The main dilemma of VMan revolves around it’s transition from biannual to quarterly. In it’s previous incarnation VMan provided an almost unprecedented bang for its buck with each jam packed issue. As a quarterly the goods are spread slightly a bit thinner and the impact is lessened. The content is intriguing but there is less of it and in this current Fall edition there is a curious mix of the au courant and the absurdist.
The articles run the gamut from being vaguely passe to culled from the pages of a teen weekly. Gossip Girl hearthrob Chace Crawford graces the cover while the stars of the melodramatic vampire phenomenon Twilight are featured within. Even with the calculated youth appeal of those subjects VMan misses the bar ever so slightly. Ed Westwick’s sartorially minded lothario Chuck Bass would have been better suited for a fashion profile and if they wanted vampiric drama a look into the equally hyped yet more adult minded True Blood could have been an option.
Editorially the issue centers around the work of Mario Testino, whose gift for capturing color and movement are put to good use in a slew of mini-editorials. Whether he is turning Kelly Kopen into a wane schoolboy or making Garrett Neff into a later day Errol Flynn his technique works well in short format – many of the editorials are less than 5 pages. It would have been nice to see a bit more of the less omnipresent photographers (Richard Burbridge provides a killer editorial based around one of a kind pieces) whose work makes up the first half of the issue but all things in time. Testino is a serviceable ringleader and he puts his best foot forward with this issue – with the exception of the main editorial wherein Chace Crawford’s leading man looks are rendered null and void beneath pomade and unfortunate 50s styling.
Serviceable is an fitting word for the issue as a whole – while it may not be the wallop of VMan‘s previous issues it certainly has charm and eye-candy. At the very least one gets to stare at the amusingly low brow portfolio of Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. Their hot pink costumes and teased hair remind us that even a minor issue of VMan is still miles away from the overt and downright stale Maxim-mized aesthetic that pervades the men’s magazine market. With a lesser magazine the pictures would have been nowhere near as charming.