HEADLINER: Magazine junkie plans to hit the editorial heights with GQ - Dylan Jones has taken the helm at GQ. Anna Griffiths tracks his inexorable rise

Admitting to feeling a little ’rough around the edges’ after hosting a dinner the previous night, the new, besuited editor of GQ looks particularly angular against the stark white setting of The Hempel. Dylan Jones, who is described by his former colleague and editor of The Independent, Simon Kelner, as being ’so close to the cutting edge it hurts - the word Zeitgeist could have been invented for Dylan,’ is wearily undertaking his first profile interview - presumably the first of many.

Admitting to feeling a little ’rough around the edges’ after

hosting a dinner the previous night, the new, besuited editor of GQ

looks particularly angular against the stark white setting of The

Hempel. Dylan Jones, who is described by his former colleague and editor

of The Independent, Simon Kelner, as being ’so close to the cutting edge

it hurts - the word Zeitgeist could have been invented for Dylan,’ is

wearily undertaking his first profile interview - presumably the first

of many.



His dry sense of humour and sober apparel could not be more at odds with

the style of the previous editor of GQ, James Brown, a reformed party

animal who abruptly left the magazine after a clash with management over

some of the magazine’s editorial content. Kelner observes of Jones:

’He’s very serious about a job, but he’s funny and does let himself go.

It’s only his suits that are buttoned up.’



The laddish stance that GQ began to adopt under Brown, bringing it

perilously close to the amorphous mass of men’s titles such as FHM,

Maxim and Loaded, is to be reined in, although Jones is at pains to

point out that curvaceous babes will still be found gracing the

magazine’s pages. ’Women are a vital component of men’s magazines -

perhaps there may be fewer in my version of GQ, but the photos will be a

little bit better.’



Although he’s not exactly jumping up and down in his chair when he says

it, Jones says of his new task: ’I’m really fired up about it.’ His

magazine experience is unquestionable, given that just two years after

graduating from art school he became editor of the then-hip magazine,

i-D, five years later became editor of Arena, and some time after that

was made group editor of Wagadon. He also brings with him a background

in newspaper journalism, stepping into the GQ post from The Sunday

Times, where he held the grandly abstract title of ’editor at

large’.



Conde Nast’s managing director, Nicholas Coleridge, who describes Jones

as ’a guru of the men’s market’, called Jones from a Greek island to

offer him the job. Jones observes dryly: ’It was like something out of a

novel.’ Coleridge alighted on Jones after reading his letter outlining

what he would do with GQ if he were editor. ’I thought they were

excellent ideas and I found myself nodding as I read them,’ Coleridge

says. ’He’s got a mix of both popular culture and real culture, which is

a compelling combination.’



Jones is keen to bring in contributors from the broadsheets to sharpen

up the editorial. ’There’s a great magazine in there screaming to get

out. I want to inject newspaper values into the magazine.’ But he has no

intention of making the title dull. ’I’m not going to turn it into a

literary magazine. I’m not waving a flag for a genteel, grown-up men’s

magazine.’



Notably, Jones is rather fond of Playboy, as Kelner reveals. ’He’s the

man who in his loft has every issue of Playboy since 1960. He has

thousands of vintage magazines, because he is a magazine junkie.’



At the age of 12, Jones set his sights on art school, a dream he

fulfilled aged 16, when he took a course in graphic design and

photography at the Chelsea School of Art. It was there that he had his

first brush with magazines, creating an ironic photo love magazine for

one of his degree projects.



After graduating, Jones spent two years ’taking photos in nightclubs’

and absorbing the London scene before taking on the editorship of

i-D.



His art degree has its uses: ’It makes it easier to order designers

around,’ he observes.



Jones’s prescription for GQ, which, in the last ABC audit had its first

upturn in circulation for a while, is to instigate change gradually.

’The magazine certainly doesn’t need a relaunch and a redesign. Elements

of the magazine will change.’ In terms of the magazine’s readership,

Jones has a clear goal. ’It has alienated the top end of its readership

and one of my jobs is to get them back. We’ll lose some of the readers

at the bottom end, but it certainly won’t be elitist.’



He describes American Vogue as ’the most amazing magazine in the world’

and if he can bring GQ anywhere close to its stance, he will be

(quietly) pleased.



So we can expect to see GQ keep flaunting a style badge. This is, after

all, the man whose wedding to Marie Claire fashion director, Sarah

Walter, two years ago prompted a two-page spread in The Daily Telegraph

with the billing ’fashion wedding of the year’. The bride wore Vivienne

Westwood, the groom Richard James (that’s ’Savile Row’s trendiest

tailor’, according to The Telegraph).



I just hope he hasn’t noticed my Marks & Sparks handbag ...



THE JONES FILE

1983

i-D, editor

1987

The Face, contributing editor

1988

Arena, editor

1992

The Observer, associate editor

1993

The Sunday Times Magazine, associate editor

1995

Wagadon, group editor

1997

The Sunday Times, editor at large

1999

GQ, editor



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