A couple of years ago fashion editor Hal Rubenstein edited The Gentry Man: A Guide for the Civilized Male, a book culled from Gentry magazine—along with Esquire and Flair among the most high-concept magazines in history. Publisher William C. Segal’s innovative style magazine broke new ground with its amazing graphic design and the timeless men’s fashions it presented in every issue. “Gentry … rivaled the likes of Esquire for intelligence and Playboy for inventiveness,” I wrote in The Graphic Design Reader. For those agile enough to click on Modernism 101 before the next person, the complete collection—with covers by Henri Matisse, Alvin Lustig and others, a slew of tip-ins, fold-outs and multiple paper stock inserts, the 22 issues from Winter 1951 to Spring 1957—can be yours.
But what really caught the public’s attention was a pre-launch subscription advertisement in The New Yorker that defined Segal’s prospective readers as “first rate,” implying that they would be less than elite if they passed up this magazine. The headline read: IN OCTOBER A NEW TYPE OF MAGAZINE WILL BE PUBLISHED. IT WILL EITHER ELATE THE TOP 100,000 THINKING MEN IN THIS COUNTRY, OR BE A MISERABLE FLOP. FRANKLY, WE DON’T KNOW WHICH.