PAAR-TAAY!: Alpha Media Inc. is the new owner of Maxim and Blender, so naturally when it was looking to launch a new venture it went right to its beer-and-babes sweet spot and came up with an event production company, called Alpha Productions. The venture quietly began operations a couple of weeks ago, with Doug Turner, previously associate publisher of the now-defunct Stuff, to head it up. For now, its six staff members (four former Dennis Publishing employees, two new hires) are taking on the previously planned added-value events that partner with advertisers. (The Stuff Style Awards were hastily rebranded to the Maxim Style Awards. “It got upgraded,” said Turner. This, from someone who was selling Stuff just a couple of months ago? “I can say it now.”) “We understand young men’s lifestyles and needs and desires,” said Turner. And while Maxim and Blender’s names will continue to be slapped on invites for advertisers, the hope is the production company will become a stand-alone proposition. “We would like a brand identity all our own,” Turner said. — Irin Carmon
THE SEVENTIES WERE IT: There were better-known names at the GQ 50th anniversary party Tuesday — Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Diddy — but a cluster of men known more for their faces and physiques could lay claim to greater influence, at least in the magazine. They were the models who appeared in the magazine in the Seventies and Eighties, mostly in early photos by Bruce Weber that have had a lasting aesthetic impact. As detailed in a story in the October GQ by David Kamp, models like Jeff Aquilon and Michael Ives were discovered by the magazine and emerged as gay icons. And Renauld White, also in attendance, was one of the first black models to appear on the cover. (Sammy Davis Jr. was the first black man, in 1967, and the magazine continues to have a significant African American readership. “I sometimes hear people say it like it’s a secret,” said editor in chief Jim Nelson. “Art Cooper knew that, I know that, and we celebrate it.” Indeed, the party’s biggest names were African-American musician-moguls and athletes.)
This story first appeared in the September 20, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Though many players in Kamp’s story about the Seventies GQ sensibility were lost to AIDS — including Seventies-era GQ art directors Harry Coulianos and Donald Sterzin — their influence endures.
Said Nelson, “I heard whispers of this when I first got the job [as editor in chief] and went to Milan to meet with designers like Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs — people would talk about the Seventies era of GQ as the secretly influential years. It was a more marginal magazine then, before Art Cooper made it a mainstream, successful juggernaut.”
He continued, “It changed the visual iconography. People now are used to seeing sexy, even homoerotic images on billboards, and I think that’s a great thing. It’s liberating and allows everyone to celebrate physical beauty without hang-ups.” Kamp finds that heritage today in Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues and Calvin Klein billboards.
Elsewhere in the issue, a retrospective debunks the magazine’s 1991 claim that Julia Roberts was the first woman to appear on the cover, an achievement actually of Carol Channing’s. “We repressed it,” joked Nelson. “[Art Cooper] had so refashioned the magazine in his image to be so masculine, and he might not even have looked back. It [Roberts’ cover] just seemed like it was the first woman.” — I.C.
FINE LINES: It looks like Hedi Slimane, who has shunned the media spotlight since parting ways with Dior Homme last March, is ready to talk. Word has it French daily Le Monde will publish an interview with Slimane this weekend. Journalist Florence Evin declined to discuss the article’s content, but it is understood Slimane reiterates that he has maintained good relations with luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and its chairman, Bernard Arnault. — Miles Socha