In Pictures: The Changing Face of Cult Magazine ‘The Face’

Ahead of their September relaunch, we look back through past issues of the legendary style guide

What are you going to wear to the club tonight? In the 1980s and 90s, there was one magazine with all the answers. Launched in May 1980, The Face was a monthly music paper reporting on fashion, politics, club culture and style. It was conceived by journalist Nick Logan to fill a gap in the market for a well-designed music magazine with quality writing. Its readership peaked at 128,000 in October 1995, when Robbie Williams (not included here) graced the cover, but by 2004, like so many other publications, it folded in a slowing print market. Now, in 2019, it’s back for the digital age under new ownership. Ahead of the first issue in September, we take a look at some of the most memorable content from its history. 

Steve Strange and a friend at Billy's 1978. The Face, vol. 1 no. 7, 1980. Courtesy: ©Nick Logan/The Face Archive; photograph: Derek Ridgers 

 

In November 1980, The Face published an article titled ‘The Cult With No Name’ on a burgeoning nightlife scene in London’s West End, known as the ‘New Romantics’ or ‘Blitz Kids’. The decision to cover an underground youth movement marked a shift away from conventional music reportage. 

Krafterk, The Face, vol. 1 no. 23, 1982. Courtesy: ©Nick Logan/The Face Archive

Kraftwerk, The Face, vol. 1 no. 23, 1982. Courtesy: ©Nick Logan/The Face Archive

Between 1981–86, art director Neville Brody was instrumental in creating the magazine’s distinctive constructivist-inspired visual identity. His first assignment was to layout an interview between former editor Steve Taylor and Kraftwerk’s elusive leader Ralph Hütter. 

Felix Howard, The Face, vol. 2, no 59, 1985. Courtesy: © Nick Logan/The Face Archive; photograph: Jamie Morgan 

Simon de Montford, The Face, vol. 1, no. 59, 1985. Courtesy: © Nick Logan/The Face Archive; photograph: Jamie Morgan 

A collection of photographers, designers and artists popularized a hybrid look that came to define the 1980s. Known as ‘Buffalo’ style, the fashion trend combined different casual and formal elements and sought to challenge accepted ideas of gender presentation. 

Kate Moss, The Face, vol. 2, no. 22, 1990. Courtesy: Nick Logan/The Face Archive; photograph: Corinne Day  

The Face helped launch the careers of models, designers, photographers and writers including Alexander McQueen and Juergen Teller. In July 1990, a sixteen-year-old Kate Moss first appeared in print photographed by Corinne Day on a beach in Camber Sands, UK. 

The Face, vol. 2, no. 44, 1992. Courtesy: ©Nick Logan/The Face Archive

Gilber and George, Seen, 1989 in The Face, vol. 2, no. 44, 1992. Courtesy: ©Nick Logan/The Face Archive

The magazine reported on social and political issues such as drug culture, activist causes and international conflicts. The ‘Love sees no colour’ cover of May 1992 featured Boy George above the lines: ‘FIGHT BACK! don’t let the bigots grind you down.’

The Face, vol. 3, no. 41, 2000. Courtesy: © Nick Logan/The Face Archive 

The new issue of The Face launches in September 2019 and an archive of past content is available to view @the____archive

Sean Burns is an artist, writer and frieze editorial trainee based in London, UK. @sf_burns

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