THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS: Americans have a lot to worry about these days — aside from the economy, their jobs and the well-being of loved ones, the pressure of appearing festive this tough holiday season just makes people even more anxious. So WWD surveyed editors in chief of some of the main lifestyle titles about how they would seek out just 10 minutes of happiness to escape their daily anxieties. Though we allowed a budget of $100 to buy or do anything they wished, most of the editors thought time spent cost-free with loved ones provided the best relief. Here are some of the suggestions:
Maile Carpenter, editor in chief of The Food Network Magazine: “I’d mail-order myself a few pounds of pulled pork from Allen & Son Barbecue in Chapel Hill, N.C., and as soon as the FedEx truck arrived, I’d heat it up (takes two minutes), pile it onto a Wonder Bread bun (20 seconds), spoon some coleslaw on top (10 seconds) and eat it in about 2.5 minutes. I’d be instantly happy, with 5 minutes left to spare.”
This story first appeared in the December 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Sally Lee, editor in chief of Ladies’ Home Journal: “I would donate it to CARE, a humanitarian organization that fights global poverty. If you need a psychological pick-me-up, then help someone in need. It will make you feel better about yourself and the world immediately.”
Linda Wells, editor in chief, Allure: “For happiness, I would buy about 10 logs of firewood, a copy of “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri or “The Boat” by Nam Le, hide the TV remotes and the video games, and light a match.”
Kristin van Ogtrop, managing editor, Real Simple: “I would buy a grande drip coffee from Starbucks (bonus: this lasts more than 10 minutes); a shoe shine at Eddie’s under Rock Center; “steal” 10 minutes of my workday time to watch YouTube at my desk when I should be doing something more productive but much less fun; buy the New York Post or People to read on Metro-North, instead of answering e-mails or reading proofs, or buy paper whites in a terra-cotta pot from Dahlia in Grand Central — they have just started selling them for the holidays, as they do every year. And they provide a couple of weeks of happiness.”
Susan Reed, editor, O, The Oprah Magazine: “I would buy the novel I most wanted to read — right now it’s “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski (incidentally, the book is an Oprah Book Club pick). I’d sit down in my living room, a beautiful, quiet place, and I would enjoy reading.”
Lucy Danziger, editor in chief, Self: “My favorite simple pleasure is absolutely free — being with my family (I call it “just us chickens” time). With a $100 budget, I’d get a frisbee, easily found for $15, and head to the beach with my two teenage kids, my fitness-minded husband and our collie/golden retriever mutt. Getting my circulation flowing refreshes me inside and out, and I just love being outside in the bright sunlight near the water as often as I can. I’d donate the remaining $85 to the Fresh Air Fund, one of my favorite charities.”
Alanna Fincke, editor in chief, Body + Soul: “The ultimate stress-free day for under $100:
• Take a power yoga class (there’s nothing better to get you balanced and centered).
• Do a DIY at-home facial (try kiwi, it’s exfoliating and smoothing).
• Get lost in a totally enveloping book (then take a nap — heaven!).
• Dinner at your house with good friends (check out “A Stress-Free Dinner Party” in our December issue for the perfect menu).
• Time to snuggle with your kids (a personal favorite!).”
Michael Boodro, editor in chief, Martha Stewart Living: “I would buy a cast-iron grill pan so I can cook dinners for friends. I want to get those elegant brown crisscross marks on meat and fish you always see in restaurants and magazine photo shoots.”
Rosemary Ellis, editor in chief, Good Housekeeping: “Whether I have 10 minutes, 10 hours or 10 days, my happiest and most precious moments are spent with my husband and daughter. It doesn’t cost a penny, yet it’s my most valuable gift.”
— Stephanie Smith
THE COUTURE PACK — OR NOT: Given the financial crisis, don’t expect a big turnout of international retailers at the couture shows in Paris Jan. 26 to 29, although the press corps will feature most of the familiar faces.
