​10 fantastic men from 10 years of 'fantastic man'

As selected by the iconic magazine's founder Gert Jonkers.

by James Anderson
23 October 2015, 8:10pm

Since it was launched ten years ago by Gert Jonkers and Jop Van Bennekom, Fantastic Man has brought some brains, wit and panache back to men's interest magazines -- a publishing genre traditionally obsessed with a predictable mix of suits, cars and exercise regimes. Uninterested in the latest male-ebrity with some product to flog, the F.M remit has instead focused firmly on interesting characters -- some high profile, others somewhat less-so -- with tales to tell, style to devour and attitude to admire.

A new book, Fantastic Man: Men of Great Style and Substance, celebrates this tenth anniversary and brings together a selection of 69 men gracing the magazine's pages throughout the years. Speaking exclusively to i-D, Gert Jonkers selects and discusses 10 men featured in the book (in no particular order of preference) who he feels are particularly fantastic in their own unique ways.

Ollie Edwards
"He is one of the top models of our time, and he's on the cover of the book. He's a British model, born in 1985, which makes him 29 or 30 today. He has such an American face, a Kennedy jaw, very Ralph Lauren. He likes cars, he's super-nice. I wouldn't say I have had any deep philosophical conversations with him, but he's a good guy."

Claude Montana
"His is a fascinating story -- from rags to riches and back. He's an inspiration to many people, and the outlandishness of his heyday in the 80s was inescapable. I've seen him a couple of times on the streets in Paris. It was like seeing Garbo, or Madonna, you get a shiver down your spine. Cycling through Paris a few years ago, I saw Claude just standing there. I turned around to go back and ask to take a photo, but he'd gone. I circled the area for ten minutes looking for him, but he'd totally vanished."

Carlo Antonelli 
"I'm personally fascinated by him. He's such an outgoing person, someone who exudes something. When he was in the magazine, I think he was editor-in-chief of Wired at the time. When I first met him, it was admiration at first sight. That's the role of Fantastic Man: to be excited by somebody, whether they are a farmer, a cheesemaker, or a designer. He's very socially energetic. He has an incredible ease with people and being social, and also dressing up. He has a big mop of curly, unruly hair. It's all effortless yet somewhat flamboyant."

Helmut Lang
"His is a special story of someone who seems to do what he wants and doesn't feel any obligation. He went out on a high. Usually nobody is allowed to have art as a second career. Maybe a few writers or authors become painters or sculptors, but he has successfully gone from fashion to art. People tended to think of him as quite a secretive designer. Yet, when we did that story in Fantastic Man, he was lying on the ground, being shot by Bruce Weber, and was happy to do so."

Francesco Vezzoli
"He's completely unstoppable -- an artist that never stops surprising everybody. Just when you think you have seen a lot of art, he does something totally different, and everything he does is a weird mash-up of everything fabulous. I remember a hilarious dinner with him in Milan when he sent back everything he got served. He was very specific, he wanted just a piece of steamed white fish with miso on it, and they kept bringing other things. That's what makes him so good, he wants to do things exactly his own way."

Malcolm McLaren
"He's the man entertaining man ever on Earth! He's amazing -- an entertainer in private or professionally. Jop and I met him initially through a mutual friend. You immediately know that he loves to talk. Years later, he was in Amsterdam and called us to invite us to dinner. Malcolm likes to have a theme to talk about and at that point his big theme was that art is the new rock 'n' roll. He was in the middle of talking about this when that Italian 80s pop star Zucchero -- who was dining in the restaurant with a large group of people -- came over to say hi to Malcolm and to remind him that they'd met before, in 1986. Malcolm chatted briefly to him, then when Zucchero went, he just carried on the exact same sentence where he had left off, with no pause."

Wolfgang Tillmans
"He is not a loudmouth, he quietly does what he does. He touches us with his magic, he Wolfgang-izes things. He has a beautiful gallery space in Berlin with great shows there. He's also a very good DJ -- he plays music you want to hear. He's a bit disco, he feels the vibe in the room and makes it better. He's a very generous person, a good listener, and yet he's very precise. For a long time, the issue with him on the cover was the best-selling issue we ever did. It sold more copies than even the David Beckham issue."

Tim Blanks
"He's the philosopher of fashion. It will be very interesting to see how the fashion world views Tim Blanks in the future. People don't realize enough what his influence is. His references are so particular to him. He's quite a loud dresser, he likes a loud shirt. It makes him stand out, it's nice when someone finds a personal style. He's friendly, super friendly. I love him!"

Rem Koolhaas
"A fellow Dutchman, so that's already a reason for him to be in this book, and he's of course a very good, interesting architect. He's a typical example of many architects who don't actually build anything until they are, like, 53, as it takes a while for someone to trust them. He has such a fascinating and complex way of thinking. It's not like a drawing that has just been turned into a building, it's a unique and beautiful way of working and there's so much research goes into it. Look at the Prada Foundation in Italy, it's amazing. It puts so many galleries and museums to shame. He's very nice, a very friendly man. And he's extremely overwhelming, you can sense this power if you're near him. It's the same sort of power you sense with people like Grayson Perry or Tom Ford."

Okwui Enwezor
"He's incredible, he's a great gentleman, a very good curator and director of things that happen in the art world. He did the current Biennale in Venice, for example, and is the director of the Kunst in Munich. I first encountered him in person in the Kilgour store in Savile Row - that was after we'd written about him in the magazine. There are not that many amazing curators and we thought he deserved a place in the magazine."

Fantastic Man: Men of Great Style and Substance, published by Phaidon, is out now. 


Text James Anderson

Malcolm McLaren
Fantastic Man
10th anniversary
wolfgang tillmans
helmut lang
rem koolhaas
fashion interviews
tim blanks
gert jonkers
claude montana
fantastic man: men of great style and substance
jop van bennekom