DONNA’S TOUCH: Donna Karan is not one to shy away from reaching her customer in a personal way, from spending time with her in the dressing room to “Woman to Woman,” which brought her sensibility to magazines. Karan’s newest venture, the Donna Karan iPhone application that just launched, takes a similar approach on iTunes. It brings “Woman to Woman,” which launched in 1995, to new media and social networking, with videos of the designer discussing her style philosophy, Q&As with friends and other interactive features.
“This iPhone application is the modern evolution of the time I spend with my customer in the dressing room,” Karan said. “Only now I can reach a world of women immediately, speaking woman-to-woman about clothes, objects of desire and personal passions.”
This story first appeared in the August 7, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Karan developed the application with Atimi Software Inc. “The design method applied to the iPhone application was to truly allow Donna Karan to connect with her clients in as personal a way as possible,” said Scott Michaels, Atimi’s vice president.
Users can scroll through fall runway looks and create a wish list that can be sent to a personal shopper at Donna Karan International at the click of an icon. Other content includes a video called “System of Dressing” featuring the designer musing about her iconic seven easy pieces. Among the sections is “Love, love, love,” showcasing Karan’s two favorite things of the moment, both personal and from her line; “People Who Inspire,” featuring profiles of people who inspire Karan, starting with pianist Eric Lewis, who performed at her fall show; “Ask Donna,” which allows shoppers to send her questions; a Proust-like questionnaire between Karan and someone she admires called “DK Talk,” which kicks of with Iman, and “DK Travel,” which includes photos of her travels, launching with Karan’s recent trip to Africa with her friend Calvin Klein. The site will be updated weekly.
— Marc Karimzadeh
NEW TATLER: The New York Post is set to hire Emily Smith to succeed Page Six deputy editor Paula Froelich, who stepped down from her post in July to pursue a writing career after her novel, “Mercury in Retrograde,” made The New York Times Best-Seller List. Smith was most recently East Coast news director at Life & Style, and previously was the U.S. editor of the British newspaper The Sun, which, like the Post, is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
“Going to Page Six is my dream job,” Smith said. “I’m sad to leave Life & Style, but I’m proud to have been part of the transformation of the magazine.”
Smith was respected among staffers at Life & Style even though she was only at the publication since June. “Emily is an amazing journalist and I understand why she is such a hot commodity,” said editor in chief Dan Wakeford. A successor to Smith at Life & Style has not yet been revealed.
— Stephanie D. Smith
LOOKING TO THE BIG SCREEN: For spring, it was all about the music industry. Now, for fall, Banana Republic is going to the movies. The brand’s new ad campaign provides a cinematic take on its fall style, focusing on the white shirt, chino, suit, denim and trenchcoat, with actors Lauren Ambrose, Krysten Ritter, Chris Messina, Scott Speedman, Florence Faivre, Nicole Fiscella and Juan Diego Botto serving as the models. In addition to the print component, the group will appear in a series of short films, shot by Richard Phibbs, on the streets of New York City and at Schillor’s Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side. “The actors were chosen originally because we wanted to authentically capture a campaign grounded in film,” said Simon Kneen, creative director and executive vice president of Banana Republic.
Continuing the brand’s association with film, Banana Republic partnered with Vanity Fair and Film Independent to sponsor “Project Involve: City Stories,” which involves a series of 10 short films created by aspiring filmmakers. In addition to sponsorship, Banana Republic will contribute wardrobing and styling for the casts. Kneen said the brand was drawn to this collaboration, in part, “to support underserved, up-and-coming filmmakers and their work.” A spokeswoman said Banana Republic does not release information regarding its media buy. According to Gap Inc., parent of Banana Republic, the company spent a total of $435 million on advertising last year.
— Amy Wicks
SAVING STANLEY: The New Yorker has spared one of the staffers who was reportedly let go when Condé Nast Publications this week laid off around a dozen receptionists working on the editorial floors of several magazines. Stanley Ledbetter, a staple at The New Yorker’s offices for 20 years, will stay on at the magazine as an editorial assistant, a New Yorker spokeswoman confirmed. Ledbetter fills the position of another editorial assistant who left this week. The New Yorker offered him the position Wednesday night and he accepted Thursday afternoon; details of his new duties have not been worked out.
HEAR THEM ROAR: The British women’s weekly magazine market is preparing for a dose of young blood this fall. In October, the London-based, privately held ShortList Media plans to launch a free, high-end glossy called Stylist, which is targeted at professional women ages 20 to 40, with a mix of fashion, beauty, travel and news features. Meanwhile, in September, British novelist and columnist Rachel Johnson, the younger sister of London’s eccentric mayor, Boris Johnson, will take over as editor of The Lady, one of Britain’s oldest — and quite possibly the fustiest — weekly magazines.
Stylist is aiming for circulation of 400,000 — roughly double that of the hugely successful weekly glossy Grazia — and will be hand-distributed in London and five other British cities including Glasgow.
Chief executive officer Mike Soutar, a former editor of FHM who brought Maxim to the U.S. and oversaw the release of the lad magazine Nuts, said he’s confident he’ll be able to repeat the success of ShortList, the free men’s weekly magazine that launched in September 2007, despite the dismal climate. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be bold,” he said, adding that the feedback from potential advertisers was “very positive.” Soutar declined to give details about advertising or editorial other than to say that Lisa Smosarski, editor of More, the young women’s weekly title published by Bauer Media in London, would be taking over as editor.
Soutar said he believes there’s an “incredibly vibrant future” for magazines generally, and “massive space and room for a new title. I don’t think any of the other magazines need to suffer for us to be successful,” he said.
The Lady, Britain’s go-to magazine for nannies, domestic help and holiday home rentals, as well as advice on how to revamp your picnic menu and garden on a budget, won’t be going head-to-head with Stylist. First published in 1885, The Lady is now run by one of founder Thomas Gibson Bowles’ great-grandsons, Ben Budworth. With a circulation of 30,000, it caters to traditional women over 40 who tend to live in the suburbs and countryside.
Johnson, the outspoken author of “Notting Hell” and “Shire Hell” and a columnist for The Sunday Times of London and the Evening Standard, hasn’t said yet how she’s planning to take the title into the 21st century, but there’s no doubt The Lady is in for a culture shock.
— Samantha Conti