Esquire’s Editor MATTHEW BAXTER-PRIEST on the ever-changing landscape of today’s man
“If I’d have known it was a pyjama party, I’d have dressed appropriately”
SHE OPENS THE DOOR IN A BATHROBE. I’m a little taken aback. It’s not normally how you expect an A-list celebrity to greet you. Wearing an immaculately-cut Hugo Boss suit and my lucky Gomminos, all of a sudden, I’m the one feeling selfconscious.
I quickly try to style it out, quipping:
“If I’d have known it was a pyjama party, I would have dressed appropriately.”
She looks at me, laughs, and welcomes me in.
The ‘she’ in this scenario is Rita Ora, the multi award-winning British singer, and I had obviously not read the memo (do we still send those?) and came to her hotel room all decked out. Although, as Oscar Wilde said: “a man can never be overdressed.” Today, more than most, I’m clinging to that.
In her defence, she had just woken up from a jetlag-induced nap and was getting ready for her starring performance that night at the Esquire 100 party — an event to celebrate publishing one hundred issues of Esquire Middle East. For weeks after the invites first went out we were fending off proposals (indecent and otherwise) from people asking to be allowed to come to the party and meet her. What people weren’t aware of was that Ora would also be gracing the cover of this newly revamped issue — Issue 101.
Why Rita Ora? Well, being the only men’s magazine in the region to reach
100 issues, I felt it was time for a change. The last time a woman graced our cover — Mad Men’s sassy secertary Christina Hendrix — was nearly eight years ago! Since then men have changed, in our tastes, in our attitudes and, most importantly, in our understanding of our place in the world. In the privileged position that we have here at Esquire, it is our duty to steer the conversation and culture towards a positive and all-inclusive direction, one that celebrates the achievements of people regardless of gender.
For Esquire, Rita Ora is a perfect example of an empowered woman. Strong, stylish, successful and confident, someone who is reshaping the world around her. That is something well worth celebrating.
Despite fleeing Kosovo for London as a refugee, her sensational musical talent rocketed her to worldwide fame by her early twenties. However, following a bizarre spat with her record label, her music career stalled. So she turned her hand to acting (Fifty Shades of Grey, Southpaw), TV presenting (X-factor, America’s Next Top Model) and fashion (where she is a regular on Fashion Week front rows). Each venture, a success. She is adored by her 13.8 million Instagram followers, obsessed over by the tabloid press and is in the midst of a campaign to completely reshape the future of the music industry with the upcoming release of her long-awaited second album, Phoenix. As she says in ‘A Superstar Aura’
(p104), “Being a woman doesn’t limit me, but we need to be more outspoken about what we have done, and not about what we don’t have.” We couldn’t agree more.