When it launched five years ago, Wallpaper magazine fingered a hitherto unknown class of young, jet-setting, design-savvy consumers. Now, editors at the London-based publication are focusing their attention on fashion with Spruce, a new biannual magazine out next week. Like Wallpaper, which has a worldwide circulation just shy of 140,000, the magazine isn't for just anyone. "Our reader might be the person who spends six months writing a script in London and six months in L.A., and is also in Tokyo, and spending time shooting in Australia. The world is their marketplace," said Wallpaper Group editorial director Tyler Brule. (If we could all be so lucky.)
At $10, Spruce isn't cheap and it doesn't dish out typical fashion mag grist either--no runway photos, esoteric photo spreads or premiere party coverage. In fact, there's nary a celebrity in the fold. "Celebrity is so present in popular culture, people want an oasis from that," Brule said. "Just show me the handbag, I don't care whose arm it's hanging from."
Instead, the first issue--of which there will be 250,000 printed--introduces such behind-the-scenes fashion folk as industry market analysts. It also explores quirky subjects, including a new Swiss button-fastening machine that could render the hotel sewing kit obsolete. Not ones to wait for public relations flacks to ply their merchandise, Spruce correspondents have combed famous and not-so-famous shopping streets from Dublin to Istanbul for original products such as a Swiss leather scooter helmet. And for those on a budget, there are sewing patterns for men's trousers and a women's skirt included. "Have a go at it yourself," editors suggest, "or drop it off at your local tailor."
Spruce was born out of a desire to buck the trend of existing fashion titles, which Brule lumps into two categories: those that have become too diluted with recipes, celeb interviews, relationship columns and such; and those that are really ego-driven art books masquerading as magazines--more concerned with building the careers of photographers, stylists and models than serving consumers. (Spruce readers can rest easy: Contributors' qualifications, including education and job experience, are listed next to their names.)
The biannual will be available worldwide, but unlike Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire, it is not being modified for different countries. "Publishing lags behind when you look at the notion of the global marketplace," Brule said. "Madonna is releasing the same CD around the world, it's not being remixed for different markets. A lot of people have money to get on aircraft, and they can be exposed to shopping all over the world."
By offering a comprehensive directory, complete with phone numbers and Web sites, Brule hopes the magazine will occupy a lofty perch as an "elixir for globalization." "We've proven it with Wallpaper already," he said. "Our readers don't want to show up with the same pair of shoes everyone else has. If they see a sandal that's only available in Tokyo, they will trace their feet and send it off and buy it."
On the other end of the publishing spectrum, InStyle has devoted a forest's worth of pages to L.A.'s best dressed over the years, so it's about time the glossy "discovered" a few West Coast designers. In a fashion report titled "West Dressed," the September issue features eight local talents, including David Cardona, Magda Berliner, Trina Turk, Rozae Nichols and Michelle Mason, pictured alongside their celebrity fans.
"L.A. fashion has blossomed over the past few years," InStyle senior editor Lisa Arbetter said Thursday. "A far cry from the casual skirt-and-T-shirt look that was once so associated with the city, these designers are creating sophisticated looks, mixing fabrics and twisting classics in really unique ways."
Then again, some of us already knew that.
Reality could imitate TV for a change if Sarah Jessica Parker decides to take a spin on the catwalk during New York's fashion week next month. Only this time, she wouldn't be shilling for Dolce & Gabbana (as her alter ego Carrie Bradshaw did during an episode of HBO's "Sex and the City"). She would be modeling for the show's costume designer Patricia Field, who is scheduled to show her own line Sept. 8 at Bryant Park.
Field, whose Greenwich Village boutique has been a bastion of hip for more than 20 years, produces clothes under the House of Field name for about 120 high-end stores nationwide. But this week, she signed an agreement with multimedia firm Walk Away Entertainment Inc. to go mass with jeans, lingerie, accessories and cosmetics, for department stores.
"It's going to be an expanded, more commercial version of House of Field available to a wider range of people," the redheaded designer said in a telephone interview Thursday, adding that she envisions the line selling at moderate prices beginning next spring.
Helping Field will be longtime design partner David Dalrymple, who has created custom outfits for celebs, including the pinstripe suit and nude fishnet get-up Britney Spears stripped off at the 2000 MTV Music Awards.
Although the collection is unconnected to "Sex and the City," the girls have all been invited to model, Field said. The Emmy Award-winning designer has launched a bevy of fashion trends on the show, including Fendi baguettes, overgrown silk flower pins, nameplate necklaces and this season's Gucci logo belt bags. Episodes are full of references to luxury labels, but Field also shops flea markets and vintage stores for original pieces.
"The status thing is gorgeous and I love it, but it's too special and too limited. I'd rather be with the world than be with a segment."