Riposte is a new women’s magazine promising intelligent editorial and beautiful design. We spoke to editor Danielle Pender and creative director Shaz Madani about the title, which launches next week.
In the women’s magazine market, glossy fashion titles and gossip-based weeklies still dominate the newsstands. There are few alternatives for women who’d rather read about art or science than celebrity culture, and those that do exist are often poorly designed or focus on just one topic. Riposte, however, is hoping to fill that gap.
Described as ‘a smart magazine for women’, Riposte is a title concerned with style and substance. Published twice yearly, each issue presents five ideas, four meetings, three features, two essays and one icon piece, profiling women working in tech, music, design, science and visual arts.
Editor Danielle Pender, a curator at KK Outlet, came up with the idea for Riposte a year ago after growing frustrated with the limited content on offer in other women’s titles.
“I found I was buying a lot of art/design magazines and more male orientated titles as the breadth of their content was more interesting. I felt like there was a need for a women’s magazine which featured fascinating women and a broader range of topics,” she says.
When conducting market research, Pender spoke to a lot of women who felt the same way and who had grown tired of titles that focussed on celebrities’ appearances and love lives. “I think there has been a sea change coming for a while – people aren’t stupid and I think they’re bored of reading negative and formulaic content,” she adds.
The first issue boasts a fascinating line-up: subjects include Francoise Mouly, the editor co-founder of Raw magazine, Nelly Ben Hayoun, founder of the International Space Orchestra and set designer Es Devlin as well as musicians, DJs and computer programmers.
“The aim is to profile incredible women who do incredible things across a range of sectors and disciplines – not to big them up in an over the top way, just to let their achievements speak for themselves,” says Pender. “We’re not interested in that world of big name celebrities and interviews full of media trained responses where you end up finding out nothing of any meaning,” she adds.
Riposte’s name is inspired by a line in Maximo Park song, The Coast is Always Changing. “It’s [also] our response to what is currently on offer and we’d like it to be a source of talking points,” Pender explains.
In its look and feel, the magazine is more like an arts journal than a women’s weekly – cover stars appear on the back instead of the front, which simply lists the names of those featured in the issue.
“Riposte in its meaning is rebellious and provocative, so we wanted to try something that was a bit challenging,” explains Madani. “More importantly, we wanted the women we feature on our cover to stand out for who they are and what they have to say, rather than what they look like or what they wear. It’s a risk to not have an image on the front cover – we all know images sell – but we hope we can capture people’s imaginations first with words,” she says.
While Riposte has a structured content format, Madani was keen for title’s design to remain fluid: there are no chapter or section openers, but paper stock changes and colours to signal a change in content. A 16-page visual monograph has been inserted in between the meetings and features sections to break up the longer articles.
“I wanted to create something elegant that had reason and meaning. But it was important that these attributes didn’t make the magazine feel too stiff or exclusive…we kept stylistic interventions and typographic tricks to a minimum and instead focused on creating simple spreads that don’t overshadow the content and allow the images and words the space to breath,” she adds.
While Riposte features some beautiful full-bleed photography (and illustrations by Le Gun and HelloVon) none of its subjects have been Photoshopped, in keeping with the title’s mantras of openness and honesty. “There’s minimal if any styling, and settings are personal to the people we photograph – you can take a beautiful photo of an older woman without trying to make her look younger or like someone else,” says Pender.
Riposte’s colour palette mixes yellow, pale blue and coral with plenty of white space, and the colour of each cover will be dictated by the back cover image, explains Madani.
The title typeface is “a very slight alteration” of Gerard Unger’s Amerigo, which has also been used throughout the first section of the magazine. “We’ve removed some of the curves on the tapered strokes for sharper, more chiseled like serifs…This has been balanced with a softer more friendly sans serif. I love this sans font for all its small quirky imperfections that give it so much personality,” Madani adds.
While we haven’t yet seen the finished product – the magazine isn’t out until November 27 – Riposte looks like it will be a refreshing, intelligent and beautiful read. It’s unlike any women’s magazine we know of and while it’s subjects are all female, Pender hopes it will appeal to men as much as women.
“The tone is quite neutral – it isn’t focused on gender politics. We’ve had a lot of pre-orders from men and I’m really happy about that – an interesting person is an interesting person regardless of their gender,” she adds.
For more information or to pre-order a copy, see ripostemagazine.com