UNDER REVIEW: The much-discussed Ralph Lauren magazine project appears to be up in the air once again.
Last spring, Polo hired Charles Gandee, the former features editor of Talk and a longtime aide to Anna Wintour, to develop the magazine, but his tenure seems to have been temporary. Gandee has departed the company, leaving a completed prototype behind. “He finished his project,” a Polo spokeswoman confirmed. “The project is complete and now Ralph and his team are reviewing it.”
This story first appeared in the February 27, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Gandee was given authority last fall to commission original photography for the prototype, prompting some observers to wonder if it had been green-lighted. But Polo seems to be taking its time deciding whether to go ahead. “There isn’t a timetable on this project,” the spokeswoman said. “It’s premature to make any kind of predictions.”
Polo has long talked about launching a magazine to reflect the lifestyle of the brand. David Lauren, who is now Polo’s senior vice president of advertising, marketing and corporate communications, founded and ran for four years the now-shuttered Gen-X magazine Swing, then joined Polo to launch polo.com, which at the start included editorial content and was supposed to kick-start the rollout of other media properties.
“People look at Ralph Lauren as a supreme tastemaker,” David told WWD in 2002. “It goes way beyond the clothing to the entire world we believe in. What we want to give them now is the works.” — Greg Lindsay
WHAT ABOUT BOB?: For the better part of a year now, men have been waiting for the magazine named after all the consumable stuff contained in its pages that was twice as smart as Stuff itself.
They’ve been waiting for Gear.
Actually, they haven’t, and for plenty of good reasons. By the time Bob Guccione Jr.’s men’s magazine closed shop last March, he had already alienated most of his subscribers by mailing issues at least a month late. Somehow, he was still relentlessly upbeat about its chances, first saying Gear would be back in September, then changing his mind a few months later and saying it would be back right about…now.
It’s not, obviously, and it seems not even Guccione has noticed. “I will say that it could happen, but it’s not something I’m going to rush. I’d much rather come out with it two years later than come out with something with weak finances right now,” he said.
Not that he isn’t planning a comeback. “In the meantime, I’m working on other deals,” he said. “There are bids being made for existing publishing companies,” in which he’s a participant, but he wouldn’t say for what, and he wouldn’t say with whom.
“I’m not operating out of ego here,” he said. “I’m not driven to show everyone it may come back. It may not.” — G.L.
FAST FORTUNES: The battle of whether it’s better to be mass versus class in the fashion and beauty industries is a blowout in favor of the H&Ms of the world, at least if you’re the person at the top. Forbes released its annual worldwide list of billionaires Thursday, and even if one leaves out Wal-Mart’s Walton family (five members worth $20 billion apiece), the fast-fashion pack is still lapping the field.
The exception is LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton head Bernard Arnault, whose fortune Forbes estimates soared this year to $12.2 billion from $6.7 billion, leading all luxury goods titans. Close on his heels, however, are Zara’s Amancio Ortega (who slipped $1.1 billion but still has $9.2 billion more) and H&M’s Stefan Persson, with $8.6 billion.
Also in the mass market crowd: department store mogul Galen Weston and his family ($7.7 billion); Nike’s Phil Knight, whose net worth rose nearly $3 billion to $7.1 billion; Philip Green, who has snapped up much of U.K. specialty store retailing, including Top Shop ($5 billion); Luciano Benetton and his family ($4.5 billion); The Limited’s Leslie Wexner ($2.9 billion); Gap’s Donald and Doris Fisher ($2.1 billion apiece); Esprit owner Michael Ying ($1.8 billion); Kohl’s William Kellogg ($1.1 billion); Land’s End’s Gary Comer ($1 billion); textile mogul Roger Milliken ($1 billion), and even another pair from Zara and H&M — the former’s Rosalia Mera ($1.6 billion) and the latter’s Liselott Persson ($1 billion).
In luxury’s corner: Luxottica chief Leonardo Del Vecchio ($6.9 billion); Pinault-Printemps-Redoute and Gucci owner Francois Pinault ($4.7 billion); Chanel’s Alain and Gerard Wertheimer ($5.6 billion between them); Hermes’ Jean-Louis Dumas and his family ($2.1 billion), Richemont’s Johann Rupert and his family ($1.7 billion), and the designers — Ralph Lauren’s $2.3 billion, Giorgio Armani’s $2.2 billion and Miuccia Prada’s $1.5 billion.
Beauty’s billionaires were more of the same — Liliane Bettencourt towered over the field, as always, with $18.8 billion, while Revlon’s owner Ronald Perelman somehow managed to have $3.8 billion to spare, and Leonard and Ronald Lauder, of Estée Lauder, follow with $3.8 billion and $2 billion, respectively.
And, while the media landscape is full of merger talk, the largest fortunes made there are mostly static. The Canadian newspaper magnate Kenneth Thomson and his family lead the way with $17.7 billion, while Donald and S.I. Newhouse Jr. are on par with $7.7 billion each. (The Newhouses own Advance Publications, the parent of Fairchild Publications and WWD.) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is further back with $4.9 billion, thanks to his holdings in his eponymous media company. — G.L.