"There are rumours doing the rounds that I get up at 4am to do this job. Well, honestly, I mean it's just not true. 4am is when I go to bed."
There are 36 full-time editorial staff working to bring us Grazia each week under the guidance of workaholic (and mum) Veness-McGourty, in addition to seven contributors/correspondents, 14 advertising staff, two production staff and the highly paid suits at ACP/PBL, Hearst and Mondadori Magazines who oversee the whole shebang. For the sake of all this talent, and the sheer passion of McGourty and her hard-working team, I hope the magazine's high-end style of fashion/celebrity/gloss, mixed with NW-style goss and, of course, Kate Moss, resonates with the Australian magazine buyer (and, of course, advertisers whose budgets are, no doubt, a little trimmer this financial year).
Journey with me as I flick from front to back...
- High-end labels Louis Vuitton (super-shiny gatefold: show offs) and Prada lure us into the glossy world of Grazia. Clearly, this is a magazine for the career girl/fashionista/supermum who buys Harper's BAZAAR or Vogue and is looking for a weekly dose of similar content to satiate her desire for the new, celebrity gossip (in chic surroundings) and inspiration for hitting the shops (like she needs another excuse!).
- Zac Posen poses with models backstage on the Contents page, which is followed by beauty ads for L'Oreal's Infallible Lip Duo Compact, Elizabeth Arden, Clinique (love the pretty ad for Nude Blush) and Rimmel London (featuring... Kate Moss! Total number of Mossy pics inside this issue: 6).
- In her editor's letter, AVM tells us what her magazine is all about: "It's about being gorgeous, glamorous, it's about gosh!! It's about a rip-roaring stellar (Stella...) read that hopefully with enthral you and appal you with its intensity... we may be in the grip of a recession, but we will walk through it together, from the cheap and chic, clever and canny buys to the most expensive purchases... I want Grazia to be a must-read for all your news and your shoes, to give you celebrity with integrity and glamour; plus the very best mix of fashion and beauty... like a good book you can't put down."
- 'The Week in 10' presents us with 10 covetable fashion items, which is totally boring, though I like the inclusion of art editor Sarah Birnbauer's 'must list' (YSL bag, Luella top, Lee jeans) and can see it serves a purpose. I think they can do better.
- Next up is fashion features director Edwina McCann's 'Shoes with news!' column, where she tells us she's ditching her all-black uniform in favour of colour, inspired by Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned. A small tribute to Marcs designer Mark Keighery also.
- The four-page cover story 'Why Kate won't change for anyone' is really just an excuse for us to check out Mossy in a bikini, with those ubiquitous on-the-yacht holiday shots padded out with a story about her breakup with Jamie Hince, her apparent reluctance to settle down and her BFF Davinia Taylor.
- Other features include 'Elle: 'Love is imperative', three-pages on the supermodel in light of Arki's relationship with Uma ("I've got a fabulous life. I am in a fantastic space and I feel confident and blessed." Not even just a little peeved?) and 'Madonna's brother speaks exclusively to Grazia'. I'm so over looking at/hearing about Madonna that I skip over it and while I like to look at pretty pictures of Elle, I don't care for reading about her (can't relate on any level – and she always comes across as kind of aloof).
- Jodhi Meares, holding a very large eagle, is given three pages to explain why she opted out of hosting the Next Top Model final (we're not given anything really new to munch on – we know she's not an entertainer and loathes the spotlight). She's a pretty bland subject, though, for some reason she appeals to me.
- The first serious feature is 'Zimbabwe: Will life ever be normal again?' a first-person account by Cathy Buckle of life under Robert Mugabe's regime.
- 'Grazia: This Just In' is next, written by Edwina McCann, who is glad she's not Angelina Jolie this week (McCann also has twins) and says if Angelina starts to look emaciated soon it's because of the double workload (no mention of her entourage of carers).
- Grazia Exclusive: 'Like, totally epic' is two pages devoted to the Australia costume wardrobe. Yawn.
