THE HARD PART: Finally, Dennis Publishing is in the hands of Quadrangle Group, with Kent Brownridge installed as chief executive officer of the publishing company. As WWD reported first in May, the private equity group and the ex-Wenner executive were most likely to acquire Maxim, Stuff and Blender from founder Felix Dennis. Sources close to the deal said Quadrangle acquired the trio for just north of $240 million, and the deal will close in the third quarter.
This story first appeared in the June 18, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
For one, Steven Colvin, former president of Dennis Publishing USA, is leaving the company, but sources said Brownridge has asked chief operating and financial officer John Lagana to stay. It’s not clear if other departures will follow, but overall, Brownridge and Quadrangle plan to add jobs, not whack them. Over the past year or two, Dennis was a “lean and mean” organization, one insider said, as the company cut costs and laid off staffers in the months leading up to the sale. Quadrangle plans to grow the male-centric media company by exploiting its mobile, print and online properties and its new casinos and steakhouses to create larger marketing opportunities. To do so, it will likely need to beef up key areas, like advertising and marketing, and will meet with existing Dennis employees in the next few weeks to learn more about each business and determine where more staffers are needed.
Meanwhile, Brownridge has already begun to reach out to top talent about joining the company. Though he declined to identify possible candidates, sources close to Brownridge said Susan Casey, Time Inc.’s development editor; ex-Maxim editor Mark Golin, or Peter Moore, the number two at Men’s Health under editor in chief David Zinczenko, could be courted by him — if they haven’t been already.
Also, though sources speculated he could close Stuff, insiders said it’s too early to make a call. Management has said Stuff fits into the company’s young male demographic. One source acknowledged that while Stuff may not fold, it could live on “in some form” — but not necessarily as a magazine.
Finally, the new owners will change the name of the company in the next couple of weeks, but don’t expect something self-reflecting, like Quadrangle Media or Brownridge Media. Sources close to the deal said Quadrangle is looking for a name that reflects the subject matter of its properties. What about Dudes Inc.? — Stephanie D. Smith
NATALIA’S SEASON OFF: Natalia Vodianova, a regular fixture in Calvin Klein ads since 2003, is being replaced in the upcoming Calvin Klein Collection campaign by Finnish model Suvi. The reason: Vodianova is seven months pregnant.
The campaign, shot by Craig McDean at Milk Studios, will also feature model Sean O. Meanwhile, many women will be happy to hear that Gabriel Aubry, Halle Berry’s model boyfriend, is returning once again for Calvin Klein. He was shot at 7 World Trade Center and other street locations by photographer Mikael Jansson. And Calvin Klein Jeans is also bringing model and musician Jamie Burke back for his second season. David Sims shot Burke and Lara Stone at Milk Studios. Stone has recently popped up on the covers of French Vogue and Japanese Vogue. The Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein Collection ads will begin appearing in magazines in August, while Calvin Klein will start in September. — Amy Wicks
CARTER CLUB: With a few coats of paint, velvet-trimmed banquettes and amusing Edward Sorel murals, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter transformed the Twenties dowager Ye Waverly Inn into a hot spot called Waverly Inn and Garden. The SoHo restaurant still hasn’t officially opened, but Carter already is said to be showing interest in opening an eatery at another historically significant site: The Oak Bar at the former Plaza hotel.
Carter could not be reached for comment, but sources said he has toured the site twice with his decorator.
Elad Properties, which purchased the Plaza in 2004 for $675 million, is painstakingly restoring sections of the hotel with landmark designation to their former 1907 glory. Elad has agreed to leave the Grand Ballroom, Palm Court and The Oak Bar intact. Elad has said it will turn 160,000 square feet into retail space for luxury brands, but retail experts have said it may be a hard sell; the windows weren’t designed for retail use and the building is set back from Fifth Avenue.
Still, The Oak Bar, one of the most fabled drinking places in New York, captures the imagination of restaurateurs. Robert K. Futterman, chairman of the real estate firm that bears his name, declined to comment. RKF is leasing the Plaza’s retail space. A source said RKF is marketing The Oak Room to top players such as Jean-George Vongerichten, Alain Ducasse and Cipriani. — Sharon Edelson and Irin Carmon
BURBERRY’S NEW BLACK: Gone are the silvery, Sixties-inspired images of seasons past. For fall, Burberry is channeling its darker side. The brand still has Mario Testino on board, and the images have been shot in the usual black-and-white. However, the models — Agyness Dean, Lily Donaldson, Georgia Frost, and Kiera Gormley — are wearing black coats and sporting some serious stares from a set made to resemble an English townhouse. Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey said it was time for a change. “The campaign is focused on the medieval mood of the show, using the Prorsum knight as a reference point for the attitude of the cast, the handmade wallpaper and the spirit and mood of the image,” he said. “We included our iconic umbrellas into the shoot to give the ever-present sense of wit and whimsy inspired by armor, function and protection.”
Ever the music lover, Bailey also tapped the English singer-songwriter Patrick Wolf; Pete Reilly and Kieren Webster from The View and Tom Atkin from The Paddingtons to pose for some of the shots. In the fall, he got Tom Meighan, Chris Karloff, Sergio Pizzorno and Ian Matthews — the four members of Kasabian — to be in the ads.
The campaign will break in August and September issues of major fashion publications worldwide. — Samantha Conti