With news that the Face is relaunching this month, some of its former staff – including Nick Knight, Sheryl Garratt and Neville Brody – tell the story of the magazine through their favourite covers
The Face is back! The magazine, one of the most revered of all time, was set up by the former NME editor Nick Logan to chronicle youth culture after punk: fashion, clubbing, music, film, politics and more. Art directed by Neville Brody, it was the first magazine to combine radical design and world-class photography with sharp, in-depth reportage from the frontlines of 80s subcultures, from Sade and Leigh Bowery to the New York vogueing scene. Image-makers including the stylist Ray Petri would synthesise the energy and excitement of the times into agenda-setting fashion stories that collided streetwear and high fashion, menswear and womenswear. Before long, the Face became a global byword for cool, and a lifeline for readers dreaming of hanging out in the Wag club but stuck miles away in the sticks.
While the Face is still sometimes referred to as an “80s style bible”, under the editorship of Sheryl Garratt and then Richard Benson in the 90s it arguably got even better. An image of Kate Moss photographed by Corinne Day announced the new decade’s arrival as decisively as the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays appearing on Top of the Pops. This spirit of starry-eyed, post-rave optimism that swept Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall was captured by writers such as Gavin Hills, whose dispatches from Berlin, Kosovo and Angola were unique and unmissable. Other writers such as Chris Heath and Miranda Sawyer would bring a new sense of mischief and intimacy to interviews with Face-friendly stars ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio to Jarvis Cocker, while photographers including David Sims and Sean Ellis created fashion imagery that prized pushing boundaries over flogging clothes – a spirit shared by contemporaneous designers such as Alexander McQueen.