JOLIE SET FREE: Who is Nadine Haobsh? Where is Nadine Haobsh? And when will she pop up next?
These were the questions bouncing around the magazine world on Thursday, after Haobsh, an associate beauty editor at Ladies’ Home Journal, was outed as the blogger Jolienyc.com by The New York Post. Though her revelations about beauty editors, publicists and their swag-happy behavior — no secret to anyone who’s ever worked in the industry — seemed harmless enough, her employers evidently didn’t agree. The Web site was shut down on Wednesday. The Post ran its story Thursday, and calls to Haobsh at Ladies’ Home Journal that afternoon were rerouted to another employee. At that point, a spokeswoman for the magazine declined to comment, but a woman who knows the elusive blogger said she had resigned and was headed to Seventeen.
Well, not exactly. A Seventeen spokeswoman responded with this statement: “The beauty editor position is one that requires a high level of professionalism and good judgment. Based on new information that was learned today, we have rescinded the offer.” Ouch.
Haobsh is only the latest in a series of bloggers who’ve been professionally slapped for their online activity. Not that anyone should worry too much about her landing on her feet. As of yesterday evening, she already had a publicist — her sorority sister, Jessie Fuller — and meetings lined up with at least three agents.
— Sara James
MADONNA’S MOLE: Speaking of people’s careers being jolted by their Internet postings…a freelancer in Condé Nast’s corporate sales division was recently fired after he was caught disseminating Vogue’s August cover story on the Web. The freelancer, said to be a rabid Madonna fan, evidently got a hold of an early firstbound copy, scanned the story and posted it on a fan site weeks before the issue hit newsstands. The photos then bounced around online, landing on message boards and gossip sites spoiling Vogue’s surprise. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment, but one can’t help but wonder, would the repercussions have been the same if the freelancer spirited out an early copy of, say, Gourmet? (Condé Nast, Vogue and Gourmet are, like WWD, part of Advance Publications Inc.)
This story first appeared in the July 22, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
AN ELLE OF A PROMOTION: In many ways and for many years, Gilles Bensimon’s name has been synonymous with Elle magazine. But with Bensimon’s Social Security eligibility just a few years away, it’s a state of affairs that clearly couldn’t continue forever. On Thursday, Elle parent Hachette Filipacchi Media acknowledged this, promoting Bensimon from publication director of Elle U.S. to international creative director of all 37 worldwide editions. “Gilles knows that at some point he’ll retire, and I don’t want to have to close down Elle when that happens,” said Hachette ceo Jack Kliger, explaining the move. “We want to sort of evolve and bring in the next generation while not losing the key people who make the magazine what it is.”
Bensimon, who has been the primary creative force behind Elle U.S. since helping to bring the title here 21 years ago, will still shoot its covers and about half of its fashion pages, said Kliger. But moving forward, editor in chief Roberta Myers will become more involved with the fashion coverage, and particularly with bringing in new photographers and stylists. Bensimon, meanwhile, will get more involved with the foreign editions, and may even shoot covers for some other Hachette titles, such as Premiere.
The change of roles lent an added degree of complication to the negotiations over Bensimon’s new employment contract, which concluded earlier this summer. Asked about the new terms, Kliger said, “Let’s just say it’s for longer than a year.”
Bensimon, who is 61, has repeatedly said that he is not yet ready to retire, but has also acknowledged it will be time to do so in a few years. “It’s not only my decision — it really depends on the company,” he said Thursday. As for whether the global nature of his new duties will require more time on the road, he said, “Traveling more would be impossible. I think I fly more than a flight attendant.”
— Jeff Bercovici
DRESS CODE DECODED: On Thursday, a curious memo was circulated within Fairchild, parent company of WWD and magazines like W and Vitals. Gawker.com obtained a copy, posting it under the heading “Fairchild: Fashionistas on Staff May Not Dress Like Fashionistas.” The memo, sent to current Fairchild interns and intern supervisors, was billed as a “friendly reminder” of the Fairchild dress code. Which is interesting, since in the 14 suggestions listed on the official intern supervisor checklist used at Fairchild, there is no mention of dress.
In fact, until now, Fairchild interns have only been able to turn to former interns for specific instructions on what to wear. “I was told to wear flip-flops and jeans,” said a W fashion closet intern.
“The struggle is to combine cute with comfort,” explained another. Why a struggle? A trio of interns pointed out that they spend most of their days lifting, unloading and repacking heavy trunks and dusty garment bags. They also rarely sit down, except during lunch. “People would wear heels the first day, and by the end of the day, they’d be limping,” said one.
The memo suggested a very different style of dress, one reminiscent of those buttoned-up, bygone Fifties. No minis, tank tops or flip-flops (editors and full-time staffers exempted, of course). As for that fickle fad of fashion, the skirt length, the memo didn’t mince words: “Your skirt should come at least to your knees while you are standing. While you’re seated, your thighs should be covered.” And slits in one’s skirt merely “to facilitate a view of your legs”…well, kiss that career goodbye. Men, particularly those editorial types in their tanks and tight pants, were not addressed, but can navy blazers and khakis be far behind?
The memo did, after all, say: “Business casual is crisp, neat and should look appropriate even for a chance meeting with a ceo.” Because you never know who you’ll encounter in the elevator while carting around that 30 pound trunk of Chloé.
SCREEN TEST: Talk about fact following fiction. On Monday, long-running ABC soap “All My Children” is taking a novel approach to a launch party: inviting a group of real beauty editors to a fictional launch party for a real fragrance. Lost yet? The scent, Fusion, is part of a storyline on the soap, but like its predecessor — Enchantment, another fragrance presented in a storyline last year —it will make its debut in Wal-Mart stores this fall. The launch event was cooked up by ABC and Kaplow Communications.
— Julie Naughton
SIGN LANGUAGE: Need to know a fashion designer’s birthday in a jiffy? Try dialing Kristina O’Neill, fashion features director at Harper’s Bazaar. She just wrapped up researching a well feature for Bazaar’s September issue with designers and models representing the 12 zodiac signs, all photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, who is a Virgo, by the way. “It was all Karl’s idea,” said O’Neill, explaining that the designer was intrigued by the preeminence of horoscopes in fashion magazines and the popularity of astrology among his designer peers. Stephen Gan, the magazine’s creative director, helped him conceive the story. Shooting in New York and Paris, Lagerfeld turned his lens on the likes of Donna Karan (Libra), Narciso Rodriguez (Aquarius), Roberto Cavalli (Scorpio), Michael Kors (Leo) and Tommy Hilfiger, the Aries owner of the Lagerfeld business. Donatella Versace faced a lot of competition for her sign: Taurus. “Curiously, there are a lot of Taurus designers,” O’Neill noted, rattling off the likes of Miucca Prada, Nicolas Ghesquière, Jean Paul Gaultier and Valentino. Perhaps not so curiously, key Taurus traits are determined and self-indulgent.
— Miles Socha