GQ Australia editor Michael Christensen said the 20th anniversary of the title in Australia was the perfect time to celebrate the past, the present and the future in one night at the GQ Men of the Year Awards.
“The 20 awards we handed out earlier this month were a real mix of up-and-comers and icons.”
This was Christensen’s first year running the awards. He was appointed to the role of editor at the time of the awards last year, but he has been with the title for some time.
“I have been with GQ since 2012, rising through the ranks. It still can happen,” he laughed.
A big challenge for any awards night with winners from around the world is attracting the talent to the event and on that score GQ Australia did very well this year. Among the guests at the Sydney event were supermodel Emily Ratajkowski and two overachieving Aussies now based in the US – Joel Edgerton and Naomi Watts.
But it is not all about celebrity. Christensen: “Part of what GQ needs to be is not just covering important figures in men’s lives. We also need to be battling the bigger issues as well. This year we had a really nice mix of celebrity and some of the stories that really need to be championed.”
One of the stories GQ helped champion this year was one of its award winners, Walk Free Foundation. Founded by father and daughter, Andrew and Grace Forrest, the foundation has global ambitions to stop modern slavery.
Christensen also noted the GQ brand attracted a good mix of international and Australian sporting greats this year at the awards. Winners ranged from the Australian Invictus Games Team to Kurt Fearnley and Ben Simmons to mixed martial arts fighter Robert Whittaker.
On winner who wasn’t able to make the event was the brand’s Woman of the Year, Elizabeth Debicki.
“Unfortunately she’s in what will be a very successful film directed by Steve McQueen – Widows. She had to attend the premiere in Los Angeles, but she sent us a great acceptance speech.
“We also had an International Woman of the Year as well, as we were rewarding a couple of more women than we have done in the past, which I think is important.”
International Woman of the Year was Emily Ratajkowski.
Australia celebrated its winners with three different covers of GQ Australia on sale this month.
Christensen noted print remains hugely important to the GQ Australia business model.
“We are a brand, but the brand has been built from the magazine upwards. We are now very much a multiplatform creator of content and we remain the leading men’s lifestyle title in Australia and in the world.
“It is very important to have the magazine to showcase all the stories we have and all the photo shoots we have done with all the stars.”
The good thing about being part of the Condé Nast stable is that the title can sometimes share photo shoots, which is what happened with the Woman of the Year. GQ Australia shared the Elizabeth Debicki photo shoot with Vogue Australia.
Helping facilitate that of course was Condé Nast Australia editorial director Edwina McCann, who overseas both titles.
In 2019 GQ Australia will publish six editions of the magazine. The magazine recently relaunched GQ Style, which Christensen said was part of the celebration of turning 20.
“It seemed the right time to bring back an even more fashion-forward title. That will publish again next year too.”
When it comes to the strongest covers of the past year, Christensen noted its Harry Styles cover was a major seller earlier in the year.
“We also had a very successful digital cover featuring Troye Sivan, which was hugely popular.
“We also had a good month recently with Chris Hemsworth, who guest-edited our November edition. It was nice to hear from him where the main focus wasn’t on his latest films.”