Women want it weekly?

Fiona McIntosh, editor-in-chief of new upmarket fashion magazine Grazia, believes so.

Fiona McIntosh was sitting in Giorgio Armani's sumptuous wood- panelled office in Milan - with its exquisite furniture and floor-to-ceiling bookcases - and struggling to believe what she was hearing.

For the previous year and more, McIntosh, the former editor of Elle and Company, had led an ambitious project to change the face of British women's magazines, reluctantly hiring a nanny for her two young daughters in order to throw herself back into the publishing fray. And now the greatest fashion designer in the world was pouring cold water over all her plans.

Armani could not see how McIntosh's idea for turning the upmarket magazine Grazia - for 66 years an Italian institution - into a weekly, must-read for the ABC1 women of the UK could possibly succeed.

"We had a very nerve-racking 20-minute meeting with Giorgio Armani," recalls McIntosh, months later. "He said, `I cannot see how this Italian magazine would work in London, because London is crazy and fast. Everybody dresses differently and nothing is simple.'"

Armani was won round only after McIntosh showed him a dummy copy of the magazine, which will appear on British streets tomorrow. Then, like the Man from Del Monte, Giorgio said si and backed up his approval with orders for display ads for his clothes and fragrances. "He said, `I can see it's fast and upbeat like London,'" says McIntosh, Grazia's editor- in-chief. "He was our first advertiser on board and it was very important."

The launch issue has Jennifer Aniston as its cover star. Aniston was chosen, says McIntosh, "because we are fascinated by her life and she's perfect for our target audience". The former Friends actress is "magazine magic ... one of those rare stars who does sell magazines". And herein lies Grazia's problem: the pixie dust provided by Aniston and a small cluster of other glamorous cover girls is well recognised and coveted by other participants in an already crowded weekly celebrity magazine market. If Grazia is to go down the celeb path - as it is - then it faces a real battle to make itself distinctive from the likes of Heat, Closer and Reveal, which already persuade readers to stump up their money every seven days for the latest goss. Emap clearly believes there is a gap in the market and is investing a staggering pounds 16m in the launch.

McIntosh explains how it works. The Grazia concept is a magazine that compares in content terms to the likes of Elle and Marie Claire but is more current. It will be published as frequently as Closer and Reveal but will offer something classier. It will be a little less catty than Heat, a bit more incisive than Hello! and OK! and aimed at a slightly older readership (25-45) than Glamour.

The pitch will be "Britain's first weekly glossy" and clearly it is the seven-day turnaround that is seen as the trump card in McIntosh's hand.

She says: "The big question for the glossy market is `Where do we take it next?'. Glamour had a huge impact with its format and price. But what's going to be the next stage?"

She thinks the answer to that question is "frequency". She says: "The big advantage that we have is that, because we are weekly, our stories are of the moment. We are skimming off the most glamorous news of the week."

As an editor of a monthly she became increasingly aware of - and frustrated by - the ability of the entertainment weeklies to scoop the best showbiz stories. It seems significant that Grazia's launch coincides with the start of the party and awards season, with events such as the Brits, the Baftas and the Oscars offering opportunities for some early triumphs over monthly rivals.

McIntosh admits, though, that persuading women to buy her magazine every seven days is "the biggest challenge" she faces. It's no good Grazia winning public approval if readers bother to pick up a copy only once every three or four weeks.

She repeatedly stresses how important it has been to have a large contingent of deadline-tuned ex-newspaper folk among her 42-strong team (led by editor Jane Bruton, who was recently named editor of the year for her work at Living Etc).

"It was important we had a news element in the magazine that made it compulsive," she says. "And which is why we are going for a star cover as opposed to a model cover."

These celebrity covers will not offer a platform for Jade Goody. Kate Moss, Kate Winslet and Sienna Miller will be more Grazia's style. But those women readers who crave stimulation for the brain should not expect to turn to this new title for investigative journalism or political commentary.

"We are looking at journalism in a different way," says McIntosh. "We want really brilliant writing in this magazine [but] I don't believe that means 2,000-word reports on Iraq."

Her star writers will be Mimi Spencer (former editor of the London Evening Standard's ES magazine) and Polly Vernon (Observer columnist). "They will write about important issues but important issues for this generation of women, which are things like social behaviour, fertility, our place in the world," says McIntosh.

A good health feature, such as the emergence of the GI diet in favour of Atkins, will be a weekly must. Gordon Ramsay's other half Tana has been hired to write about food.

Grazia will be big on fashion. Very big. Big hitters such as Paula Reed (former fashion director of The Sunday Times) and Laura Craik (Evening Standard) have been recruited.

But with Vogue and Elle and Harpers already available on a monthly basis, one might question whether British women are sufficiently obsessed with the latest sartorial trends to want the weekly fix that obviously suits their Italian sisters.

McIntosh says they are. "We (the British) mix up fashion. We are a lot more eclectic.

"We still lust after the designer bag of the season, the great shoes, the Dior sunglasses. But we will mix up our looks with high street fashion. We have a more independent approach."

When McIntosh says "we" it is with an antipodean twang, but she is a stalwart of British publishing and is convinced she has correctly judged the zeitgeist. I has been incredibly exciting. We feel we are doing something new. If I were coming back to do another monthly then..." McIntosh tails off and shakes her head. "...but we are trying to break new ground with this."

She is reluctant to name the titles from which she hopes to pinch readers. The names of Elle and Marie Claire are eventually offered - reluctantly - but she believes that the real pickings are to be had from a sea of floating voters who currently have no fixed loyalties. "The days of being a diehard loyalist to one particular magazine are over," she says.

Perhaps so, but even with a comparatively modest first year target of 150,000 sales, McIntosh must hope that a sizeable slice of Britain's glossy magazine buyers can be persuaded to be less fickle and shell out pounds 1.50 for Grazia each and every week.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'