ESQUIRE GETS GROSS: When Edward Kosner, the new editor of Esquire, took over, he promised he wouldn’t raid his former employer, New York magazine. On Thursday, however, Kosner hired New York contributing editor Michael Gross as a senior writer. Gross will write feature articles on a wide range of subjects, as well as a monthly column for Town & Country, another Hearst magazine. He resigned from New York this week and will start at Esquire in July, after completing a book on models.

Gross joins other New York stolen properties as John Taylor, Jeannette Walls and Julie Baumgold, Kosner’s wife.

Kurt Andersen, editor of New York, said, “My reaction was he [Gross] had a great run here and I hope he has a great run at Esquire. I understand that editors want to work with people they’ve worked with before. I’m not desperately unhapy and wish him well. I now have that much more room to assemble my own team.”

COVER FLAP: Elle thought it had a real coup with its March cover, which features a shot of three models that splits down the middle to reveal an ad for Elizabeth Arden’s fragrance, Sunflowers. While Arden is said to be very pleased, other advertisers in the magazine are furious.

“I don’t want to be in an Elizabeth Arden magazine,” said one advertiser. “You pay for newsstand pull and it’s a hideous cover.”

“I think for an advertiser it’s awesome, but it breaks the integrity of the magazine,” said Gerard Harris, president of Prism Marketing & Communications.

David Pecker, ceo of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, said Arden had approached him with the idea after seeing split covers on European editions of Elle. He said Elle will poly-bag the issue for newsstand sales and plans to do more of them. Pecker said he hasn’t gotten any flak yet.

WAIF TO WOMAN: Randy Kemper has anted up with $500,000 for his first ad campaign ever, and he’s taken on a big challenge in the process: making a woman out of a waif.

“Amber [Valletta] has always been personified as a waif, but she has the kind of beauty that’s timeless,” said Kemper. “I thought, ‘What if we dressed her as a woman for once?”‘

Pinned, tucked and duct-taped, Valletta looked the part of a Thirties silver screen star aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., where the Kemper shoot took place. Ads will run in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W and Travel & Leisure.

LIBBY’S RUN: Libby Edelman, executive vice president of Sam & Libby, bares more than her soul in a pictorial in the March issue of Playboy called “Safe Sex, Great Sex,” photographed by Michel Comte. Edelman is photographed running nude on the beach. Edelman explained that Comte was the photographer for her company’s last ad campaign, and the nude shot was an out-take from the three-day shoot. “I knew it was an incredible photo and safe sex is on everyone’s mind,” said Edelman, who said she was eager to participate in a good cause. Comte gave Playboy dibs on the shot, in exchange for a contribution to AmFAR. Also appearing in various states of undress in the photo essay were Sandra Bernhard, Shannon Doherty, Carla Bruni and Helena Christiansen.

SELF IMAGE: Self Magazine plans to broaden its fashion coverage, beginning with the March issue. It has named Stefano Tonchi editor-at-large, with the responsibility of giving Self’s fashion coverage a more global view. Tonchi had been senior fashion editor at L’Uomo Vogue and continues as contri -buting editor there. Beginning in March, the magazine will expand its monthly fashion coverage to eight to 14 pages, up from two to six pages.

SECOND SHOW: VH-1 will launch a second fashion TV series in June, in conjunction with Citytv, a Toronto-based production company that produces VH-1’s other show, FT-Fashion Television. “It will be a younger, kind of tongue-in-cheek look at style,” said one insider.

NADJA NOW: She’s the new model of the moment, and the Europeans just can’t get enough of the voluptuous Nadja Auermann, who’s starring in a 12-page ad portfolio for Valentino, which makes its debut in the March issue of Italian Vogue. She can also be seen in spring campaigns for Gianfranco Ferre, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Molinari Blumarine, Gilmar, Trussardi, Christian Dior-France and Neiman Marcus.

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