- 'Confessions of a celebrity stylist' is a first-person piece by Erin Vincent, who went to LA to fulfill a dream and got a fill of celebrity crap (many actors are "spoilt, demanding and just plain tiresome", can you believe?). Revealing comments about J.Lo and Gisele and a revelation that the American dream ain't all it's cracked up to be. Good read.
- Tabloid fodder comes via 'I begged them to make him stop', another first-person piece; this time by midwife Robin Moon who worked alongside 'butcher' obstetrician Graeme Reeves.
- Nivea has gone to town with a six-page ad spread.
- Aussie model Alexandra Agostan pens 'The Princess Diaries', giving us her account of modelling for Dior.
- 'Cult blogger' Ugly Debty (current total debt $131,373.87) gets some publicity with her as-told-to contribution 'In the red! I blew $130k on Jimmy Choos'. She's kept her debt a secret from her family and friends and banker husband (the ultimate deception!) and instead is blogging her way back into the black. Handy hints on reducing debt are included. She makes me feel positively saintly.
- We enter the fashion section via ads for Covergirl, Just Jeans and Diet Coke and a giant still-life picture of a Brit-inspired Chanel handbag. This is followed by two pages of artfully displayed pumps, a full-page picture of Nicole Richie in ballet flats, a page of ballet flats, a page in tribute to a pair of $2070 Louis Vuitton pumps, a rather uninspiring picture of Kate Moss toting a Mulberry Smithfield bag accompanied by seven similar black bags for us to choose from, a page of metallic bags, a page of totes in shades of yellow, tan and burnt orange, a page devoted to Prada's lace bags and a page of purses.
- We then get 'Tagged & bagged!', a page breaking down the outfit details of a celebrity (Jennifer Hawkins in Dior this week), 'Style Dash', a single outfit idea, 'G!Rated', fashion director Mark Vassallo's nod to printed dresses available at Myer, 'Quick Fix', another single outfit idea, a page promoting grazia.com.au and a three page ad for Dotti (Target and Wheels & Dollbaby also have pages attached to the section).
- The first fashion spread, 'It's only rock & roll', runs over 12 pages and features model Louise Van de Vorst, Daniel Johns' girlfriend (way to get some work by association!), who vamps it up in leopard print, fishnet tights, skinny jeans, feathers, fluoro heels, red lipstick and a lot of bling.
- The second shoot, 'Under the influence', is decidedly more demure (in contrast to the headline), which references Yves Saint Laurent's major collections. Very clever.
- Sportsgirl gets a two-page promotion (there's a Grazia Fashion Cupboard in select stores). Avon's up next (two pages) and O.P.I's ad leads into beauty and health director Lucinda Pitt's column on her age awakening.
- 'The new rules' is a four-page beauty feature (three hot looks to love this season – berry lips, golden eyes, satiny skin) with backstage shots, instructions and product suggestions; 'G!Rated' is Lucinda Pitt's pick of smoky eye makeup buys; 'The best beauty advice you'll ever get' is two pages of insider knowledge, again by Lucinda, which gives us the 411 on finding expert colourists, manicurists and facialists; and 'One wonderful find' is Giorgio Armani's Designer Modelling Compact Foundation ($94).
- The health feature is 'Busting the health myths!', which tackles 10 myths, such as 'you should stretch before you exercise' to 'wearing glasses makes your eyesight worse', which I found to be informative (lots of expert quotes) – possibly the best value feature so far.
- 'My name's Wendy and I'm a drunkorexic' is about a binge drinker who skips meals (get drunk and forget you're hungry!). Deeply disturbing, though I'm not one to judge women's unusual eating habits (I have a few of my own quirks!). A stark warning about getting into the weighing yourself game: "Now I weigh myself every morning. If I put on a few kilos I'm disappointed, but it soon comes off if I'm on a 'drinking, no food' day." Sadly, for many women, the mission is weight loss, not health, so our bodies suffer – the long-term health implications rarely get a look-in. Food for thought.
