Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Magazines in the Spotlight: Encens

Regular readers may have noticed that it has been quite some time since our last 'Magazine In The Spotlight' post but this is not want of trying. I have been frequently and somewhat furiously finger flicking my way through the racks at newsagents and bookstores far and wide before leaving empty handed. Of course, I have encountered the usual suspects but for one reason or another these have failed to truly excite me and therefore warrant a post. I relayed my woes during a recent shopping jaunt at b Store and thankfully proprietor Matthew Murphy stepped in and offered the name of a title that had previously been unknown to me, Encens. His enthusiasm for the title was infectious. As I left the store with my purchases I instantly began my search of Soho for the publication which came to fruition at the ever reliable Compton News. Since finding it I have struggled to put it down which is no easy task given the weight of this style beast. 

Encens number twenty six stands apart from previous issues as it signals their departure from the bi-annual format. Now published once yearly, the publication has taken on several properties which would classify it closer to a book. Firstly, the thickness and hardcover bound, its qualities as an object are just as powerful as the visual stories inside. During his Fashion Pioneers talk with Imran Ahmed, Jefferson Hack highlighted the growing importance of specialisation and what visionary science fiction author and futurist William Gibson terms mooks: “a hybrid of a book and a magazine where stories can be told in depth with beautiful photography.” Encens is undoubtedly more 'mook' than magazine. It is an exploration of the two editors, Samuel Drira and Sybille Walter, aesthetics and something of a manifesto against disposable fashion. Stylist Drira and photographer Walter share a passion for the drape and fall of clothing, a subtle tailoring and a softness of finish and form. Throughout this weighty hardback, there is an incessant delivery of their vision as opposed to a summation of the trends or season based investigations that we have come to expect from style magazines. This vision is contained is shared within everything from an interview with Yves Saint Laurent taken from Vogue in November 1983 to a celebration of the menswear design talent of Damir Doma and Kris Van Assche. Despite the temptation to scan every single page for you, I've decided to pick out a few highlights. Let the images inspire...

Moving back and forth from the present to the past, the editorials and features have a timeless quality. Fashion magazines tend to constantly strive forward. Even though the latest collections may have been influenced by styles or characters from yesteryear, these influences tend to be ignored. Magazines are blinkered to the past. Encens however, takes a fond gaze at the aesthetics of the past which still should have clout today. The publications stands for an independent and long terms approach. Neither Dirra nor Walter are obsessed with clothes of the moment. For them, the best fashion has three common denominators - simplicity and style but also a sense of timelessness, the capacity to either be or become a classic. In one feature they celebrate Kris Van Assche and Damir Doma, declaring their designs to be menswear at its best. A fluid silhouette, void of the typical restriction of menswear, stripped of the 'for men only' labels. Both have a desire to render the ready made boxes of menswear, sharing ideals of versatility and a nomadic existence. The following quote from Per Spook in another feature echoes these ideal...

"One of my golden rules is to be at ease in a garment. Men hate feeling confined. Likewise, discretion, rather than disguise. A man's wardrobe must have its own personality, yet not be recognisable. I have always preferred the classicism of a great simplicity, natural materials, cuts that are worn loose, and since my clothes do not have linings, they remain light and supple." Per Spook.

Encens' relevance exists in the very fact that it is not grounded in any sort of fast fashion, instead quite the opposite. Although seasonality is expected in fashion, I respect and admire anyone who turns against those implemented measures of time. I heartily recommend that you add this publication to your reading list, consider it pleasurable homework.


Anonymous said...

love it
do you know were i can buy a copy

Rosa and Carlotta: Illustrated-Moodboard said...

I saw this magazine/book on Style Bubble and I must say it looks amazing! Do you know where can I buy it?

check out our fashion illustrations at :)

Matthew Spade said...

seems like you got a good recomendation here, images look top and 2thumbs up for the book-ness of it. i picked up 10men and another man this month

10men - boring
another man - brilliant shoots

Sophia said...

Just got my copy. I have been getting Encens for the last 2 years and it is worth the high price.

joy said...

I want to believe that last picture is Johnny Depp but it's probably not. Encens has been able to capitualte men's style and almost never misses from their point of reference/ theme/ etc. For that they should win an award. Several other publications (men and women) should take note.

Brandon said...

Hmmm I have to find a New York stockist. Steve you may have just got be back to reading mags... We shall see.

Style Salvage Steve said...

Anonymous: Where are you based? Encens has lots of London stockists and is available in Colette in Paris.
Mat: 10Men has lost its way since Richard left. It is such a shame because I used to love it!
Sophia: I might go on a hunt for back issues.
Joy: Agreed on both counts but it isn't actually Johnny Depp.
Brandon Acton Bond: I heartily recommend this. It is perfect for you!


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