A women's magazine void of celebrities, fashion or housekeeping tips is harder to find than a taxi in downtown New York City on a pouring Saturday night. Aiming to change the status quo is the new biannual Riposte Magazine, which launched last Wednesday in London. The word "riposte" means to give a quick response to something (it's also a term that fencers use to describe a quick attack following a parry). "The name kind of sums up what the magazine is: it's a response to what is currently on offer...to what is going on at the minute in women's publishing and also a riposte in wider terms to current affairs, etc. It's meant to be something which people react to, to create talking points," says founder and Editor-in-Chief Danielle Pender, who also is chief curator at KesselsKramer's graphic arts-focused gallery and bookshop KK Outlet in Shoreditch.
Each issue will follow a set format of "five ideas, four meetings, three features, two essays and one icon." Ideas range from fashion technology company Studio XO's founder Nancy Tilbury on developments in wearable technology (a favorite topic at CH) to Nong Poonsukwattana, who built a street food empire in Portland entirely from scratch, by selling only one thing on the menu: khao man gai. In fact, some faces might even be familiar as more than a few have been previously mentioned in CH, from Kelly Angood's DIY pinhole cameras to Nelly Ben Hayoun's La-Z-Boy rocket ship simulator—which is why we're particularly excited to see more stories, achievements and provocative questions from like-minded women come to print.
The four interviews in this issue show an incredibly diverse group of inspirational women: experience designer and the "Willy Wonka of design and science" Nelly Ben Hayoun (who has also directed the International Space Orchestra), co-founder of alternative comics magazine Raw and current art editor of The New Yorker, Françoise Mouly; lead singer of American surf rock duo Best Coast, Bethany Cosentino; and award-winning set designer Es Devlin who has done everything from the 2012 London Olympic Closing Ceremony to international operas to world tours for Lady Gaga and Kanye West. And that's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of content, which draws not only from the present, such as female music producers today, but also the past, like two of the earliest computer programmers Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper.
"I had been thinking about the idea for a while," Pender tells CH. "I wanted to create something aimed at women, featuring smart content with the aesthetic of an arts/design publication. I really felt there was a place for a title which celebrated interesting women and let their achievements speak for themselves. I was really inspired by an Intelligent Life magazine cover [in 2012] where they led with an un-Photoshopped image of Cate Blanchett. She looked incredible but she looked her age, she looked real. You never see women looking like that in the media and it struck me as really refreshing."
Creative director Shaz Madani took notes from old National Geographic magazines to create a minimal and restrained layout for Riposte—the cover alone immediately grabs attention as it lacks any image whatsoever. "We've spent a lot of time thinking about the design, the layouts and our cover," says Pender. "We decided on a bold text-based front cover which focuses on the women in the magazine and what they have to say, rather than what they look like. It is their words and actions first and foremost which we admire—not their body or looks."
Pender finishes: "There are some really great magazines out there and there are some really terrible ones. I don't think we have all the answers but I hope that as Riposte develops we offer some interesting content [and] showcase fascinating women to an audience who is a little bored with what is on offer."
The first issue of Riposte Magazine is available for £10 (around $16) and can be shipped worldwide. Visit their website to purchase and to learn more about what's inside its 128 pages.
Images courtesy of Riposte Magazine