DOG DAYS: It’s now been a few weeks without an update on one of the early summer’s most persistently buzzed about topics: the prospect of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.’ parent company, Lagardère, dealing a controlling stake in Elle and its other U.S. publications to Hearst Corp. The radio silence makes a certain sense given the potential buyer is known for its defense agency-ready secrecy, while the prospective seller is based in France, where most of the country is on its usual month-long summer sabbatical. Hearst was mum when asked Wednesday about the speculation and Hachette didn’t immediately respond. It seems the only hard fact in play is that Lagardère is due to present its first-half results to investors on Aug. 26. And if a Hachette-Hearst deal isn’t unveiled, then, well, all bets are off.
— Matthew Lynch
This story first appeared in the August 12, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
A HUNGRY FASHION WORLD: The brass over at Condé Nast International aren’t the only ones feeling out the restaurant business. Come September, Bon Appétit — now under the leadership of Elle vet Carol Smith — is getting into the food game, albeit in a less mass-market way. Indeed, the magazine is taking over parts of the lobby of Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall during New York Fashion Week to stage a branded dining experience, The Bon Appétit Café (The tag line? “Where Food Meets Fashion”). Though very temporary — it will be open from Sept. 12 through Sept. 16 — the Café will be a fully realized, open-to-all restaurant: Stumptown coffee and pastries from the likes of Le Bernadin’s Michael Laiskonis and Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in the morning; lunch between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and a “wine bar” with small plates from Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali offered from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For lunch, the magazine has enlisted Rick Bayless, Cat Cora, The Lion’s John DeLucie, Emeril Lagasse, Bill Telepan, Laurent Tourondel, Michael White, Marc Murphy and Missy Robbins to create meals inspired by the world of fashion, a twist devised by Smith. “Everyone likes fashion, but food is 300 times as big,” said Smith, who was hired away from Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. by rival Condé Nast to head up an epicurean group in April. “When I got [to Bon Appétit], I asked the marketing team, ‘Have we ever thought of marrying food and fashion?’” Smith and Co. decided to rejigger the magazine’s three-year-old pop-up Supper Club concept by placing it in a fashionable setting and timing it to the New York collections.
Smith also saw an opportunity for the magazine to raise its profile and “become that truly food-lifestyle magazine brand.” (As for future projects and forays into other industries — Hollywood, in particular — Smith wouldn’t offer details but did reveal she’d brought in Creative Artists Agency, with whom she worked during her years at Elle, to help find sponsorship opportunities and develop brand extensions. A television show is “one element,” she said.)
Less of a concern for Smith is how exactly the food will reflect trends or the clothes seen on the runways — or which designers, if any, will offer inspiration to the chefs. “I don’t think there has to be that literal of a connection,” she said. “It’s not going to be, ‘Today, Zac Posen will be making his favorite paella and Michael White is going to be there helping him.’ I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
As for the stereotype that food of any kind might be lost on the notoriously peckish fashion set, Smith isn’t worried. “You think they don’t eat, but they do. Just look at The Lion!”
— Nick Axelrod