It’s barely been a week since the end of historic 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike, and Los Angeles has erupted with activity as movie and series publicity, awards season campaigning and general revelry has resumed.
Right at the buzzer, GQ magazine has touched down to host its annual Men of the Year celebration on Thursday night, an event that has evolved from a besuited people-watching exercise to an experimental mens fashion showcase and vital pre-Oscars schmooze.
Will Welch, the magazine’s global editorial director, says this is no coincidence.
“GQ stands for being progressive and seeing around corners. Especially after last year, when our feedback was that we had the must fun iteration of the party ever, we knew it was time for a change,” Welch told Variety. “In terms of cultural impact, we have an opportunity to make it bigger than ever.”
The Condé Nast title has teased an innovative red carpet experience built around the exterior of the renovated Bar Marmont, the standalone property attached to legendary hotel Chateau Marmont. What follows, however, will be an unprecedented level of exclusivity for the brand. “The party itself has to be really intimate,” Welch said.
The publication tipped its hand in October by revealing its star-studded host committee and cover subjects for the issue: “Priscilla” star Jacob Elordi, reality queen and “American Horror Story” star Kim Kardashian, rapper Travis Scott and the fashion designer and filmmaker Tom Ford. Under Welch’s guidance, GQ is looking to lean in to the buzz the event has built over years — one that hopes to stand alongside the annual Met Gala (heavily curated by Anna Wintour and run by the staff of Vogue) and the still-hot Vanity Fair Oscar party, in terms of gravitas.
“For a long time, Men of the Year has been the defacto mens red carpet, but we hadn’t done much to orchestrate that. Being so deeply a part of the fashion community, the amazing relationships we have and the way that menswear has exploded over 10 years — its so important to men, and to our readers. They want to see what’s next,” said Welch.
In his scope as global editorial director, Welch has unified many international versions of the celebration so that all take place in the same year-end window. Mexico, China and the U.K. will all trot our their picks for the most influential men (and women) alongside the U.S. version. The editor is predicting a marriage of wild red carpet inspiration and classic sophistication.
“We’re seeing a rebalancing. We were calling this era were coming out of the ‘wild style’ era, which meant the crazier the better. That isn’t gone but theres something really attractive, especially for people who are two steps ahead, in being a bit more polished, That’s not to say safe or boring, it’s still doing a few things but not as unhinged as possible. But it was fun while it lasted,” he said.
Your move, Timmy Chalamet.