Could somebody pass me my exciting new magazine klaxon because new title Riposte has landed and it looks like a bobby-dazzler (maybe betty-dazzler?). Billed as “a smart magazine for women,”it’s the brainchild of KK outlet curator and longtime friend of It’s Nice That Danielle Pender. Several months in the offing, it’s now finally dropped like a really phat beat in a ruddy good dance song (simile for the kids there) and lo and behold it was certainly worth the wait.
Following the format of “five ideas, four meetings, three features, two essays and one icon”, the inaugural issue includes interviews with The New Yorker art director Françoise Mouly and the effervescent Nelly Ben Hayoun among others. But top content needs great design and in calling in the brilliant Shaz Madani to oversee the look and feel, Danielle seems to have hit on a winning formula. Ahead of its official launch, we caught up with her to find out more…
Why did you feel the time was right for a new women’s title? What did you feel was lacking from the women’s sector?
We interviewed Françoise Mouly for our first issue and she said of her publishing venture RAW: “I did it because I wanted to see something like this and it didn’t exist.” This is the same starting point for Riposte.
There are some good magazines out there but I think there should be a broader range of titles, catering to a broader range of interests. I think there needs to be a different approach to how we talk to and about women. Throughout Riposte we’ve tried to bring something positive; to focus on bold, fascinating women who are doing incredible things. To celebrate them for what they’re doing and saying, rather than what they look like. Françoise Mouly is literally the coolest woman in the world but hardly anyone knows about her. She was an architect, a plumber, a printer, she is an authority on graphic art and now she commissions a different artist to create a culturally relevant cover for The New Yorker magazine every single week.
I’m not interested in being negative about what’s out there at the minute as I don’t think we have all the answers either but it does feel like a lot of titles on offer are a bit formulaic, they don’t take enough risks. Women aren’t all the same so why should the magazines on offer be?
In terms of readership is this a magazine about women aimed at women or at everyone?
I think you have to set your stall out clearly so that people understand what you’re about but in the same way as I read Port or The Rig Out, or more male orientated titles like Modern Matter, I hope that men pick up Riposte.
It isn’t written from an exclusively female perspective. Gender-related questions become formulaic, why fall back on them when there are so many other aspects of a person’s life and outlook you can talk about? We’ll ask these questions if it’s relevant – for example we have a feature looking at female producers and why it’s such a male dominated industry – but gender politics is not the main focus throughout the magazine.
What have been the biggest challenges involved in the project?
There’s been quite a few. Finding enough money to cover print costs. Finding enough time around a full-time job to do it all in. People not responding to my emails because they’ve never heard of me. Last minute proofing mistakes. Take your pick…
“There are some good magazines out there but I think there should be a broader range of titles, catering to a broader range of interests. I think there needs to be a different approach to how we talk to and about women.”
Tell us about the design approach. Did that come from Shaz or was it worked up in collaboration?
We spent a long time discussing the front cover. We wanted a cover which was bold, something that focused on the women in the magazine and what they had to say, rather than what they looked like.
Once we decided on the text-based cover Shaz took this thinking and developed the interior. She’s such a talented designer, her references and intelligence make you really trust her judgement.
She took her inspiration from old National Geographic magazines which have these incredible layouts and I think her use of colour throughout the magazine contrasted with paired back layouts lets the content speak for itself.
What are your hopes for the title going forward?
I’m really excited about moving forward and seeing what people make of Riposte. I’m looking forward to working with Shaz and other talented contributors on future issues, making it into more than a magazine and one day meeting Françoise Mouly!