Acne Paper

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TODAY'S MOST INTERESTING PUBLICATIONS ARE INDIVIDUAL AFFAIRS WITH A HANDMADE AESTHETIC.

n this economic climate that favors the safety and ubiquity of palatable consumable glamour, a wave of exceptional creative talents are distancing themselves from the hype and scale of the formerly dominant "super glossies" in favor of bespoke fashion publications.

Of note are several experimental, mostly European magazines with an independent outlook and strong counterculture agendas that reflect the individual sensibilities of their editorial (rather than advertising) teams. Amsterdam-based Fantastic Man, edited by Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers (both of BU7T magazine fame), is distinguished by great interviews, the strength of its photographic contributors, and its pared-down aesthetic. Also cut from this mold are Berlin's 032c, France's Purple, and the tattoo-art mag Sang Bleu from Switzerland.

Daren Ellis's twice-yearly Big Show provides an alternative to the end-of-runway scrum and backstage paparazzi approach we're used to seeing from the fashion week presentations in Paris, London, New York, and Milan. The magazine has suc ceeded by thinking broadly and originally about how one might cover the new season's collections while maintaining an editorial philosophy that is unabashedly photography-driven and that encourages sophisticated and sometimes critical perspectives. The imminent launch of Ellis's own magazine SHOW promises further and timely interrogation of fashion week and a reassessment of what catwalk coverage can be.

With hand-printed editions limited to 50, most people have only seen Nomenus Quarterly at its unfussy online home, NomenusQuarterly.com. The concept, realized by editor-in-chief and photographer Erik Madigan Heck, is simple enough: a desire to "create an atmosphere that I wished to contribute to," he says. The resulting publication is a perfect example of the magazine as art object, a limited-edition fusion of literature, photography, fashion, painting, critical studies, music, and film with a sublimely elegant sensibility. Heck began the project online, and Nomenus is proof that the Internet has opened up new options in fashion publishing.

In this case the website served as a testing ground and then a way to maintain audience engagement for a project that otherwise would have been inaccessible to most people.

With photographers and editors taking publications into their own hands, it's no surprise that fashion houses are doing the same. In these democratic spins on the industry-oriented look book, healthy budgets are employed to create editorial teams and publications that are unusually impressive. Check out Acne Paper, with each issue addressing a specific theme by way of art, literature, history, fashion, and photography. The free high-street versions, including Uniqlo and Cos, are also worth a look. If you're into fashion photography, be sure to check out their mastheads—you'll be surprised by who you find there. —m.k.

Left top: A cover from Daren Ellis's Big Show. Left bottom: A cover from Acne Paper, produced by ACNE clothing company.

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