Almost absolutely Fabulous

It’s been five months in the gestation, but now Sunday is no longer Sunday, it’s Fabulous. Seventy-six glossy pages and a neat handbag format replace the 20-something-year-old News of the World supplement Sunday. And not before time.

The only homage to red top in this magazine is the logo. From start to finish it’s a class act, but then you wouldn’t expect anything less from editorial director Jane Johnson (also deputy editor of News of the World) and editor Mandy Appleyard. Both have previous on Emap’s Closer, which isn’t a million miles away from their latest creation, as well as First and, in Mandy’s case, Grazia.

They are clearly aiming for a younger audience – although Mystic Meg has kept her place in the squad, along with Dr Hilary Jones and Jamie Oliver, but that’s where any similarity to Sunday ends.

In Fabulous’s debut issue, Kelly Osbourne sets the celebrity tone on a very strong and defiant cover image, shot by Bryan Adams, and follows through with an I-couldn’t-give-a-toss-what-you-think-about-me Q&A.

Celebrity crops up throughout with a specs picture story featuring Chloe Sevigny, Cate Blanchett, Joss Stone and Jaime Winston. Dr Hillary dispenses headache advice to Tina Hobley, Suzanne Shaw shows us her beautiful body, while Anna Ryder Richardson invites us into her beautiful home. OK, so maybe it isn’t rocket science, but who wants that with the News of the World?

Fashion is bold, indulgent, young – and appealing to mass without being crass. One image per page on the opening story is a far cry from the catalogue-style we’re used to seeing at the cheaper end of the supplements market. High street prices are good, but a £95 dress from Topshop might just be a little too fabulous.

Real-life really hits the spot – from the gold-digging women, to the diet-pill addict, to the weight-loss woman whose husband ran off with her mum. They’re all topics we’ve seen and read before but attractively laid out in Fabulous – and here a word must go to creative director, Mark Hayman, who’s done a brilliant job. The layouts are clean, navigable and the black, white and red palette throughout is very strong.

It’s not all positive though. One of the much-trumpeted magazine’s USPs is the Click To Buy label on various items, which directs you to the Fabulous website where for some reason it changes its label to Click & Buy (call me picky if you like) what you’ve just seen.

The anticipation is short-lived – there are only three options to choose from: a raincoat from Boden, a blouse from Wallis (which isn’t – it’s from Evans), and a £19 top from Boden, which also isn’t – it’s £35 on the website. These may just be teething problems – there is a wide selection of on-line clothes to choose from but very little that cross-refers with what’s on the printed page.

I also found Russell Brand an odd choice of opening columnist. I appreciate he’s popular but he’s been everywhere – in more ways than one – and he’s only got one topic. Himself. And I’ve had him up to here, if you’ll pardon the expression.

My only other dislike is another bloke – the Toxic Bachelor. He’s slept with everyone (so he tells us), and now we’re going to be the grateful beneficiaries of his male perspective on women. Along with telling us that our ‘opinions are as sexy as syphilis”, he also confesses to being ‘perennially single”. No kidding!

When Grazia launched, it changed the face of women’s weekly magazines. Fabulous is set to do the same in the Sunday red-top supplement market. Gone are the ads for painted plates and in come Max Factor, M&S and Boots.

It’s not absolutely fabulous – yet – but it is pretty damn good.

Terry Tavner is the former editor of She, Woman’s Own and Chat

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