Following reports that Maxim publisher and millionaire Sardar Biglari had a heavy hand in the creation of the December issue of the magazine—so much so that sources said he demanded being included in a photo spread with cover star Alessandra Ambrosio—the magazine has revealed that Biglari will take over the title of Editor-in-Chief.
This news means that Maxim now has an... interesting editorial structure: Biglari is joined by famed photographer Gilles Bensimon in a “senior creative position,” Politico Media reports, as well as a few staffers from Man of the World, a quarterly high-end publication “for the truly modern man.” It also explains why, when former editor Kate Lanphear left the publication, former GQ “Style Guy” Glenn O’Brien seemingly took her position but not her title: that spot has now been filled by Biglari.
Biglari was the one who hired Lanphear, but it seems clear that he didn’t like her direction (or the fact that sales for the magazine dropped even further during her short tenure). Lanphear had worked at T and Elle, and her hiring was intended to make the magazine—as all men’s magazines seem to want to be these days—more like GQ and Esquire, and less lad-mag like, for example, FHM, which just released its last and final issue. Lanphear was also lauded for her reinterpretation of what “sexy” was for women: though she also used Bensimon as a photographer for Maxim’s covers, under her watch, they looked notably different than the cover he produced for Biglari alone, as you can see above. (His full spreads, however, bear similar styles.)
In her letter from the editor for the Swanepoel cover from last March, Lanphear said she wanted to explore the concept of “raw.”
“It suits us. Especially now, in this moment of reinvention,” she explained, before going on to add:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s also in the eye of the beheld. If you’re not sure what I mean, spend a minute looking at our cover image of the irresistible Ms. Swanepoel, shot by legendary photographer Gilles Bensimon. Sweet, playful, and confident in her own skin—and stripped of excess makeup or retouching—she is a perfect choice to kick off a whole new chapter for Maxim.
The “stripped of excess makeup or retouching” is very much language familiar to women who read women’s magazines, but much less so something that would be considered relevant to a men’s publication. And it’s likely not something that will be seen in the new-new Maxim, which is going the way of Bilgari: nice watches, fast cars, beautiful women whenever you want them, a nice dash of yuck.
Update, 1/9/16: Biglari has refuted the claims about his behavior during the Alessandra Ambrosio shoot, and he and Maxim are suing two former employees they claim spread false information about him.
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Images via Gilles Bensimon/Maxim.