But the country has rarely been a hot bed for indie press–one tends to look across the Channel for the kind of zine with that raw, homemade quality.
Nevertheless, things seem to be changing.
Chalk it up to the recession, the increasing control of advertising over leading publications, and the rise in online readership: There’s a new a new desire for independent content in Paris.
These new indie mags are almost entirely advertisement-free and usually the passion projects of creative folks with high paying day jobs. Printed in small runs and distributed in a few select boutiques, they are more like a rare edition of a book than a glossy. (If you’re in Paris, find ‘em at Ofr.)
“Today’s Parisian fashion audience is extremely sophisticated, and is perfectly able to spot a piece of product placement or a compromise to please an advertiser,” said Olivia Da Costa, founder and creative director of Please!, a bi-annual fashion and jewelry journal. “There is a real interest and respect of independent fashion press, our shoots get lent the same brands and jewelry as for Vogue,” she said, adding that she chose to have the magazine in the English language “to engage with a worldwide, niche, in-the-know public.”
On the hipster front, Novembre magazine is a Franco-Swiss bi-annual publication that was initially dedicated to Swiss creativity, but is today based between the two countries. Its latest issue artfully mixes 3.0 aesthetics, East London street style turned on its head, and ancient French artisan interviews. Mais oui!
In a more Roitfeldian spirit, Exhibition magazine is a sexy Parisian annual glossy, with a penchant for raunchy, provocation features. Think indie actress Roxane Mesquida in Geisha-inspired gear, or macro nude photography. (In case you didn’t know, ‘exhibition’ is also French for ‘flashing.’)
As for Double, the horizontally formatted publication has the not-exactly-original aim of splitting its content between art and fashion. Features range from an editorial starring Kirsten Scott Thomas dressed up as Amy Winehouse to Bambou Gainsbourg posing in a cast right after a minor accident.
In some cases, the magazines are also the personal projects of directors of more established magazines: Jacob Wildschiødtz, art director of Love, spends his free time on Dutch-Anglo-French magazine Rika and Xavier Encinas, Self-Service’s art director, dedicates his weekends to London-Parisian magazine Under the Influence.
“This is about expressing something free of compromise” said Da Costa, “and in a recession, freedom is the ultimate luxury.”