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The Story of The Face

The Magazine that Changed Culture

Paul Gorman


A landmark publication offering a definitive overview of the rise and fall of the era-defining magazine

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Launched by NME editor and Smash Hits creator Nick Logan in 1980, The Face was Britain’s first youth magazine to present ‘youth subject matter’ beyond music alone. A strong voice of urban identity in the age of Thatcher, it rapidly became an icon of ‘style culture’, the benchmark for the very latest trends in music, fashion, photography and film.

The Story of The Face tracks the exciting highs and calamitous lows of the life of the magazine in two parts. Part one focuses on the rise of the magazine in the 1980s, highlighting its striking visual identity – embodied by Neville Brody’s era-defining graphic designs, Nick Knight’s dramatic fashion photography and the ‘Buffalo’ styling of Ray Petri. The Face introduced Spandau Ballet and Boy George; Wham! and Sade, and was an early showcase for the works of Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber and Cindy Sherman. In 1990, The Face featured a 15-year-old Kate Moss on her first cover campaign. Styled by Melanie Ward, The Face published a series of fresh-faced cover images, an antidote to the glossy Vogue models of the time. Other iconic cover stars included David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Prince, George Michael and Adam Ant.

Part two shows how in the 1990s, after surviving the Jason Donovan libel suit, the magazine heralded the post-acid house era of Britpop and Brit Art, shifting its focus from London to the regions. However, The Face met its eventual demise in 2004. With an introduction by Dylan Jones, The Story of The Face is an engaging behind-the-scenes look at the rise and fall of one of the most influential publications of the 80s and 90s.

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'This huge, rich book is a celebration not only of the style bible but of British pop culture in the late 20th century'

'A total treat'
Sunday Times

'A definitive, 352-page, “finally someone’s done it”, blockbuster book charting the rise and fall of “the magazine that changed culture”'
Creative Review

'A meticulous examination of The Face and its significance, from content and design to its wider influence'

'A long-overdue record of the iconic publication'

'A lighting bolt of nostalgia'
Financial Times

'[A] much-anticipated history'
Mr Porter

'Loud, vibrant and evocative'
It's Nice That

'Compendious and meticulously researched'

'Anyone interested in knowing the path along which British urban youth moved music, fashion, politics, the media and social issues to centre stage will find it here'
The Business of Fashion

BBC Culture

'A mighty tome'
Electronic Sound

'Packed with stunning imagery and fascinating insights'
Creative Bloq

'An exhaustive and exacting account of how The Face split pop culture open at its seams with stories and visuals that are still imitated today'
Interview Magazine

'This coffee-table book, with its hundreds of lavishly reproduced covers and innovative page layouts, does full justice to the “world’s best-dressed magazine”'
The Times Literary Supplement

'Paul Gorman’s weighty tome … reproduces the revolutionary graphics and images of his subject. This is accompanied by an exhaustive year-on-year account of the magazine’s development and production'
New Humanist

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with Jacket

Size: 30.1 x 24.3 cm

Extent: 352 pp

Illustrations: 379

Publication date: 9 November 2017

ISBN: 9780500293478

About the Author

Paul Gorman is a journalist, author and commentator on visual culture. He has written a number of books including The Look: Adventures in Rock & Pop Fashion, Reasons to be Cheerful: The Life & Work of Barney Bubbles and Derek Boshier: Rethink / Re-entry. He has staged a number of exhibitions in the UK and France, and is currently a writer at large for GQ.