Fantastic Man's favourite profiles
The magazine's co-founders talk us through their perfect picks including Tom Ford, Bryan Ferry and David Walliams
Over the past ten years, Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom, the editors and co-founders of Fantastic Man, have pretty much changed the way we view masculinity. The magazine, which presents mature men in thoughtful, long profiles, written in an intelligent, witty manner, accompanied by clothes shoots that favour a more sincere sense of style over faddish, seasonal trends, helped establish an assured, adult male figure within the public imagination.
But super smart though Jop and Gert are, they couldn't have done all this on their own, of course. So we sat them down and asked them which public figures - all featured in our great new anthology Fantastic Man: Men of Great Style and Substance - truly sum up the Fantastic Man look and feel, and how they actually went about getting their men.
Gert: “Early on, before we had published the first issue, we had a meeting with a stylist we wanted to work with. We had to explain to him what the magazine was going to be about. We said it would feature people like Rupert Everett. He said “Rupert Everett? He’s a friend of mine! He lives around the corner.” Five minutes later, Rupert Everett walks in. What an appearance! Just the way he holds his body. I think he was wearing a tracksuit or something. He said “What are you talking about? Oh, OK, I’ll do it.””
Jop: “He was still living in Soho then. I think he lives somewhere else now.”
Gert: “That was done by the British journalist Charlie Porter, who for a long time was our deputy editor. He really got along well with David Walliams. He even knew him a little bit, because David would show up at certain media events. Anyway, Charlie hung out with David at Supernova Heights, the house Walliams bought from Noel Gallagher, and Alasdair Mclellan took amazing pictures. We would have put him on the cover of the magazine, had Bryan Ferry not been on the cover.”
Gert: “I was a diehard Bryan Ferry fan As a child I took [Ferry's 1976 album] Let’s Stick Together to the hairdressers and said I want to look that.” (Ferry sports a flick and a pencil thin moustache on the cover. A red tie and white jacket complete the mid-Seventies Mexican druglord does Marseille mash up).
Jop: “I’m not. He’s a bit too early for me.”
Gert: “Anyway, it took a while to get him, but it was worth it. We’ve published thousands of upon thousands of words now, but one of my favourite passages of text ever printed in Fantastic Man was Paul Flynn’s description of how Bryan Ferry shaves. I always use that as an example of what we want from a profile. You know, don’t give us the Wikipedia page. We can look it up.”
Dr Fredric Brandt
Gert: “He’s an American doctor, who recently passed away. Is he a plastic surgeon?”
Jop: “No, he’s a dermatologist, he shapes faces. He’s worked on Madonna, and produces what he calls ‘the new, new face’. He sort of sculpts people’s features and does injections.”
Gert: “He was really precise about where he injects stuff like Botox to get the right effect.”
Jop: “It was important to us not to start with a certain moral stance, or to make him look ridiculous. We wanted the readers to go with the man and see what he does and not judge. We ended up producing a completely different story from what, say, the Guardian would publish.”
Jop: “He was a no-brainer. He helped support Butt magazine (Jop and Gert's first magazine) – he was the first advertiser, back when he was at Gucci. Then, when he launched his own men’s tailoring it just seemed perfect.”
Gert: “I remember being at a Rufus Wainwright concert in Amsterdam, where I got this email from Tom Ford’s people, cancelling the profile. That was such an annoying thing to happen. We went back to them, and they said, he really has no time. We discussed this, and it turned out that he realised the whole profile would take him a lot of time, because he wanted to do it well. Eventually he agreed and he turned his whole house upside down, did lots of costume changes and really worked at it.”
Jop: “Yeah, it was big production.”
Gert: “He is an old friend. We’ve known him for a long time, and he gave us very good access. We spent time with him at home, cooking lunch, and later we met up in Milan. I mean, that’s very rare, very old fashioned, you don’t get that much anymore.”
Read all these profiles and more in our new book, Fantastic Man: Men of Great Style and Substance.