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MIAMI - Men's Vogue, the newest title from magazine-publishing giant Conde Nast, hit shelves a few weeks ago with a gentle whoomp. Not so much a resonant thud as its famous, phone book-sized sister publication is wont to do, but more of an elegant settling in, a pouring of scotch (Macallan, no doubt), a sinking into a large, leather lounge chair, if you will.
Publishing quarterly until demand dictates otherwise, it would appreciate it if you'd please keep the noise down to respectable levels.
In his debut Letter from the Editor, Jay Fielden promises that "interspersed among dispatches on art and architecture, food and travel, books and film ... is a roster of other articles that combines far-reaching curiosity about the world with an appreciation of the kind of style that emanates from accomplishment and substance."
In other words, it's kind of like all the other men's magazines except it's filled with stuff you really can't afford. But it's not really for you anyway ... unless, of course, you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or some such.
In an era when men's magazines are targeting younger, gayer, middle-income readers, Men's Vogue aspires to be the staid, upscale compendium of culture for the sophisticated hundred-thousandaire over 35.
If you're looking for a $2,100 coffee maker, a $170,000 Bentley or a $1.5 million wrist watch - or, perhaps, if you just want to know what the stuff looks like - this is the book for you.
As Washington Post media writer Peter Carlson and a handful of others have pointed out, the magazine is a kind of "wish book," like the old Sears catalog; like window shopping for junior executives. Not too many people have the kind of dough to drop on a million-dollar timepiece, but lust is cheap and desire does not discriminate, which is exactly what Men's Vogue is counting on.
In its oh-so-glossy pages, one will be hard pressed to find a single rapper, roustabout or rapscallion of the kind that populate the popular lad mags sharing shelf space.
What you will find are profiles of artists Julian Opie, Walton Ford and John Currin, architect David Adjaye, actor George Clooney (who squints at you from the cover draped in camel hair and cashmere), tennis pro Roger Federer (not sweaty) and a handful of sartorially splendid others.
All this is not to say that the magazine isn't worthy of a read. Even though I'm about 10 years out from its target market, I like the clean layout (GQ's design gives me a headache) and easy-to-read typography.
And while I'll probably never need to know what to wear for a traditional English hunting trip, how to stash my untold millions in a Swiss bank account or where to get a vintage, hand-operated Italian-made machine that will slice my prosciutto ribbon-thin, I appreciated that the stories were well-written, told me what I needed to know and then got the hell out of the way.
Whether the magazine can find a consistent readership remains to be seen. It seems unlikely that the younger set will trade in their GQs, Esquires or Details for a magazine that is even less reflective of who they are. And the Vogue name may be a hard sell to the older guys who have always considered the title a "girly magazine."
The niche they are trying to fill isn't exactly wide open. The Robb Report has long been the bible of luxury living and last August, Conde Nast corporate sibling Fairchild Publications launched its new high-end men's magazine, Vitals.
Of course, Conde Nast has deep pockets and can float the book for as long as it wants. Judging by the look on Clooney's face, they're making themselves very comfortable.
(c) 2005, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.