By now you've seen Brad Pitt's GQ cover and the bulging pics inside—via Trent, Andy or at the newsstand. So if you're headed to Boders to take a look-see, don't forget that other GQ from across the pond: Rio Ferdinand is the May cover boy for the Brits.
Paul Henderson is the lucky writer to interview the soccer star and Simon Emmett lenses the moody pictorial. Rio: In Defence of Football's Most Stylish Player promises to be more about the splashy style of the $54 million dollar man. Indeed, there are some nuggets—like Rio's over-the-top entrance to a Manchester nightclub:
Unsurprisingly he arrives in a grey Aston Martin Vanquish with the personalized plate '100RF.' Far more surprising is that he arrives alone. No interfering agents, no sponsors, not even a doting girlfriend—although he is wearing her scarf. "Don't lose the stylist. "It's my bird's and she'll kill me."
GQ anointed Rio as Britain's best dressed man, but there is very little fashion talk here. Instead expect much more conversation about racism and sport. You may recall that Rio spearheaded Nike's Stand Up Speak Up anti-racism campaign. The 26 year old soccer phenom details his motivations, describing jibes from other players and notorious 'monkey' taunts by fans. What Ferdinand does not detail ... his notorious 8-month suspension for missing a drug test. To this day he maintains that he simply forgot. "I've asked myself over and over, 'How did you forget the test?' There's no answer for it. I can't find an answer. I just forgot. I'm man enough to admit that I did cry."
It's not that the writing isn't poignant and the pictorial isn't well-crafted. It all is .. so very subtle and perhaps that's the distinction between the magazines. Whereas the American edition treads a fine line between fandom and subtle hints of metro-sexuality, not the case here. Henderson's description of Rio is clinical. "Up close, his face is an odd mix of exaggerated curves and sharp angles—when he smiles it's like a Salvador Dali passport photo. You certainly wouldn't describe him as conventionally good looking, but with his lips jacked in a perma-sneer there is more than a touch of the Jaggers about him, and Rio certainly isn't short of female admirers." The uninspired writing is somewhat surprising.
Mario Testino's Brad Pitt pictorial is adoringly la dolce vita. Simon Emmett chooses a distant and more minimalist route. The cover and two inside pages are bright and washed in red gels. Later, most of the other photography becomes dark and film noirish. You almost to catch expect Ida Lupino or Farley Granger in frame.
By a long-shot the best picture is an extreme closeup, flawless cheekbones, perfect razor stubble and Ben Sherman aviator sunglasses. Ahh. Once again, Rio and the Ben Sherman collection ...