have repeats of favorites, maybe because they feel, hey, since you like it so much, you should have it again.

On Page 66, GQ re-published food critic Alan Richman’s 1994 recollection of his culinary adventures in Vietnam. National Magazine Award-winning though it may be in 1994, it is boring by today’s literary standards: it has no war moral lesson, even fewer gastronomic reference, and to cap it off, the story is not even complete. In fact, you have to log onto the GQ website “to read the rest of the article …”

You may say this is a symptom of nostalgia. But some things are good only once. In Cooking, we call this a re-hash, so we don’t waste last night’s jambalaya. In Television, we call it a re-run, so cheap programming can fill in-between cheaper tiers for advertisers on a budget. But in Publishing? A re-print of a story with a decade-old award, doesn’t make it a re-ward.

Look, with any name, the motive of “repeating” is the same: Faves on a cheap, so everyone – producers and consumers – is happy. But to repackage old stories at 1994 costs and then serve them back to you at 2007 inflationary prices, GQ must think its readers are a dumb-assed generation of men too hazed in their Derek Jeter Driven fragrances to realize this.

But like Ac.Stet says, the decision for re-prints was a minor disappointment.

Thankfully, GQ redeemed itself with good fashion pages.

What strikes Ac.Stet this month is how close GQ approximates towards Clothedom this month in the regular diary item “Every Shirt Tells A Story” on Pg 80.

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Subject Mordechai wears a look that he hates with a passion. Why, what a lovely exemplification of Clothedom! A manifestation of clothedom is that clothes are things that are alive, like friends and loved ones. And in tandem, clothedom clothes are not plastic. Like a dear friend, you don’t always like them, but you love them most of the time. Ac.Stet has a rather regal whipsnake leather jacket from Versace which he really loves or that gold-pinned serpent vest but there are times he puts it on and parties and has moments like, What the fuck is this snake doing dying on my shoulders? It’s the same kind of self-consciousness that negotiates between you wearing it and then you imagining yourself seeing yourself wear it. It is a feeling – sometimes fleeting – that mutates from self-awareness into situational awareness and which we – like Mordechai here – disguises into a kind of persistent griping just so to distance yourself from it. After all, as a Clothedom-practitioners, we never take ourselves that seriously as to not be able to internalize all the sentiments a great fashion look can generate.

Are you lost? Ac.Stet thought you may be … but good magazines like GQ do provoke inner articulations like these – if you do love fashion deep enough to think about it – and Ac.Stet encourages you to listen to them and indulge in them as much as you want to.

On the same page, essentially how wicked is this GQ suggestion in “The Look: These Buds Are Made For You”?:

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The transhumanist in Ac.Stet only has two words to say: Technology blossoms.

Further on, there is a personality in such an esoteric discipline, that his name really shouldn’t be popping up as regularly as his does: Frederic Malle. Remember his ubiquity in T The New York Times Style Magazine? On Pg 102, GQ gives him a full-page drill on his recipe for style. It is written in a Fill-In-The-Blanks style, which is a variant of the Q&A interview format, which makes both writing it and reading it breezy.

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But like all deceptively simple things, the Q&A format of interviewing is often over-exploited and misunderstood. This format is best employed when you have a really interesting person to interview (which in this case, Mr. Malle is) and he has a unique way of phrasing his words and the laissez-faire style of Q&A practically allows him to retain his style and tell his story. But the problem with the Q&A format, as any seasoned magazine editor would tell you, is that if you are not a good interviewer, and you master no control over the session, the A in Q&A becomes gibberish. Read this from the Frederic Malle Q&A and you will see what Ac.Stet means:

Q: What exactly it is I do.
A: “I enslave noses. Perfumers historically don’t work on their own to make a fragrance. It can take a year, actually. So if you do that alone, you go completely buts. My job is to look after the perfumers. I’m like a publisher of fragrances.”

Look, which part of “exactly” do you not understand? What does “enslave noses” mean? What does “publishing” fragrances mean, exactly? Me-guess the writer Adam Sachs just let it slip by, like the whiff of a forgettable cheap perfume.

Another gripe on Page 64 when Tom Ford is asked what he feels is The Best Piece of Clothing of the Past 50 Years. Mr. Ford says: “The Blazer. It will always be iconic…”

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Ac.Stet just creeps out whenever the word “iconic” is being thrown around, like a discarded panty in a frat-house party: overly-familiar, much-abused, but mostly used in inappropriate ways.

The Versace safety-pin dress Liz Hurley wore to a film premiere is iconic. The swan dress Bjork wore to the 2001 Oscars is iconic. The Chanel suit Mr. Ford later exemplifies with is iconic. The costume jewellery Iris Apfel drowns herself in is iconic. A singular style, a signature look is iconic. A blazer, as a type of clothing, is not iconic. What Mr. Ford must mean to say, is that a blazer is a staple, a classic, or is timeless. Ac.Stet only wished the subs and copy-editors at GQ would have picked up on that.

Flipping on, you realize one problem that arises whenever fashion magazines try to do features on fashion on the cheap – by the way, to aspire towards Clothedom, never expect things to come cheap – is that, they usually come off, well, cheap.

This November, GQ falls uncharacteristically into this pothole. In its “Style At Any Price” section, it recruits Foo Fighter Dave Grohl to model clothes from Cheap Monday, Target and Macy’s I.N.C. in a spread titled, well, “Cheap Tricks”. As if it felt it has not nailed in the credit-on-a-diet message, the start-page looks like a puerile Mastercard commercial targeted at kids:

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And later, in the same section on Pg 234, GQ puts hardly-clotheshorse-material actor Chiwetel Ejiofor in an ill-styled spread titled “Glam Slams”. Does anyone smell Domino’s Pizza?:

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Has it finally happened? Has the GQ graphics department and their signature acid-colored geometry finally backfired this time? Alors, look at the fashion photography on Pg 258 titled “New Rio”. It is beautiful, but there is nagging urge in Ac.Stet’s line of vision to read the “New Rio” header as “NERO”, that devil of a ruler who is destined to bring the world as we know it to an untimely demise:

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It sure doesn’t help that right from the get-go in “God is Green”, Editor-in-chief Jim Nelson primed Ac.Stet in his Editor’s Letter with a preamble on how a green crusade is spearheaded by Nero’s spiritual opposite: The Pope.

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Oh, and the NEw RiO fashion imagery do bring to mind something John the Apostle said in Rev. 13:11-14,16-18 “… [the beast] also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark”:

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Ah, but this is madness, you say. But if it is, then it is a kind of glorified dementia … a descent into the kind of madness once poetically translated in Beautiful Mind, where every image supplant a visual code.

But such is the poison of Clothedom.

You master it to free yourself from the visual codes of fashion. And then you never see your examined life the same way again.

Would you take the Red Pill, or the Blue?

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Or has your mass-market style guide already chosen for you?:

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~ by acrylicstetson on October 31, 2007.

3 Responses to “Magazine Review: GQ November 2007”

  1. third to last picture with the guy drawing the heart…what is the name of the girl?

  2. aurgh, youre so annoying.
    does anyone read this

  3. I do.

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