fantastic man / the gentlewoman


for designboom’s ongoing questionnaire series with some of the world’s most distinguished print magazines,we assisted a talk on may 17 with gert jonkers, jop van bennekom and jeremy leslie at WHAT DESIGN CAN DO conference in amsterdam.



gert jonkers and jop van bennekom are the creators of FANTASTIC MAN, a semi-annual men’s fashion magazine which was launched in amsterdam in 2005. the magazine now sells 48,000 copies offers a new approach to the publishing industry: printed largely in black-and-white, it reports not only on fashion but also on everything that could interest a modern man, from the perfect handshake to writing 2009 they added a sister publication aimed at women, THE GENTLEWOMAN, in March 2010.






fantastic man / the gentlewoman

fantastic man / the gentlewoman






at the WDCD conference, gert and jop were interviewed by jeremy leslie, the london-based creative director specializing in editorial design. he runs  magCulture, providing consultancy and advice to publishers and other clients working with content for print and digital media.





 fantastic man / the gentlewoman a slide from the presentationimage © designboom




what are some key differences of FANTASTIC MAN  and other life style/ fashion magazines?


‘when we started other magazines were driven mostly by PR’s and commercial interests -
we wanted to be different, ‘correct’, we thought to put editorials first.
magazine’s are not really about people anymore. 
in a way FANTASTIC MAN is a fanzine, about people we really admire.’





how do you ensure that your content is always fresh?

‘we want to be more like a zine-magazine, we’re detail oriented, stubborn’.  


 why the name FANTASTIC MAN?

‘at the beginning it seemed to be a ridiculous title, it sounds a bit off, but we could not get rid of it.
the magazine talks a little bit in a dialect, a bit clumsy, some say ‘flowery’, exaggerated.
we like the idea of good manners — a proper way of dealing with the people around you.
and language is a way of formalize it.
we were interested in making the magazine very formal — but also to have a radical agenda.
there is lots of irony when we use formal titles. we call our interviewees mr. lang, mr. leslie …‘




are there overlapping topics in FANTASTIC MAN and THE GENTLEWOMAN?


‘we want to feature girls and guys that don’t undress but dress up.
most magazine are aspirational, we wish to tell stories about the men and women we like,
and these articles are quite elaborate, we use to have multiple interview sessions.’




 fantastic man / the gentlewoman mr. roberto bolle




what are the main themes of the most recent issue of FANTASTIC MAN and THE GENTLEWOMAN?how are they developed for each magazine?


‘the 17th issue of FANTASTIC MAN, for the spring & summer 2013 season, sees the popular artist mr. jeremy deller on the cover. the 46-year-old pop-culture enthusiast, who will represent the nation of great britain at the upcoming venice art biennale, discusses his infatuation with the manic street preachers and his genuine awe at being able to get away with what he does.he is joined by six equally spectacular men: the fabulously flexible ballet dancer mr. roberto bolle; the rigorous stylist mr. joe mc kenna; the sensible food activist mr. michael pollan; the fashion designer and luxury specialist mr. tomas maier; and messrs. nacho alegre and omar sosa, the barcelona-based duo behind interiors magazine apartamento. this issue of FANTASTIC MAN also sees a trip to the streets of tokyo where a fashionable mix of modernity with tradition is explored. it’s a fresh-faced issue filled with delightfully trifling ideas, sunny fashions and investigations into painfully relevant matters.’




fantastic man / the gentlewoman

 mr. roberto bolle




‘this seventh instalment of THE GENTLEWOMAN brings together a group of accomplished, dynamic and inspiring women: the friendly parisian fashion designer isabel marant, the superbly outspoken actress susan sarandon, enterprising herb farmer jekka mcvicar and, of course, the sensational cover star, the incandescent singer and performer beyoncé knowles-carter. for springtime glamour the magazine offers a plethora of handsome bags, splendid watches, pointed shoes and a portfolio of delicious clothes, for your visual delectation. a new perspective on the topic of manners is also introduced this season, and as always, insightful and charming conversations with some of the most fascinating women of today.’




fantastic man / the gentlewoman

 the megastar beyoncé knowles-carter




fantastic man / the gentlewoman

the megastar beyoncé knowles-carter




what are the main differences between THE GENTLE WOMAN, FANTASTIC MAN?


‘generally speaking, female magazines are pushing ‘desires’ about being sexy, looking good, it is a bit different for man magazines.both our magazines understand that men and women are identifying with beauty in a very different’s magazines often remain ‘niche’ and we think menswear is a fun playground. it is easier to subvert it.  it is not so much about handbags and so on, more on global understanding.’



fantastic man / the gentlewoman

the musician annie clarck



are there any magazines you like?


‘we like newspapers –  we read the new yorker, vanity fair, pin-up (a new architecture magazine), apartamento.’



fantastic man / the gentlewoman the recommendations in print



fantastic man / the gentlewoman

the recommendations in print



many print magazines are making the transition from print to online. what kind of measures (from publishing strategies to content) are you taking to increase the presence of FANTASTIC MAN, THE GENTLEWOMAN online?


‘in the digital sphere, fantastic man launched a website with daily content in 2009. since we come out twice a year, we started the daily recommendation (running 5 days a week -it is nice to have two days off – the weekends).today’s tip is ‘cooked’ by michael pollan, in which pollan makes a convincing case against the ready meal.other digital goings-on at FANTASTIC MAN, are on facebook and twitter.’




 fantastic man / the gentlewoman gert jonkers and jop van bennekom interviewd by jeremy leslieimage © designboom




gert jonkers and jop van bennekom

jonkers and van bennekom met each other in 1997 while working for Blvd, a sophisticated dutch cultural and lifestyle magazine. together the two started their famous gay culture magazine Butt in 2001, a frank and humorous ‘fagazine’ as they called it, which was an instant success. FANTASTIC MAN, later followed by women’s magazine THE GENTLEWOMAN and COS magazine (for collection of style), is more stylish and philosophical, but the basic approach is the same, defined by wit and interest in people.

before becoming a journalist, gert jonkers, the son of a preacher, sang for a while in a country band, but he was more at ease writing about music. he worked for nieuwe revu magazine until becoming editor-in-chief of Blvd.

jop van bennekom graduated as a graphic designer with the launch of RE-Magazine as a new form of personal communication. the experimental magazine was highly acclaimed and existed until 2004.