This recent issue of Harper’s Bazaar came my way as part of a motorway service station ‘value pack’; six quid for this, along with Elle and Elle Deco.

On one hand, this commodification of premium content is clear evidence of the publishing industry’s difficulties, on the other, I got to sample magazines that I might never have otherwise bought. Let’s call it even.

Harper’s has been pretty good for a while, Creative Director Tom Usher having done a fine job before moving onto Marie Claire. But I was mightily impressed by this, one of the first from new Creative Director Marissa Bourke. Here are six things I loved about it…

1. The cover picture. First class eye contact, an amazing image to re-inroduce Kate Winslet as the new Mrs Rock n’ Roll. Amy Winehouse eyes? Check. Slimming backlight? Check. Black turtle neck top? Check. Heavy wrist jewelry? Check. That’s pretty much the Harper’s reader, or at least the readers’ fantasy version of themselves.

2. The discipline in the editing. Everything in this issue points to family. Every story seems to talk about the most important relationships in our lives. It’s truly moving stuff.

3. The incredible poise in the layout. Single pages are the true heartbeat of glossy magazines, as this is the content that sits opposite the advertising, which is why these brands exist in the first place. It’s easy to chuck a beautiful picture across a spread, but another thing entirely to combine a whole series of disparate elements and create a new piece of art. This Editor’s letter is no exception. For more on multi-element pages, take a look at an earlier post here.

4. This picture of a typical Harper’s family scene. Except, in this instance, the models are Keith Richard’s grandchildren, four year old Ida, and Ella, 17. Their grandmother is of course Anita Pallenberg.

4a. The fashion credits on the picture. Denin dungarees, £55 from Topshop, and canvas Vans, for £57. Looking this cool is…easy!

5. This limited edition subscribers cover, by Tracy Emin. Worth the price of a year’s subscription all on it’s own.

6. The beautifully written interview with Tracy Emin about her relationship with David Bowie on page 136. That’s what I call access.