RED: AN EXPERT’S VIEW: The mag with a mission is fine, says Claire Beale, but it’s a pity about the cover

My first thought on picking up Red was, where’s the clear-eyed, dewy-skinned pubescent I’m used to seeing on the front of my women’s magazines?

My first thought on picking up Red was, where’s the clear-eyed,

dewy-skinned pubescent I’m used to seeing on the front of my women’s

magazines?



Gorgeous as she is, Red’s first cover girl, Carre Otis, is a little past

the bloom of youth. Quite as it should be for a magazine designed to

celebrate the joys of middle youth (that’s thirtysomething to the less

squeamish), but for all my firm beliefs that women improve with age, Red

has quite a task on its hands as it attempts to shift attitudes about

women’s magazines.



It’s a pity, too, about the cover’s drab use of colour (pink) and

typeface.



Still, once inside it’s obvious Red has a clear agenda. So many of the

writers seem to have been briefed to discuss what middle youth is that

the whole idea becomes very tiring very quickly. Still, this is the

first issue and Red is on a mission, so I persevered.



The first column, ’21st Century Woman’, a dreary drizzle through the

difficulties of taking twins to the park, gets the editorial off with a

downbeat tone, and sets the pace for think-pieces which are neither

witty nor particularly well written.



Fortunately, laughably thin pieces such as ’What Stars Eat’ are

compensated for by meaty features like the war correspondent Maggie

O’Kane’s diary of a foreign assignment and a fascinating look inside

women’s prisons.



But it’s the fashion, lifestyle, beauty and cooking in the second half

of the book where Red really scores. Affordable and beautifully shot,

they lend the magazine an indulgent but accessible feel that means I’ll

hold on to it for longer than the usual half-hour tube ride. If only the

cover looked good on my coffee table.



Claire Beale, basking in the bloom of middle youth, is Campaign’s media

editor.



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