“In light of the current business and economic climate, we are taking a pass this season on the haute couture shows in January and hope to be in attendance in July,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, is also skipping the French high-fashion season. “Our focus will be on all the various pre-fall markets,” she said.
Some prominent retail figures are taking a wait-and-see approach. “After the first of January, I will review the situation and make a decision,” said Joseph Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue.
And Sarah Rutson, fashion director of Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford Group, said she’s likely to forgo a January trip to Paris, which is typically devoted mostly to pre-collections and men’s shows.
Julie Gilhart, senior vice president and fashion director of Barneys New York, said pre-collections would be her priority for her January trip to Europe. “We are trying to reduce the time as much as possible. It is a time to conserve expenses wherever we can, and travel is a big one,” she said. “We are hoping in the next year that the calendar for shows and appointments can be structured to reflect our need to reduce time and the expense of being away.”
American magazine editors don’t have a regular record of attendance at the couture, but the upcoming season will feature a strong showing from Vogue, with Anna Wintour, Sally Singer and Sarah Mower attending; Elle is sending market director Joann Pailey, and Harper’s Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey will also be there, although the magazine declined to say whether any other staffer would accompany her. No editors are going from Glamour or Marie Claire.
From T, The New York Times Magazine, Alix Browne is attending with a stylist (either Anne Christensen or a European freelancer) and editor Stefano Tonchi is still determining his schedule.
Meanwhile, couture houses said they are awaiting confirmations from clients and editors and could not yet comment on attendance levels. — WWD Staff
ROLE MODEL: Giorgio Armani is lending his well-known face to a good cause. After a campaign against the abandonment of animals and another to raise awareness of children with Down syndrome, the designer appears in large color images to promote “Prevention Guides,” a new series of health books that will sell with Corriere della Sera, Italy’s most-read newspaper, in January. The double-page spread depicts a beaming Armani shot against a gray backdrop holding one of the guides and framed by a message in capital letters that reads “Love Yourself.”
The campaign, shot by photographer Paolo Spadacini, will run in Corriere della Sera and its sister publications Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere Magazine until the end of January. “I think that nowadays prevention should be considered a way to show love to yourself and to those who love you,” Armani said. He donated his fee for the photo to Fondazione Umberto Veronesi for a research program called Mortalità Zero, focused on breast cancer prevention. — Alessandra Turra
NEW POST: Stellene Volandes, style editor at Departures, is adding another responsibility to her portfolio: She’ll be the editor of Black Ink, the magazine distributed to American Express Centurion, or Black Card, members. Volandes has worked at Departures since 2007 and currently oversees fashion, jewelry and shelter coverage in the magazine. Fittingly, the next issue of Black Ink will be devoted entirely to watches and jewelry. Volandes replaces Lisa Gabor, who fell prey to the personnel cuts at American Express Publishing in October. — Irin Carmon
THOSE WHO CAN’T DO…: Of all of the things writer-provocateur Toby Young has been called, “educational example” is not among them. Nonetheless, the London-based Young, whose memoir of working at Vanity Fair and in New York was recently made into a film, is trying to start a school. Specifically, he wants to import the charter school model to Britain, starting with West London. “At the moment, people in this country only have two alternatives: They can either send their children to private schools, which cost a lot of money, or to the local public school, most of which aren’t very good,” Young told WWD. “Why should a decent education be something that only rich people have access to?” He said the school is in the “planning” stages.
Young is a particularly motivated founder, since he has four children. In February, he wrote a column for the Spectator entitled, “I can’t afford to send my children to private school — and I’m relishing the cachet.” (Apparently the cachet of state-run schools had its limits).
Nor can Young reasonably expect a Hollywood windfall, since “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” did not wow the American box office: In the U.S., it brought in only $2.8 million — a tenth of the reported budget — though it did manage to be number one in the United Kingdom in its opening weekend, earning about $7 million there. — I.C.