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THE EVOLUTION OF MAXIM: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR FASHION AND WOMEN?



           When Maxim readers expressed an interest in more stories covering fashion and grooming, publishers took it as incentive for rebranding the 20-year-old title. The new focus highlights a movement towards the evolution of traditionally shameful reads. This change has the potential to significantly impact how the average man views the fashion industry. The change also opens up the opportunity to revise the way women are viewed through male-centric publications.

It was an unexpected move for Maxim, a publication that currently boasts 2 million subscribers (consisting mainly of men in their 30s), to hire fashion industry darling Kate Lanphear as their new Editor-in-Chief. Lanphear, who has previously held positions at Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Elle, and T Magazine, says that her aim for Maxim is to portray women “as three-dimensional as they actually are, that they are confident, healthy and energetic and happy. I want women that men can fall in love with and not just objectify.”

(Kate Lanphear)

Lanphear’s first issue as EIC debuted in March. The decision to place Candice Swanepoel on the cover demonstrated the first move strategic towards reconciling the past with the future. Swanepoel, a well-known high-fashion model, topped Maxim’s Hot 100 list in 2014. However, rather that choose a cover that flaunted Ms. Swanepoel’s famously toned body, Lanphear went with a close up of her face. “It was one of my favorite pictures from the shoot,” she says. “But I think it speaks to our ideas about desire and sexuality, not shying away from that. You don’t see almost anything but Candice’s gorgeous face and how hypnotic her eyes are. I think that speaks to how surprising and challenging sexiness is.”

            Though Maxim remains America’s largest selling men’s lifestyle magazine, it still retained a negative connotation until Lanphear arrived. I associated it with editorials of soft porn fostering the objectifying male gaze. While Lanphear could not do away with this content all together (and risk loosing long-term subscribers), the magazine now features more relatable women who look natural in front of the camera.


For April 2015 Lanphear gave the cover to another Victoria’s Secret Angel (a group known for their athleticism as much as their sexiness): 29-year-old Lily Aldridge. Again the cover focuses solely on her (albeit flawless) face- this time in profile.

The story features the lingerie model writhing around on a beach wearing little more than a pair of jeans. However, this editorial stands out against previous covers because she is clearly in control. She reveals just enough, but makes a point to leave something to the imagination. “I’m very careful about it. I enjoy feeling sexy and beautiful; I just don’t think everyone needs to see everything,” she told the magazine in the accompanying interview.


These are a new genre of fantasy women that accurate reflect the times. They can easily keep up with their male counterparts and are not the least bit interested in making you a sandwich. “We feature the type of women a guy could fall in love with, the same way you celebrate any kind of beauty,” Lanphear explains. “It’s just outside of your reach. We want to celebrate women’s physical beauty because it’s an essential part of the brand, but we also want to celebrate their success and tell their stories. They’re as successful and energetic and driven and confident as the men we want to speak to.”



MY FIRST TRIP TO VERSAILLES



           As I am sure many of my friends could all attest to, I already act like a Queen so it’s fitting that I’ve finally found a place worthy of my habitation. You try palace shopping in this market; it’s exhausting!

 All terrible jokes aside Versailles is easily one of the most marvelous properties I’ve ever visited. From the famed Hall of Mirrors to the sheer vastness of the garden landscape (we nearly got lost out there multiple times), it’s well worth the 45-minute journey from central Paris.


What’s most impressive about the area is the laborious upkeep, which has been maintained over the years to ensure authenticity of the original decorations. One can easily imagine Marie Antoinette and her husband, Louis XVI, living in ample luxury as their peasant-subjects gained momentum elsewhere. I could almost picture the infamous Queen shouting her most quotable line, “Let them eat cake!” from her opulent bed in The Queen’s Chamber. It’s no wonder Kim Kardashian and Kanye West chose to hold their pre-wedding festivities there.  

(A little post-Versailles pick me up at La Favorite, back in Paris) 

bag - Louis Vuitton
jacket - Uniqlo
dress - Asos


PARIS WHEN IT RAINS


Giving my best Audrey in the Jarin de Luxembourg

For many of us even a mention of the word ‘vacation’ has us fantasizing about ourselves lounging on a beach somewhere, tropical drink in hand. At the very least we picture ourselves able to stroll around town comfortably in a sundress or sandals. While this wish holds true of most getaway destinations, Paris is an exception to the rule in that it’s magic can actually be enhanced by gray skies and the occasional downpour.

The best illustration of this point comes from Woody Allen’s 2011 film, Midnight In Paris. Gil, the main character and a hopeless dreamer, loves to wax lyrical about the added romance that brings the city to life whenever the skies open up. In fact the closing line of the film, spoken by Lea Seydoux (a perfect paradigm of the modern Parisian) sums up this notion with a simple sentence: “Actually, Paris is the most beautiful in the rain.”



            After devouring the requisite crepe that every visitor must sample (I went with dark chocolate and almonds), we spent the morning strolling along the Seine and through the charming Latin Quartier. Another great side effect of the weather was that it completely emptied out the streets (and major monuments such as Notre Dame that would otherwise be crawling with fanny-pack-wielding families). Paris was ours for the taking!


            When the downpour became torrential, we conveniently found ourselves next to the famed Galeries Lafayette on Boulevard Haussmann. The department store, which has been around since the early 20th century, has played host to many iconic fashion moments over the years. The central dome, covering its luxury cosmetic department, is it’s best-known component and can be found on many an instagram grid. The rest of the massive space is similarly not to be missed; particularly their witty window displays.



CANNES


          When it comes to travel plans, I’ve always been someone who preferred the excitement of visiting a new bustling city over the relaxed pace of a beach holiday. But when a friend who was visiting from the States suggested that we take a trip down to the Cote d’Azur (which translates to ‘French Rivera’), I was more than happy to comply. Especially considering that the idea was proposed to me in the middle of February when my skin color was akin to a sheet of printer paper. On a good day.

            First up on out jaunt around the South of France was Cannes. Cannes, which is of course best known for its annual film festival (the 2015 installation will take place May 13-24), is set within the Alpes-Maritimes area of France. With just a few short weeks left before their beloved festival, the whole town was abuzz with last minute preparations. The festival, which has been taking place in Cannes without interruption since 1946, is one of the most significant showcases of European cinema.


       After settling in (and being pleasantly surprised by the fact that our hotel had something called the ‘Charlize Theron Suite’) we headed out for a stroll on the La Croisette promenade. My entire body, which has been suffering a severe lack of vitamin D since arriving in the UK, was pink within the first ten minutes of exposure. But the fact that I could walk around with my legs out for the first time in months greatly outweighed any lingering blush.


         And what kind of excursion would this be if we didn’t mark the occasion with a giant pot of mussles and a bottle of rose? After all it would be rude not to adhere to their local customs… We ended up at the Gray d’Albion, a Mediterranean beach-side bistro that was begging to be featured in a music video for ‘Plage’ by Crystal Fighters. In fact, for my next visit to Cannes I intend to dance around town in nothing but a bathing suit and floppy hat wile steel drums play somewhere in the background. 



bracelets - C. Wonder 
skirt - Asos
top - Topshop
jacket - Uniqlo

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Caroline Mason: 20. Native New Yorker (and one time North Carolinian). Assistant to Derek Blasberg. Just a girl who is OCD about all things fashion, drinks way too much coffee, and has an affinity for late night talk shows and travel books. FIT class of 2016. Previously with Karla Otto PR, Lori Goldstein and Lester Garcia.

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