Kate Lanphear, the venerated fashion editor-turned-EIC of a kinder, gentler Maxim, is leaving the magazine after a little more than a year, reports The Cut. In her tenure there, she tipped the editorial direction towards a more equal playing field, removing the magazine’s lurid depiction of women and replacing them with higher fashion, more intellectually sexy portrayals. (Never forget, for instance, Taylor Swift’s eyebrow-y wet look cover.)
Per a press release, Maxim publisher Kevin Martinez said the title would be “taking the next step in our evolution and will continue to upgrade... across fashion and luxury,” a goal that was expressed last week in a statement made to WWD. The magazine was then undergoing its second redesign, and its readership had tanked over the last few months. In that piece, Martinez told WWD:
“It’s the Wild West out there and whomever is the boldest guy is the sheriff,” Martinez said. “Maxim is the wild card.”
With dramatic effect, he unsheathed the hefty magazine from a folder, and threw it down on the table. Landing with a thud, the magazine was a mockup of the new design and it included several spreads, feature layouts and covers — seven of them. Potential covers included two close-ups of women’s body parts — lips (in black and white) and a bikini crotch shot (in color), a nearly nude bronzed woman on a beach chair, a sultry bedroom shot in black and white and a Gigi Hadid portrait.
While Lanphear’s departure isn’t explicitly linked to the new direction—she said in the press release that she was “proud of everything all of us at Maxim have accomplished and how far the magazine has come in the past year”—it’s interesting that Martinez’s new direction (i.e. “a bikini crotch shot”) seemed a bit at odds with Lanphear’s more demure vision for Maxim. More interestingly, it was speculated that Playboy’s new no-nudes stance was an attempt to horn in (heh) on the higher-end readers new Maxim had presumably reached. But it’s also possible that Maxim saw an opportunity and went for it. Lanphear’s vision of sensuality and adult males doing their thing will be missed.
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