Penny Martin

Interview by Annabelle Fernandez
Photography by Thomas Lohr

Nils Frahm – Says – Said & Done
Spaces (2013)

Uncompromisingly intelligent, unfailingly stylish and utterly personable, The Gentlewoman, now into its 10th issue, is in a league of its own in the world of women’s and fashion magazines. The same can be said of its editor-in-chief. With a critical eye developed by curatorial stints across various creative platforms, Penny Martin has confidently steered the publication from day one by committing to, first and foremost, the women on its pages and its much-talked-about covers.

This love for people and personalities, and the dedication to showcasing them in a real, respectful manner, is the driving force behind the title—and Penny herself. Be it her schoolmates at St Andrews, the technicians and designers at SHOWStudio, or the co-founders of Fantastic Man, for Penny, it all goes back to people—and what she has learnt from her peers along the way.

Let’s start from the most recent issue of The Gentlewoman, before going back to the beginning. Much has been said about having Robyn on the cover, but which story did you most enjoy working on in issue 10?

I always enjoy whatever interview I take on. Written-through profiles are obviously more absorbing since they’re so big and take so long to do, but I’m a big fan of the Q&A form—you almost have to inhabit the person’s mind and voice to get the edit right. So I spent a long time thinking about Francesca Amfitheatrof. I was also very excited to be working with Lauren Collins on the piece on Kirsty Young and Cristina Ruiz on Marlene Dumas. Caroline Roux, our deputy editor, and I worked very hard to get the standard of writing very high this season. It was worth the graft, I think.

Penny Martin The Gentlewoman

Issue 10 also seems like a good time to talk about the evolution of the title. You’ve talked about how it’s gotten livelier and even sexier with each issue. Was it a conscious decision to be less “masculine”, one separate from your sister publication, Fantastic Man?

I’m interested to hear you say it’s less masculine. Do you mean in the imagery? I think we’re less…formal, yes. I don’t think it was a conscious agenda to distance ourselves from Fantastic Man. It just became obvious we were a different entity once we started making The Gentlewoman. And increasingly so.

We’re actually talking about taking it a step further for the next issue, so you’ll have to brace yourself.

Read more in N˚5: Arrival.