A 'Vogue' for men who have everything (except insecurity about their sexuality)

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The Independent Online

More than a century after the launch of the original, a new Vogue is entering the increasingly crowded US men's magazine market next month, specifically targeted at "the guys on the arms of the women who read Vogue", in the words of publisher Tom Florio.

Men's Vogue, initally to appear quarterly, is the latest addition to the growing family of the magazine known in America as Big Mama and brought forth by its legendary editor Anna Wintour. Already available on US news-stands is Teen Vogue; on the horizon, they say, is Vogue Living.

Fashion will only be one component of the magazine. But it will not, say the people behind it, be the sort of magazine young men run to for advice on how to improve their love lives. Lines such as this from the latest Maxim - "Your crappy card tricks might not work on women any more but a classy pair of shoes will get them every time" - will be conspicuous by their absence.

This will be a magazine for the man who has already arrived. "Men's Vogue is very much talking to a man who is already living his life," insists Mr Florio. "It's not aspirational. It's not a shopping magazine. We're not teaching him how to drink Scotch." It will, however, promises the cover, advise you how to choose "the perfect gift for your wife".

Of course the original Vogue already counts many men among its readers: husbands combating boredom at catwalks and outside fashionable dressing rooms, bored chaps in dentists' waiting rooms, homosexual men. Gay males apart, it's probably fair to say that most men read it somewhat furtively.

Ms Wintour has no need of such wimps among her subscribers. "The target reader," she declares, "is a man over 35 who earns more than $100,000 [£56,000] a year, is already living the life he wants rather than merely chasing it, and presumably isn't too embarrassed to be seen reading a magazine that for more than a century has been associated with women."

That "presumably" is a gauntlet flung down to potential readers: will you have the courage to take this out of your briefcase on the train? If you do, the cover of the first issue goes out of its way to assure you that you are doing something robust and manly. George Clooney lounges centre stage, modelling a beautiful coat but also cradling an old-fashioned black telephone, with a quizzical frown playing on his lips. "George Clooney Exposes the Secrets of the CIA", the puff promises, "And Almost Dies for It". The coat's nice and the magazine will tell you where to get it and how much it costs. But it will spare you the ineffable rag trade prose of the wife's Vogue.

There'll be some manly meat in there. A definite whiff of James Bond comes off the cover of the first issue; the word "fashion" is conspicuous by its absence. "Eyes in the Jungle" yells another cover line: "A Journey to the Strangest Places on Earth."

Ms Wintour says of editor Jay Fielden: "He's sort of the target reader." Aged 35, Mr Fielden was raised in San Antonio, Texas. "I'm a guy who loves magazines," he says eagerly. "I grew up reading them and would carry The New Yorker around like an acolyte, with my dictionary, when I was 15. Magazines were a connection to something a long way away. They were meaningful. It's eerie, half my life later, to be doing a magazine like this. You feel the momentum of where you came from and what you've been thinking for years and how it all makes some strange, interesting sense."

Mr Fielden relates to the anxiety of potential readers who may feel iffy asking for a magazine called Vogue. "Well, men care," he admits. "I'm no psychoanalyst but I know that much."

But despite his boss's stern prescriptions regarding income and orientation, Mr Fielden is determined to be open-minded. "I think this magazine is open to all," he says, "and it doesn't try to stereotype or imagine what it is a person does in his private life."

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