What’s behind Hanna Moon’s new magazine? Ugly clothes and Japanese lesbian bars
This article first appeared on Dazed Digital as part of our collaborative series
Is it difficult to make a nice magazine in 2015? Ask Hanna Moon and she’ll give you the answer by showing a handful of visual stories, including transgender models in Japanese lesbian bars; telling you about sharing a naked-woman-obsession with Tyrone Lebon, and working together with his dad, cult photographer Mark Lebon. What initially started as a graduate project for the Fashion Communication and Promotion course at Central Saint Martins, A Nice Magazine has now ventured into its second issue, only one year after Yohji Yamomoto and Marques’Almeida were among the contributors for its debut.
“I think it’s quite ironic that the first issue of the magazine really helped me to settle in the fashion industry,” Hanna tells us, reflecting on what she found ‘nice’ in the past year. I didn’t really expect that much of a good response. People were being very nice about the first issue, which encouraged me to make the second one.”
Its theme is ‘I heart (hurt) art’, and establishing its concept was fairly random, to say the least. While travelling through Korea with her friend Raf a year ago, they saw a couple wearing an ugly matching outfit and took a picture to immortalise the memory. “Raf caught a red heart sign on the street between them, while they were kissing. We thought that was such an art. I think that art and jokes are so close to one another these days. My magazine is almost like a very carefully placed joke: it’s rather sarcastic, but fun.”
Art is such a big subject, Hanna continues, and therefore she wanted to handle it in a light hearted way, taking a cue from that defining picture in Korea. “Art could be anything, and at the same time, there is too much ‘Art’ out there. I wanted to talk about this through the projects I made, and having fun with the people around me. I started asking friends to give me projects, and one of the requirements was that they should be very personal.” FYI, her mother featured in the mag — can’t get more close to home than that.
Among the contributors are Max Pearmain, the editor in chief of Arena Homme + and Jamie Reid, a close collaborator of the Sex Pistols; and besides fashion’s favorite ‘alt’ model Moffy, who’s featured this time around? “From my side, I took pictures of lots of people I met in Japan this year, and of course Moffy! It was more of a spontaneous decision, and I took most of the pictures when I was away. My friend Joyce and I did a fashion shoot in Tokyo with a transgender girl, Yoshino. We met her in a lesbian bar in Shinjuku a day before the shoot, and asked her to be our model. We shot her around midnight, as that was the only time she would be available. The three of us were all really drunk during the shoot… It was the best shoot I’ve ever done, I had such fun, I couldn’t stop laughing!”
As an attempt to transfer the experience to the UK, Hanna recently hosted a girls only night in Soho with her friend Rachael Crowther, a visual artist who was selected for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries last year. “I wanted to start a new girls night in London after I had been to them in different cities, as well as lesbian bars,” she says, before adding that pictures of those nights in question can be found in the first issue. “London weirdly doesn’t have many lesbian places for young people.” It seems a statement rooted in truth. Apart from She Soho, a small cafe hardly visible, located somewhere in between clubs with vogueing men on Old Compton Street, there ain’t much out there for the lady-loving flesh in Central London. But, there’s some good news for those systematically avoiding Tinder and prefer human closeness: “…we are planning to throw more parties soon!”
All queerness considered, is she taking any politics into account when creating the content for A Nice Magazine? “I think we are all overloaded with obvious politics,” she starts. “I am not trying to make a queer publication or trying to push the boundaries. I am doing things I am interested in, or what excites me, and I think my opinion shows naturally through my work. There is an article by my friend Ethan O’Connor in issue two that talks about political art, and we took a while to write it in order to get our message across.” In a similar vein, Hanna does not really care much about ‘redefining’ idealised beauty standards found in mainstream media. “I take pictures of what I think is beautiful,” she reinstates.
Having now made magazines about both art and fashion, has she discovered any crossovers? Are there any real ‘boundaries’? “Art is subjective,” Hanna concludes, and notes that if there’s one thing people should take away from the magazine, it should, simply, be ‘art’.
A Nice Magazine 2 is launched at Ditto Press tonight between 7-9pm. 4 Benyon Road, London, N1 5TY!