Architectural Digest's Instagrammed March Cover.


Anna Wintour may have put Kim Kardashian on the cover of Vogue, but that doesn’t mean she’s a fan of the whole family. The Condé Nast artistic director wasn’t too pleased with Architectural Digest’s March newsstand cover featuring Kourtney and Khloé Karsashian, insiders told WWD.

The sources said the styling of the sisters wasn’t up to snuff for Wintour, who has been spending a lot of time on AD’s floor at Condé headquarters at One World Trade Center. The artistic director, who doubles as Vogue editor in chief, has been working “very closely” with AD editor in chief Margaret Russell to improve the look of the magazine.

The latest cover, which didn’t go out to subscribers — they got a Kardashian-less one featuring Kourtney’s office — elicited some “tense” moments between the two editors, sources said. But it wasn’t just Wintour who found the newsstand cover disagreeable — Instagram fans of AD were vocal about their dislike of the choice as well.

“Sell outs…here I thought AD had some standards…down the gutter,” a user commented. “I feel like I can see more of their body parts than interior on this pic,” another wrote. “Unfollow @archdigest you’ve been going down hill for a while…btw horrible style…really dated and cheap looking,” offered another.

Not all the comments were negative. In fact, many noted the large social media followings of the Kardashian sisters, while several touted how great the issue turned out. “Why so much negativity people?! These ladies have beautiful homes that they worked hard on and are proud of,” said a fan in defense.

The cover image, which resides on AD’s Instagram page, has garnered about 7,000 likes — thousands more than any other cover image the magazine has posted. A spokeswoman said that on Tuesday, the day the issue landed, the title saw its biggest traffic day ever on its Web site as well as a large jump in the number of Facebook fans and Instagram followers.

WWD reached out to AD to get clarification on whether the Kardashian cover was Russell’s decision, and why she decided to put the sisters on the newsstand cover only. Russell did not comment, but an AD spokeswoman said, “Designed by AD100 talent Martyn Lawrence Bullard, both Kardashian projects are unique and worthy of the spotlight in our annual ‘Celebrities at Home’ issue. Margaret Russell chose to do two covers, a celebrity-driven one for newsstand to introduce the magazine to new readers, and another featuring a beautiful interior for our subscribers to enjoy. Longtime readers tell us they display their issues like coffee table books—and Kourtney’s office, with mid-Century French furnishings and exquisite art, is a perfect AD cover.”

Although the Kardashians aren’t known for raking in massive sales on the newsstand, the family knows how to bring digital buzz. For its part, AD is focusing more on the Web, as it is in the process of building a robust digital team led by digital director Erica Duecy, who joined Condé last summer.

While it is too early to see how the March issue is performing on the newsstand, AD, like its rivals in the magazine space, could benefit from a sales bump there. According to The Alliance for Audited Media, total single-copy sales totaled 61,973 in the first half of last year, down 3.3 percent from the year-ago period. The small decline is an anomaly in an industry that is suffering double-digit sales drops on an annual basis. Still, from 2009 to 2013, AD’s newsstand sales had steadily hovered above 70,000.

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