The Face is a magazine that needs little introduction. From a pale, red-eyed McQueen to a grinning, young Kate Moss to Kurt Cobain in a onesie, it produced some of the most recognisable imagery in the worlds of fashion and culture during the 1980s and 90s. Started by Nick Logan, the former editor of Smash Hits, The Face employed and worked with a team who, although trailblazers at the time, are now considered some of the biggest names in the creative industry.
With the coveted magazine relaunching online today, and in print this autumn, a new team is in place to attempt to, once again, set the bar for music, fashion and culture publishing. “Timing is always crucial with magazines and the time feels just right for this relaunch,” explains Stuart Brumfitt, the magazine’s editor. “A lot of people are lost, frustrated and, frankly, bored. I know a lot of people are looking for a space – a site, a magazine – where they can go for discovery, knowledge and surprises. Everyone we’ve spoken to is thirsting for the comeback!”
Stuart will be working alongside a diverse team, all of whom bring different perspectives. “We want to keep people guessing, be smart, inclusive, curious and have fun doing it,” he tells It’s Nice That. The Face’s art director Alex O’Brien, for example, has worked closely with Bureau Borsche on the launch of the magazine’s first online presence, a site which was built by Mathematics. “The site’s logo is purposefully very in-your-face and we wanted to work with bold headlines and text. There’s also incredible digital and motion design coming from the gifted in-house design team,” Stuart explains.
Mirko Borsche first became involved in the project after receiving an email from Dan Flower, the magazine’s managing director. “He asked whether I would be interested in designing a website and magazine that was from the 90s – he didn’t mention the name, but he’d left The Face’s logo in the footer of his email, so I knew that’s what it was about. After three or four emails, we agreed [Bureau Borshe] would do the art direction and creative direction for the magazine and the website,” Mirko tells us.
On how it felt to be taking on Neville Brody’s legacy, a designer of whom he is a big fan, Mirko says: “I had to convince myself, and I’m still a bit afraid of it. Everyone who liked it in the 90s will remember how great that magazine was. They’ll be critical. If you’re going to re-do something like this, you know it’s going to be tough, everyone is going to be harsh. There’s a risk involved. Everyone who used to like it is probably going to hate it.”
Mirko and Alex were given free rein by Stuart, even told they could redesign the logo. “My feeling is that you need to have the same DNA in the new version,” Mirko explains. “Older readers are going to be looking for that, even though younger readers don’t have the same attachment. In the end, though, we changed everything – we re-did all the typefaces, we tweaked the logo and redesigned the layouts.”
The Face will, therefore, feature three new and custom typefaces, in a subtle nod to the DIY typographic attitude of the 90s. One typeface features solely online, and the other two will appear on the pages of the first print issue. Despite featuring a whole new team and design aesthetic, the spirit of The Face remains the same, Stuart ensures us. “The magazine changed and adapted so much during its lifetime and I think it’s a great credit to all the previous editors that they all made their mark, but kept that special spirit. That’s the main thing I’m determined to keep alive. It’s something that inspired me when I read it as a teenager and I want to keep that energy alive.”
The Face’s new website is now live and includes a conversation between Octavian and Virgil Alboh, a profile on London-based fashion designer Mowalola and exclusive behind the scenes photography of Robyn on tour. The team has also shared some of its initial commissions which include photographic work (below) from It’s Nice That favourite Alexander Coggin.
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