COSMO NOT: A couple of weeks ago, Joanna Coles was gushing about her new man, Cosmopolitan’s new creative director Paul Solomons, whom she’d just poached from British GQ. They had long chats about London and sex appeal. He was set to start in January.
But theirs has been a short-lived fling. After accepting the offer, Solomons back-tracked last week, and told Coles he’d be staying put in London with GQ.
This story first appeared in the November 26, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
His decision came a few days after Coles had confirmed the layoffs of nine Cosmo staffers.
Solomons couldn’t be reached by deadline. A spokeswoman for Condé Nast International said he never finalized a contract with Cosmo, and had only agreed to the job in principle.
Coles cited legal reasons — his acceptance of the job depended on him landing a visa.
“I’m really disappointed we couldn’t make it happen. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to work with him,” she said.
The news is a setback for Coles, who had been counting on Solomons to refreshen the magazine, which hadn’t had a creative director in years and had lost its design director, Ann Kwong, in June, while Cosmo was still run by Kate White.
But it is something of a temporary reprieve for staff.
Since coming in, Coles has made it clear in editorial meetings she wants to shake up the magazine and is not ruling out further layoffs, sources said.
During the first round, the art department emerged unscathed, but staffers had assumed they’d get hit once Solomons started. That’s been put on hold with this latest hiccup. Acting creative director Tracy Everding will continue in that role.
Staffers have also been surprised by Coles’ plans to take Cosmo highbrow with well-established writers, much like she’d done at Marie Claire. While her tenure there was successful, they fear that Cosmo might lose its heartland audience with that direction.
Coles said she hasn’t planned for more layoffs. She confirmed Gillian Flynn, the author of the acclaimed novel “Gone Girl,” is working on a piece and Nahnatchka Khan, the writer behind the ABC sitcom “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23,” has a feature in the January issue.
Coles would also no doubt like to steal some copy from Kate Bolick and Naomi Wolf, two of the more well-known freelance writers at the recent Cosmo 100 luncheon, though she said nothing was in the works so far.
Coles, who dabbled in television with “Project Runway,” said she expects more Hollywood talent to contribute to the magazine.