Mags: Cleo hits her stride

Glossy Review

As the Cleo crew and a bevvy of beautiful Sydney identities ogle hot men judge the Cleo Bachelor of the Year Awards today (follow the updates on Twitter with 4000-odd other peeps!), I thought I'd sneak a peek at the February 'Tigerlily issue', which represents the second edition in the glossy's lineup of designer collaborations. But don't be fooled by her fashiony inclinations: there are gutsy reads, gorgeous images and creative concepts to keep your eyes (and brain) amused. By all appearances, five issues into her new look, Cleo has officially hit her self-confident stride.

So, we know the cover shot of Kate Hudson (2009's top Aussie cover girl) by Cliff Watts is from the same set of studio images that gave us covers for the March 2009 edition of Harper's BAZAAR Australia and the January 2009 edition of British Harper's BAZAAR (glossies like to swap stock shots like sisters swap clothes), and we are also a little bit over the structured shoulder trend, but the hot, summery font shades against the white background lend the cover a striking edge that's hard to ignore on the newsstand... if only it weren't obscured by the hideous plastic bagging of a beach dress. Grr. Speaking of "grr", that's exactly what Hudson is saying with her eyes and mouth. Perhaps she is having a "Telepathic Orgasm" as she thinks about "Kinky Sex"? Or maybe she is just hungry.

The good bits:
- While 16-year-old Hollywood paparazzo Austin Visschedyk kind of gives me the creeps, the little guy comes across as likable. I had to laugh at this quote: "I'm treated differently to other paparazzi. I'm cute and cuddly - I'm not a 40-year-old pervert looking person."And he seems to have good morals: "If I took a photo of a star doing something bad, or a pic that would hurt them, I'd delete it." We can learn so much from the youth of today.

- Cleo is owning talent from the blogosphere. This issue, style bloggers lovemaegan, phosphenefashion and psimadethis put their DIY skills to the test. There's also a photographic spread based on; 'Home, Sweet, Home' with blogger Kirsten Grove (; 'City Slickers' featuring Aussie street-style snappers; and 'Our parents were awesome', a Frankie-flavoured pictorial spread drawing on vintage photo blogs, like, and Thanks for the fresh new linkage, Cleo!

- Kate Hudson is owning smiley roles: "I feel as though, when I'm 40, I'll have plenty of time to play the depressed housewife."

- Tania Gomez celebrates women of the cerebral kind in 'Is smart the new sexy?', a three-page feature accompanied by stacks of Penguin books (cute). "Smart is becoming the new sexy because our society has well and truly outgrown its own time-honored gender stereotypes," says cultural studies scholar Maja Mikula. "We are surrounded by astute, intelligent women." That's a comforting thought.

- Bec Whish imparts 'Retro Life Advice' gleaned from clinical psychologist and Mad Men fan Muriel Cooper, under sub-heads including 'maintain your independence', 'accentuate the positive', 'stay cool under pressure', 'rise above office politics' and 'present yourself well'.

- Carla Caruso investigates the world of food blogging, where 'foodgasms' and 'food hangovers' are all in a day's work and bleeding bank accounts and bulging waistlines are hazards of the job. There's gentle advice from an addiction specialist on passions turning unhealthy. I really enjoyed this piece.

- 'Fashion Heavyweights For 2010' is an ironic headline for a feature full of skinny people. The list includes Kate Lanphear, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Dree Hemingway, Phoebe Philo, Tommy Ton, Olivier Zahm, Tavi Gevinson, Scott Schuman and Garance Dore. Love the layout.

- 'Is staying in the new going out?' asks Rachel Hills. When even Paris Hilton is over the party scene, the Zeitgeist has shifted. "Nanna" girls are the new socialites.

- In 'Self-help or self-harm?' Sarah Ayoub investigates whether self-help courses can undermine your health. Ayoub launches with the story of 34-year-old PA Rebekah Lawrence, who committed suicide after attending a Turning Point seminar, and asks if it's right that the industry – which plays on women's emotional needs – is self-regulated, with many unqualified life coaches practising. Advice - seek out a mental health professional.

- Chloe Sevigny = stunning in hot pink lips shot by Kenneth Cappello. J'adore this feature! Why isn't she on the COVER????!!!!

- 'Moving in... with your parents' asks if doing it the second time 'round can work; 'We're so vain' asks if we're the "maintenance generation" and includes a bunch of helpful self-talk tips for the image conscious.

- Four pages of screen-grabs and celebrity quotes make up 'The film that changed my life.' Simple and effective... make way, I'm off to the video shop!

- Candice Chung asks, 'Do we all have to be success stories?'. Chung relates her personal story of falling short of typical life success measures, explores the plethora of anxiety-inducing choices on offer to us, and rounds out by redefining success. There's a helpful checklist for personal contentment, too.

