Radical Design

Smart, sleek, and sexy, Elle’s design makes you think you’ve been on a fabulous diet. Its professional but still cool style can appeal to readers in any age group. The book is like an avant-garde collection coming down the runway—unique and stylish.

Elle’s design has a certain sensibility that radiates a particular style, and delivers huge quantities of images and information without clutter or confusion.

The display-type font looks modern and feminine – the sans-serif equivalent of the magazine’s own chic image. Using it in almost every layout might get old, but the designers find new ways to use it each time.


The “Meet the Machers” article is in “Elle’s Power List” department, and this month it portrays great women in Hollywood. The design plays off the thin font by using long rules to break the writing into mini-columns. Each actress honored in the spread is featured in her own respectively slim column, and photos of some actresses are placed in separate columns—weaving the design together nicely.

Sticking with the slender theme, Elle uses a grid system for the fashion merchandise pages. The design would have looked like some expensive clothing had erupted up on the page, but the graphics team cleverly placed a barely-there grid behind all the fashion spreads. The intent is conscious—but the result is smartly subconscious.

Simple and clean lines can cure any graphic disaster. So now the reader won’t get dizzy trying to pick out a particular item.

But even when the grids aren’t there, they still are. Invisible, but evident, the grids line up fur items evenly so the reader doesn’t confuse furry coats from shaggy dresses.

Everything Elle—that is everything minus the ads—is done neatly and in new fashion. The reader doesn’t get lost trying to find out what hair product or eye shadow to use. Every page has a scheme and every scheme is interesting and fresh.

Risky business is what it’s all about in Elle’s design. Not scared to use up space and do something new, Elle blows up images of boots, bags, stunner shades, and bling watches. These items are sprinkled throughout six pages, making the accessories department pop out.

Elle’s design is not a race to see how much can fit on one page. It’s a puzzle, but the kind with oversized pieces so that it’s easy to put together. Everything is there for a reason, and everything just makes sense. It’s not design overkill, or underkill—it’s a job well done.

 Danya Shaikh


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