W's September issue reveals a cover-to-cover overhaul and its first logo redesign. They're the first steps in a multiplatform brand transformation planned for the months ahead.
Unveiling the magazine at Condé Nast's Times Square headquarters, Tonchi spoke fervently about the changing meaning of style and how W will adapt.
Once seen as an Old Guard society-and-couture tome, the glossy is opening up to all aspects of fashionable culture. Tonchi described the new W as "downtown content in an uptown package."
The September cover signals the brand's developing identity and priorities, featuring a triple gatefold (thank you, Dior advertising) that blazes with three rotating photos of up-and-coming young actresses. Farewell, Angelina (for now), and hello, indie darlings!
This is no peaches-and-cream Vanity Fair take on young Hollywood, though. New editor at large Lynn Hirschberg chose lesser known but noteworthy talents: Jennifer Lawrence, Greta Gerwig, Yaya DaCosta, Kat Dennings, Jessica Chastain, Emma Roberts, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Zoë Kravitz.
Shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, the young women look confident and sexy, all in black without any cleavage in sight. They represent many types of beauty: blonde waves and an Afro, perfect crimson lipstick and smudged black eyeliner, Dennings's curves and Chastain's androgynous toughness.
As for the logo, it's still a tall, classically serif "W" but it's now leaner and italicized -- tilting forward in a racy, streamlined way.
Tonchi also added a few authors' names to the front cover, a nod to his emphasis on substantial, provocative editorial content.
Inside, much of the content is arranged to match the tagline's five Ws. Each section has a wide reach; for instance, the "Why" pages cover architect Kazuyo Sejima, Turkish designer Hakaan Yildirim, and rising model Liu Wen.
The editorial tone is still sophisticated but with a candid edge. There are even flashes of sharp humor, as in an article about plastic surgery on young women that describes a plague of "lips seemingly flipped up and flattened like soggy hamburger buns."
At the launch presentation, Hirschberg enthused about "Winter's Bone" actress Lawrence, predicting an Oscar nomination -- and bemoaned the "Chace Crawfordization" of young male actors who are better at posing than emoting.
In the magazine, Hirschberg writes an equally opinionated profile on this filmic generation, focusing on breakout Lawrence. Accompanying videos of all the actresses appear on the magazine's Web site.
Page layouts have more variety, mixing illustrations with photos and playing with scale. For an exclusive look at George Clooney's upcoming film "The American," Hirschberg persuaded director Anton Corbijn to share his personal photos of the movie shoot, replicating his handwritten captions for each image for an intimate, scrapbook-like feature.
"Backstory" pages, at the end of the magazine, are another new arrival. Here, the editors sketch out the issue's influences and catalysts, such as the Edward Hopper paintings and Broadway play that sparked a 1950s-ish fashion spread.
As Tonchi notes in his editor's letter, "It says a lot about how much broader our definition of 'style' has become that these trendsetters can coexist with... our portfolio chronicling the last year of Louise Bourgeois --- an artist who can only be remembered as a uniquely brave and adventurous pioneer."
W next plans to relaunch its Web site in September, followed by a Fashion on Film project in late October. A short documentary on the making of the September issue will debut online, alongside other fashion-based films chosen by W editors. An iPad application is in the works for spring 2011.
As for that big, bold cover line, "Great Expectations"? It's safe to say that Tonchi is winking at the magazine itself, too.
In related news, check out what direction some other September fashion magazines went.