FROM TIMES SQUARE TO THE TIMES: Bye, Anna, hello, Bill. Sally Singer said as much Tuesday morning when The New York Times confirmed the Vogue fashion news/features director would be the next editor in chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, effective July 5. The Times’ announcement put an end to weeks of speculation about who would take over the Sunday style supplement, which has been functioning without a chief since late March when founding editor Stefano Tonchi was tapped by Condé Nast to rehabilitate W magazine. The drawn-out and secretive hiring process made for rampant rumors and misconceptions, even from those being considered for the job, such as T’s own Anne Christensen, who in the final last few weeks is said to have believed she had a lock on the job, and Guy Trebay, who sources said also lobbied heavily for the post. In a strange unfolding of events, Christensen was out of the office when the Times staffers were told the news, according to sources. Equally curious, George Gene Gustines, T’s managing editor, wasn’t there either — he was on vacation.
Insiders say Singer, whose candidacy was first reported by WWD, vacillated for some time between taking the plunge and accepting the T gig and staying at the cushier — and probably higher paying — environs of Vogue, her professional home for over a decade. (Prior to joining the title in 1999, she was fashion director at New York magazine and also spent time at Elle and British Vogue.) Her indecision goes some of the way in explaining away the month-long delay in naming a successor for Tonchi — some sources point to possible impending upper-level management changes at the Times Magazine as a contributing factor.
This story first appeared in the June 9, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Asked what spurred her move, Singer told WWD, “It seemed like the right time to have a new challenge — and Bill Keller [the Times’ executive editor] is very persuasive,” but noted it was a “wrenching” decision to make. “I’m a very loyal person and I don’t make moves easily,” she said. (Though she declined to discuss salary, Singer emphasized her “deliberations about this job were not about practical terms. It was entirely emotional. It’s going from one job I love to another place that I love but don’t know as well.”) Singer also spoke of the excitement she felt about following in the footsteps of past Times Magazine style editors including Carrie Donovan and her predecessor Tonchi, who expressed a mutual admiration when reached for comment. “I think she’s one of the smartest people in New York,” he said of Singer. “I could not imagine better hands for my T, or a better brain.” (Interestingly, one source said Singer had been up for the T editor in chief gig when it launched in 2003 before Tonchi was chosen.)
For those wondering how the news hit Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, by Tuesday afternoon she’d already filled Singer’s slot by promoting Eve MacSweeney and Mark Holgate to features director and fashion news director, respectively. Via her spokesman, Wintour offered: “I am very happy for Sally and I know that she is going to do amazing things at T. I am also looking forward to continuing to work closely with both Eve and Mark, each of whom brings a great deal of talent to Vogue.”
While Singer — considered to be more of an intellectual than a straight fashion person by her colleagues — was mum on her vision for the multisubject T, she did say, “I wasn’t hired by Bill Keller to bring Vogue to T. I was hired by Bill Keller to do T, so it’s a different project.” She later allowed, “I imagine at some point it will naturally evolve into something that reflects more my taste and concerns than those of my predecessor. But hopefully that will be an organic process and not an imposition.” — Nick Axelrod
MORE CHANGES AT W: While Stefano Tonchi’s first few months at the helm of W have been relatively quiet on the h.r. front (most of the cuts of upper-level editors in the Patrick McCarthy era were decided before he came on board), it looks like the next few weeks will be a bit more gruesome, if Tuesday’s round of job cuts is any indication. In all, six staffers were let go, including the magazine’s longtime deputy editor Julie L. Belcove, who is being succeeded by a Tonchi-approved executive editor, Ted Moncreiff. Moncreiff comes to W from Newsweek, where he was executive editor; prior to joining Newsweek, he spent 15 years at Condé Nast Traveler, the last four as executive editor. Tonchi told WWD that Moncreiff, who begins June 21, will oversee features for the magazine, with an emphasis on assigning stories and editing, which is something, Tonchi said, “I value very much.” He added that Moncreiff comes with “a Rolodex of writers that will be very interesting for the new W.” Sources believe there are more layoffs — and, hopefully, a few hires — to come as Tonchi and Co. start in on the hotly anticipated September issue. — N.A.
IT’S A RAID: Stephen Drucker has raided Condé Nast yet again to reinvigorate Town & Country. Hanya Yanagihara, former deputy editor at Condé Nast Traveler, has joined Town & Country as executive editor. She succeeds John Cantrell, who has worked at the Hearst title for the past 25 years and is leaving the publication. Yanagihara’s appointment marks the second time he’s pillaged the hallways of 4 Times Square for talent; a few weeks ago, he tapped William Norwich from Vogue to become special correspondent covering social and cultural trends and oversee the people and parties coverage. — Amy Wicks
MICKEY TALKS — AND DOESN’T: WSJ. editor in chief Tina Gaudoin has a lengthy cover story on J. Crew chief Mickey Drexler in the upcoming June issue, out Saturday. And while the famously voluble Drexler was more than willing to recount his successes at the retailer and his infamous departure from Gap Inc., he was less forthcoming when it came to his family and friends, or visiting his homes. Indeed, his reticence demonstrates his managerial acumen. The retail guru made a point to bar the journalist from speaking to his wife and two aunts he’s particularly fond of. “They’re old,” the Bronx-born Drexler says of the aunts. “Whadda they gonna say?” — Matthew Lynch
SO THAT’S WHY GOOGLE IS WORRIED ABOUT FACEBOOK: Social networks overtook search engines in popularity for the first time in May in the U.K., according to a report Tuesday from Hitwise. Could the U.S. and other parts of the world be far behind? In May, social networks received slightly more online visits than search engines from the region, 11.88 percent to 11.33 percent, respectively. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the three most popular social networking sites in the U.K., with Facebook accounting for 55 percent of all social networking visits there. Quibbles about strict category definitions aside, this is significant because social networks could become bigger drivers of traffic to sites (such as retailers) than search engines, which have long dominated the online world. And, of course, digital marketers have already come up with a new buzzword — “social media optimization,” or SMO — to rival that old standby, search engine optimization. — Cate T. Corcoran