- David Smiedt writes 'Fling or forever?', giving us insight into the male dating psyche: are you a 'current distraction' (aka "mattress buddy") or 'something more'? He uses chivalrous phrases like, "given the chance, of course he'll do you", to help you on your path to relationship enlightenment. There are some gems here ("nothing brands a woman as 'fling' quicker than her propensity to apologise for everything"; "the most resilient partnerships are those that are strengthened by conflict"; "continue to be the well-rounded, evolved person he fell in love with").

- Popular columnist Nicole Daboul reflects on her year of dating in 'Great expectations'. She hasn't found love yet, which reflects love's ability to be more "happy accident" than "result of writing dating column". She ends on a cuddly, hopeful note: "I wouldn't mind if love could just bowl me over, and maybe make my head spin." Next to Daboul's column is a page of marriage proposal stories.

- I always enjoy Kathryn Eisman's columns. This month she writes about after-dark attire, referencing "Susan Boyle when she snuggles with her Kitty Pebbles".

- Bec Whish has some firm words for "perspiration monsters who don't wipe up" and other gym offenders in 'Cleo's Guide to Sweatiquette'.

- '10 Lifestyle Tweaks' is just the treat for a little uplift on a flat day (or life). Cleo helps us sensibly curb junk-food addiction a page over, then tells us why we're so tired (sleep deprivation, lack of fitness, malnutrition, medical issues) and shows us what the perfect lunch looks like (a whole lot of yum). 'Why do I eat when I'm not hungry?' talks about emotional eating triggers (stress, boredom, unhappiness, tiredness) and gives us tricks to nip the habit in the bud. The mag then lets us off the goodie-goodie health hook with 'Indulgence that's actually good for you'.

- Meet three "chicks who surf" for Rip Curl in 'Hang Ten', then visit Queensland with Nicole Elphick via 'Endless Summer' (after considering the Virgin Blue Holidays 'summer stays' page 181) and test out a bike, Agyness-style, on page 192.

- The 'Radar: pop culture and prettiness for your viewing pleasure' section opens with a fun image of the Vampire Weeekend boys. I love this section with its slick design, nuggets of pop culture news and book, album and movie reviews.

The not-so-good (oopsie!) bits:

- 'Forever 21: how to hit the pause button on getting old (saggy bits scare us)'. Noooooo! 1. You couldn't pay me to be 21 forever. 2. Let's start embracing ageing from a young age!

- You know one of my pet women's mag hates? Giving space to shitty men. See: 'Is this guy for real?', a Q&A with blogger Arthur Kade (who rates women on a scale of 10 - "hot" is a 7 and up). Ignore that link!

- 'Are you dating your dad?' writes John Bastick, who reminds us that "men's brains are wired to thinking that younger, prettier females are more conducive to childbearing" before launching into talk of Absent Father Syndrome. Depressing.

- A little ditty about marriage truths by yours truly made it into this issue – am officially the poster-girl for Poo-Pooing Marriage (thank you, confessional blog post) – eek! Thankfully, Husband got a laugh out of it (no divorce papers yet) and a couple of to-be-weds reportedly have, too. This is shameless publicity spiel dressed up as "oopsie bits".

- The Beginner's Guide to Bondage, including breakout box titled 'What tools do I need?'.

Pretty pages:

- On the second-page 'Tigerlily Issue' opener featuring model Alexandra (@Chic) we are told that the issue has been "created with love by Tigerlily designers Amelia Stanley and Jodhi Meares, and the Cleo team."

- The angelic face of Australian music video director Kinga Burza, 29, opens the 'What's Now' section. Cleo loves a pretty cool girl with connections and this one is passionate about her craft. The opener is followed by a one-page interview.

- Adore the layout for Tigerlily designer Amelia Stanley's 'What I bought' page.

- A snap of front-row fashionistas, including red-lipped "marketing mogul" Jen Brill, open 'In Store'. A very cool image. In fact, the In Store section, chock-full with still-life items, is generally just cool – particularly the 'Shady Ladies' sunglasses layout.

- Swimwear meets streewear in 'Like a tiger'. Love that all the gear isn't Tigerlily, though the range does form the basis for the shoot.

- Model Zippora Seven (who rose to fame via RUSSH and featured in Vogue Australia's December 2008 issue) is the 'Face of the month'. Beautiful image shot by Olivia Hemus for Ruby Boutique.

- 'On Counter: Passion Pop' is an impactful beauty page with a Warhol feel. I also appreciated 'Matt Factor: five ways to minimise a shiny face'; 'Beauty Icon: Zooey Deschanel' (adorable, always); and will consider investing in All About The Glo's Loose Bronzing Powder ($29.95 at Priceline) to get Kate Hudson's chiseled cover look. Priceline is also sponsoring Cleo's 'Make Me A Makeup Artist' competition.