- In stark contrast, Matthew Evans' 'Out of the pantry' food column, in which he recounts 'five days in the life of the ultimate foodie', gives us reasons to be excited about eating. His writing is (for want of a better word) yummy. On his preparation of Granny Smith apples: "I core them from the top using a melon-baller... crack a few of autumn's walnuts... I push chunks of them into the apples' holes, add a dot of butter, then pile as much brown sugar on top as the apple will hold. What cascades to the tray mingles with juice from the apple and the occasional dribble of butter." Hungry yet? Evans also shares my love of Sirena Tuna in Oil, so now I admire him even more (foodie crush!). Possibly by favourite page so far. And it's followed by an ad for my chocolate of choice – Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate.
- The 'Well Travelled' page gives us five destinations to consider for cocktail hour, while 'My French Love Affair' is Collette Dinnigan's gastronomic/accommodation/spa recommendations written in 'Dear Grazia' letter format.
- 'Grazia Girls OS' is two pages of columns from the magazine's London and New York correspondents, Aussies Elizabeth Colman and Anna Johnson respectively. I enjoyed the escapism and visual pictures both writers painted. Good read.
- Catherine Martin (costume designer) gets five pages to take us through the opulent home she shares with husband Baz Luhrmann.
- 'See Watch Do' is a page of entertainment bits (two short film reviews; a festival to attend; and single TV, book, album, art and music reviews). This is followed by a two-page feature on The Dark Knight.
- 'Meet the BrIT Girls' is up next, which profiles the "new wave of brash young things who have taken over the clubs, A-list parties – and the headlines." The roll call includes Pixie Geldof, Peaches Geldof, Daisy Lowe, Agyness Deyn, Nathalie Press, Ben Grimes-Viort, Alice Dellal, Alexa Chung and Jaime Winstone.
- Promo pages and star signs round out the issue, with 'Oh goodie!' the last page ("each week we're giving away a stunning It bag jam-packed with luxe goodies!"), followed by an ad for Portmans and the Estee Lauder back cover.
Grazia is essentially a blending of Shop Til You Drop, WHO weekly, Famous, OK!, the newspaper supplements (like Sunday magazine and Body & Soul) that I adore, and, perhaps, UK ELLE or Australia's own Harper's BAZAAR. As a committed magazine buyer/blogger, I'll be sticking with it for as long as my budget allows. Though I'm not overly excited by this debut issue, it definitely has the potential to be a weekly must-read.
At the moment, it seems to be servicing advertisers as much as wooing readers, which I don't think is safe. I'm in awe of the amazing team that has been pulled together to put the magazine out – some of Australia's best writing and styling talent – but the magazine seems to be lacking spark. Is it humour? Wit? Too many bland features? Too many sparse still-life pages? Too many first-person columns? Is it taking itself too seriously? Is it trying to be all things when all it really wants to do is go shopping and find a new lipstick?
I love the idea of a weekly magazine devoted entirely to the materialistic pastime of shopping and improving one's makeup bag and wardrobe, alongside some meaty features and celebrity gossip (a la Marie Claire), yet I'm left wanting. Quite simply, it doesn't inspire me to shop.
You know what I'd like to see? I never thought I'd say this, but more celebrity pictures (with accompanying still-life and/or style suggestions) – but this is, perhaps, because that's what I've come to expect from a weekly. I'd also love more bitsy/scrapbooky trend compilation pages, insider interviews (I'm a sucker for features where we get invited into the wardrobe of a chic woman), street style pictures (surely Sydney is fertile photography ground, in addition to NYC, Paris London and Rome), a page (or several) of chain-store must-haves (perhaps there could be three levels of must-haves: chain-store, designer, high-end designer), workwear suggestions/lunch-time buys (like UK ELLE), beauty looks to try for the week and fashion/shopping news, in addition to some escapism via the travel section express.
Overall excitement factor: 6
Feel-good factor: 4/5
Eye-candy rating: 3/4
Kudos to the team and looking forward to watching the Grazia evolution!
Girl With a Satchel