"We're very lucky girls, getting to work for her," I overheard a senior Net-a-Porter staffer say this morning at a press event, speaking about the retailer's founder and executive chairman, Natalie Massenet. Now that I've had the privilege of hearing Massenet and her colleague Lucy Yeomans talk to a small group of editors through their brand new print magazine, Porter -- which officially hits newsstands today -- the reasoning behind that sentiment is very evident.
Net-a-Porter produces a weekly digital magazine called The Edit that is 100 percent shoppable -- edited by Yeomans, former editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar UK -- but the dream of expanding their content and bringing it to print lingered. The idea came to Massenet and Yeomans after late-night drinks during Paris Fashion Week, and the resulting magazine is a celebration of the wordly Porter woman -- with a focus on everything from fashion and beauty to travel and tech -- and a masterful fusing of the old and the new.
Here's what Massenet and Yeomans had to say about their newest venture, and what readers can expect in issues to come.
A focus on typography: Yeomans said that she wanted to take the best of what traditional magazines have to offer and fuse it with the best of the new, digital age. Inspired by the magazines of the '50s and '60s, Porter developed a number of custom fonts -- the main type is aptly called "Porter" -- and plans to keep the captions short, letting the images do the talking. "The loopy 'e' in Porter is a cheeky nod to e-commerce," Yeomans said of the new font.
Avoiding trend-based fashion coverage: Yeomans was adamant that Porter have a strong point-of-view, focusing on the must-have pieces that defined the season, rather than a laundry list of trends. The main focus of the magazine is to arm women with the knowledge they need to get dressed by instructing them on how to wear each featured style with confidence. Porter plans to address not only how to wear something, but also how you feel when you wear it. In the first issue, for example, Alber Elbaz of Lanvin reveals how "to master the art of dressing up" through his style rules to live by.
Intimate portraits of incredible women: The editorials in Porter feature women from all over the world with standout style -- Eva Herzigova, Caroline de Maigret and Uma Thurman to name a few -- who can both inspire and instruct readers. The photography and interviews have a personal, intimate feel, and Massenet and Yeomans hope that readers come away from each story with a feeling of familiarity. In the first issue, for example, Tom Ford interviews Julianne Moore; Natalie Massenet interviews Angela Ahrendts and photographer Craig McDean shoots Uma Thurman with her baby daughter at home. Gisele, who is known for her glamazon persona, is captured in a much softer, more accessible light in her Porter spread. Finally, we learn in an essay that Miuccia Prada and Donatella Versace are great friends and often find strength through one another in the workplace.
Thought-provoking journalism: Yeomans comes from a features background, not a fashion one, so subjects like travel, international relations, war and business will be prominent in every issue. One of Yeomans' favorite pieces in issue one is an essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario, who was kidnapped in Libya in 2011.
Editorial Integrity: In the Inez and Vinoodh-shot portrait of Gisele that covers the first issue, the supermodel wears a red cardigan by Chanel -- a brand that Net-a-Porter does not carry. Since both Massenet and Yeomans agree that the magazine should be a beautiful curation of the very best pieces on the market -- and that they must retain editorial integrity -- they are aware that not every item in Porter will be shoppable through their site. "There's no quota we have to hit with Net-a-Porter products, and we know that having plenty of styling options is part of the creative process," Massenet explained. Porter will also be fully staffed with its own edit and publishing teams.
A state-of-the-art digital edition and concierge service: If a reader does want to purchase an item that is not carried on Net-a-Porter, the retailer's concierge service will help her track it down elsewhere. The digital edition of Porter, coming soon, also promises top-of-the-line innovation.
The first issue of Porter is available now for $8.99 at newsstands or $48 for a year subscription of six issues -- and trust me, you're going to love it.