- 'Tight Rope' features a smoky-eyed model in dancewear (think leggings, grey marle tees, tights, leg-warmers, Flashdance tees...). Love this.

- 'Into the blue' is a hazily-lit, scrap-book style denim spread that wouldn't look uncomfortable in RUSSH.

- 'Nine to Five' gives us 10 new looks for the office – neutrals and a little leopard print appear to be the way to go. Like a SHOP Til You Drop spread, it finishes with a page of still-life accessories.

- Gerard Butler in a suit, page 145 'Love & Lust'. Hubba hubba.

- Make 'Forever Yours' cupcakes, page 186, and "text up your living space with some typography-inspired pieces" (page 188).

- Kermit the Frog! 'The Grass is Always Greener' on page 190.

Glossy posse: If Cleo was a school, only cool girls would be enrolled. Kate Hudson, Kinga Burza, Austin Visschedyk, Peaches Geldof, Pip Edwards, Kristen Bell...

Blosses: Sarah Oakes; ACP Magazines
Glossy stats: February 2010; 212 pages; $8.95 with a Seduce beach dress.
Glossy ads: Pandora, Covergirl, Clinique, Herbal Essence, asics, Pepe Jeans...
Glossy rating: 4 - Yes... skim at your leisure then lend to a friend.

* Note: GWAS is a Cleo contributor on occasion. And congratulations to art director Liz, who is newly engaged!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


5ft0 said...

Love the new direction of Cleo! After a decade or so with Cosmo and Cleo looking really similar, now I can see the difference between the two magazines - even though they're aimed at the same target audience.

Kudos to the Cleo team =)

Kimberley said...

I agree, Cleo has successfully revamped and has created a fabulous, fresh new feel to the publication. I've never had a magazine subscription before, but after the 3rd issue in its new fab form, I knew I wanted it every month.
Also love the attention this issue gave to blogs - I much prefer reading blogs to magazines as they are a great source of inspiration, have unedited content and let you into the lives of real people.
Love your work GWAS! x

jess said...

It certainly does look like a good issue, but once again the plastic is such a deterrent, even though it's meant to have the opposite effect. But a magazine with a picture of stacked macaroons and cake is sure to get my attention (not that I'd see it if not for your scans, Erica!).

And I love the new art direction. Clean, cute, funky, modern.

Joanne said...

I also absolutely love and totally appreciate the new direction that Cleo has taken, it's so refreshing, you can REALLY notice the difference and pretty much every page is beautiful. I love love loved this issue!!

The colour palette on the cover was awesome, but I'm so over seeing recycled shots of the same celebrities, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Britney Spears...sooooo not interesting anymore. Bring on Jessica Hart!!
Although it's hard to pick, my fav parts were 'city slickers', 'this is what a perfect lunch looks like' and 'nine to five', in fact all the fashion in this issue was fantastic. Erica's article on marriage was very honest, and hopefully Nicole Daboul keeps writing a monthly collumn.

I agree with Erica, the comment 'saggy bits scare us' was a bit shallow...but overall most fabulous issue yet!

PS. Arthur Kade makes me want to vomit like right now...what an absolute wally :)

Cathryn said...

Hmm, I think I might actually go out and buy this issue, and I haven't bought Cleo since forever.

B said...

I might be wrong, but did this issue come with a free maxi dress? Would really appreciate a pic & comment on the on-size-fits-all aspect?


Anonymous said...

In regards to the foodblogger article that you liked, chocolate suze who was featured in it has an interesting reaction over at her blog.

Joanne said...

B, the maxi dress is really comfy im wearing it right now, my boyfriend also commented on how much he liked and didn't know that it was a freebie. I think I might dress it up with some oversized accesories and wear it out to lunch!!
Im a size 8 and its quite baggy on me, I think it would be good if you were a 10 but might cling if you were a 12. The rouching on the top makes your bust look biggger!! Hope this helps :)

B said...

Thanks Joanne. I ended up grabbing one anyway. It's quite good for a freebie, but a shame that it's made from polyester.

I've only had a flick through the mag, as I'm saving it for the long weekend, but it looks so much more positive than Cosmo. The last Cosmo left me feeling angry, as it really does try to lead you to feel you're not "normal" unless you have an out-there sex life, brazillian wax and awesome abs. I'm comfortable with my life, but when I think that Cosmo seems to mainly be read by high school girls it pisses me off.

Fashion Hayley said...

Why no link to the street style blogs? The photo of the girl on the bike is by me and is from xoxoxo

Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) said...

Sorry, Hayley - time is often of the essence and the HTMLing can be draining. Street style bloggers, please feel free to leave your links below-the-line!