By and large, I found more interesting magazines in Germany than in France on my European adventures this summer. The reason may be that Germany actually has better magazines, or it may be that France actually has really good and inexpensive wine. In the end, I left Paris with a couple interesting titles (which I will be writing about) but for a while I thought my only souvenir from gay Paree would be Palace Costes.
I didn’t buy the magazine, it was left at the table next to ours at a sidewalk cafe by a couple of women, who were looking at it very intently while they chatted. Not a French speaker, I’m not sure what they were saying, but I think it was something like “just you watch, we will leave this crummy hotel magazine behind when we leave and those Americans will scoop it up—they are all such garbage pickers. If we leave a a few drops of wine in our glasses, they will drink that too.” (Would not.)
Palace Costes is a luxury woman’s magazine in the guise of a hotel title not unlike several in the US including the glossy The Ritz Carlton puts out. But unlike the Ritz’s book, PC seems to offer more of an stylistic link between the hotel’s brand and the editorial (Ritz hotels have a men’s club feel, the mag is pretty in pink). Additionally, even though most PC content is what could be hum-drum product pages—the magazine qua catalog Trojan Horse that we’ve all seen over and over again—instead these pages are most entertaining. Products are so preposterous that this content ends up being more amusing and visually entertaining than the perfunctory features the magazine also offers.
Design-wise, the magazine over-relies on filled-in counters in the type (which was trick #3 in the punk designer’s tool kit, c. 1978), but what makes the magazine impressive (for it’s category) is how entertaining it is even when you can’t read the words. My adopted city of Washington has 100 languages, and tens of thousands of foreign visitors each year. But you wouldn’t know it from city or subway signage. There are no accommodations to be seen for non-English speakers. I don’t think making a magazine useful to people who can’t read it is any less of a challenging than achieving the same task for a subway system. But Palace Costes, is is a welcome and amusing few minutes of diversion no matter your language, and that’s what a hotel glossy needs to be.
When I got the magazine back to our charming two-bedroom flat in the Marais (overlooking a courtyard with several good restaurants), I discovered that a single page towards the back had been torn out. But I can’t imagine it had anything better than these shoes.
Invisible Foosball table, anyone?