TWO, TWO, TWO MINTS IN ONE: It appears Elle is looking for two people to replace its outgoing senior vice president and chief brand officer Carol Smith, who decamped to Condé Nast to head up a newly created food group. According to insiders, the Hachette Filipacchi Media title has enlisted a headhunting firm to help fill two slots: a chief brand officer position and a publisher job. In separating the branding role from the publishing/ad sales role — which were united under Smith — it stands to reason the magazine plans to leave the page selling and fashion-industry hobnobbing to a publisher so that a brand guru at the top of the masthead can focus on drumming up extensions and marketing programs and, like Smith, oversee all editorial functions, as well.
The search for a publisher is believed to have begun earlier this year at Elle, following the January departure of Smith’s number two — vice president and managing director Daniel Ragone, who left to become president of Interview. William Li, associate publisher at Condé Nast Traveler and former publisher of Men’s Vogue, is thought to be a top candidate for the job. And whoever the final pick is, the appointment can’t come soon enough — Elle’s sales team should be selling the September issue at this point.
This story first appeared in the April 16, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Regarding these developments, a Hachette spokeswoman said: “Consistent with our corporate policy, we do not comment on rumors.”
— Nick Axelrod
THIS OLD HOUSE?: Martha Stewart’s flagship is getting a bit of a makeover. The 20th anniversary of Martha Stewart Living will kick off with the January 2011 issue, but, in the meantime, readers will find some tweaks to the magazine under new editor in chief Vanessa Holden. She plans to have a distinct theme for every issue (May’s is color) and make the magazine more shoppable by sharing sources, prices and more information right on the page — a first for the title.
Holden also intends to make the in-house experts at Martha Stewart Living more visible on the page to create a connection between editors and their readers (and perhaps make it easier to understand how exactly to create, say, a roaring Tyrannosaurus rex birthday treat from mere cake). “We’ve really focused on bringing Martha’s point of view back to the magazine,” said Holden. “She’s incredibly curious and will find something of interest in just about anything. That sense of exploration and discovery is something we’re keen to share.” Future issues also will be more oriented toward reaching a younger audience. On that note, the company is launching its first digital magazine, Boundless Beauty, on the iPad and other digital tablet devices late this year.
— Amy Wicks
IN THE NICK OF TIME: Is Hearst Magazines close to finding a successor for Redbook editor in chief Stacy Morrison? Today is Morrison’s last day at the magazine and insiders hear Glamour editor in chief Cindi Leive’s longtime executive editor, Jill Herzig, could be trading 4 Times Square for the Hearst Tower. In an internal memo distributed last week, Morrison said she is leaving Redbook due to family illnesses that require her full attention. Herzig did not return calls seeking comment, and Hearst officials could not be reached at press time.
— Amy Wicks
FUTURE PERFECT: With everyone a critic through blogs and tweets, editors and their seasoned perspectives are needed more than ever — at least according to Diane von Furstenberg, who raised the issue at Thursday’s Fashion Group International panel discussion, which she moderated. “The Internet created this huge democratization and it means that things are more available, but it also means that editors are more needed,” von Furstenberg told the audience and panelists Ken Downing of Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York’s Julie Gilhart, Vogue’s Sarah Brown and Marylou Luther of the International Fashion Syndicate, who sat in for The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan. “My advice to all editors and retailers is [do] not be shy,” von Furstenberg noted, adding: “Authenticity always wins.”
Downing concurred. “They want to know they are getting solid information,” he said. “I often fear that we give away too much information. I think that mystique and magic are important to keep people coming back and wanting more.”
That, perhaps, also has something to do with everything from celebrity designers and reality television personalities, and the media scrutiny into their lives. “It all started with Andy Warhol,” von Furstenberg said, referencing the artist’s idea that everybody will be famous for 15 minutes. “I can only imagine what Andy Warhol would have done with the Internet and Paris Hilton.”
— Marc Karimzadeh