Sometimes I wonder if I have an illuminated arrow over my head, the kind that is highlighted by neon lightbulbs, if I did mine would say ‘Please, give me any kind of leaflet, free magazine, travel guide or newspaper, because not only do I love carrying a handbag around with me that weighs more than my body weight by the time I get home but i simply can’t say no to the puppy dog eyes of people trying to give me things’. On this occasion, I was exiting through the portculis at Somerset house, absolutely exhausted and desperate for my bed, when a large brute of a woman threw herself in my path ‘FREE MAGAZINE MADAM?’ she bellowed eyeing me up and down; actually what came first before the woman was a rather beefy speckled arm clutching a newspaper appearing out of thin air just as I was about to walk through the doorway, nearly slapping me right in the forehead with said newspaper – a pretty good tactic to have a type of woman who you wouldn’t want to mess with handing out your magazines, people like me take them in fear. Oh here we go, another travel guide on London’s best pigeon spotting locations – perhaps I should start a new venture and do a swapsie style challenge of what free magazines people get given, much like the ‘Pokemon’ craze that swept the nation a few years ago, only this time people would be scrumming over ‘The essential guide the St.James’s Park and Buckingham Palace’. Now I know how the Billy goats gruff felt after that little troll encounter; ‘Um, okay yeah, thankyou’ ‘ ENJOY YOUR REEEEEEEAD’ she squarked as I took the broadsheet sized paper, thinking it would go straight into the first bin that I passed or maybe I’d take it home and leave it lying around for a few days before putting it out with the recycling to feel a little less guilty.
Instead, later that evening on the draining tube journey home from Holburn, I found myself struggling to stay awake – dreading the thought of being one of those poor folk who fall into a deep sleep, soothed by the motion of the carriage, and miss their stop, ending up half way to Walthamstow, I desperately scrambled in my bag to find something to occupy my brain. Popping a chewing gum in my mouth, I pulled the now crumpled, ripped and folded issue from the depths of my tote, hoping that I would find something remotely interesting to take my mind of the fact that it was physical effort to keep my eyes open.
‘Stop magazine – The People Issue’ the cover told me. Sniggering a little at the irony of the name (having literally been stopped in my tracks by its wielder) and silently congratulating its creator, it suddenly dawned on me that this was not the metro-esque publication worthy only of the bin, but instead more of a Wonderland magazine in newspaper format with a real emphasis on fashion and lifestyle – Perhaps a little dim of me, considering said paper was shoved in my face on exiting Somerset house in the throes of fashion week. Thinking about it bit more I began to realize that the distribution method was actually very artful, positioning themselves in prime place for both entry and exit of the main fashion week show space and ensuring that the deliver was a ‘i wont take no for an answer’ kinda lady, they were ensuring that not only the magazine was being seen by all the right people but giving themselves a real fashion orientated presence – first impressions count after all.
While the publication at first glance appears very formal and rigid ( a very faishony vogue-esque cover shot with only the essential information on the cover, designed I suspect to lure in the serious fashionistas) after reading it the best way to describe it is simplistic and individual. Take for example the contributors page:
While it is in no way individual to Pop magazine’s standard, It is elegantly laid out (all symmetrical and monotone), visually pleasing and personal (all the images depict the contributors personality, through a series of kooky poses) – makes for a nice change from the ultra serious miasma that swarms fashion week. Perhaps I could be heckled for making such a sweeping statement, but it seems that this air of ambivalent playfulness was the magazine’s intention all along, in which case they have hit the nail right on the head ; ‘unlike fashion week, we guarantee there’s something for everyone’ insists the editor Angelica – a very bold statement but in no way unreasonable, the choice of topics within the publication range from completely random articles such as where to eat the best cheeses in London, to slightly lurid stories about testicles, there are more on the beat interviews with designers like David Longshaw and even a sympathetic opinion piece on the fashion bloggers (aka the vultures) of fashion week; to say the topics are diverse would be an understatement and that they are interesting is nowhere near fitting ( i must’ve been sat, one corner of each side of the paper in the space of the two people either side of me, my face inches away from the page, gawping at the content completely oblivious to the commuters around me).
There was also a smattering of Urban outtfitter-esque editorials showing some very wearable trends in realistic situations – there was no stately homes or couture gowns, but the composition worked perfectly with the concept and a sharp set of images was achieved :
What i personally love about the magazine/newspaper/what ever it is, is that, as i meantioned before, the content is not predicatble and in some cases quite risque – they tread dangerously the line of lurid and conservative, fully aware of the risk of alienating certain people with sex stories and articles about porn stars, yet they balance it out perfectly with insightful and cultural topics which are likely to bore the people who are busy reading said sex story – confusing to explain, but in theory it is perfectly balanced. In other cases the writers take a whole new spin on topics which have been deemed as a taboo in the industry (or should never be uttered in the same sentence as fashion). For example, this article on woman body builder, Zanetka Malinowska, instead of taking the ‘she’s an oddity’ stance, they suggest that perhaps we should take a leaf out of her book and (while not becoming a female bodybuilder, unless that’s your dream) strive to have a healthy body. Presenting heras immaculately finished and indisputably femme in a series of editorials it not only challenges the ‘butch’ stereotype so closely linked with body building, it is a nice contrast to the constant stream of stories about anorexia and bulmia.
Amid all these incitful and intelligent articles, I could barely disguise my delight when i turned the page to be presented with these gorgeous hounds, for a few minutes i didn’t have to immerse myself in content instead i could just be lost in puggy-oblivion (look at that little bow-tie, he wears it better than any man)- i guess the editor was right when she said that there was something for everyone.
While the reader can’t seem to decide what it is (newspaper or magazine? Vogue or Wonderland?) or who it’s for (voguette or fashion minnow) that is the beauty of Stop, it is versatile and unpredictable, rich in content and even, dare i say mocking of the industry conventions an dstereotypes whilst challenging them (see below for evidence); one thing is for certain it more than fulfills its ‘something for everyone’ promise. Of corse, there is always the question does this alienate people who are die hard fashionistas? who turn their noses up at anything that doesn’t have a glossy cover and wouldn’t be seen dead reading other than how to make their own chain mail vest, or does it in fact become their secret pleasure? Read in a toilet cubicle or on a train back in the real world outside of the fashion week bubble.
As i turned over the final page i was surpised to find a fashion week schedule on the back – it was as if suddenly in one final, helpful flourish, they were remembering forgetful people like me, who, instead of having to scramble round int heir bag, now full of leaflets, pens, freebies and the rest of the kitchen sink, i just had to pull out the large, easy to find magazine and glance on the back to find out and time just how fast i had to run to get t the next show (because i would inevitably be late having been held up by leaflet hander-outfitters) – it would for the day at least, be your faithful companion and personal assistant, only with more knowledge that the British library and very changeable nature.
At the beginning of the magazine/newspaper, the editor says ‘just carry us around, pass us along, crumple us up for use us as a coaster – but at some point take a look inside’ – Pretty good that she had us nailed from the opening, so instead of being screwed up and thrown away, i neatly folded my issue and put it atop of my Vogue and Lula back issues, maybe i will throw it way one day (once I’ve removed the pug page of corse) but until then i will keep it as almost an unknown compliment to the writers; I guess the fact is, even if I wasn’t willing to do as the editor asks, I would still do it, out of fear of magazine Ogre appearing out of my wardrobe and clubbing my over the head with her stash of rolled up issues.