It looks like the British media scene is on the brink of a Russian invasion. After the Russian billionaire and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev bought London’s Evening Standard last month, Dasha Zhukova, the Moscow-born art gallerist, designer and partner of Roman Abramovich, has been appointed as editor in chief of POP magazine.
Bauer Media, the title’s owner, said that Zhukova will work in partnership with Ashley Heath, the title’s new editorial director, who together with former editor in chief Katie Grand was behind POP’s launch in 1999. The title has also appointed an editorial board filled with fashion-, art- and design-world luminaries, including Alice Rawsthorn, Sam Taylor-Wood, Peter Saville, Daphne Guinness and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld. The magazine hasn’t yet named the rest of the title’s editorial staff, although artist and “It” girl Olympia Scarry disclosed at the Burberry Prorsum show in Milan that she would be working with her friend Zhukova. “I am going to be artistic director,” she enthused, noting talks are already under way about the cover subject for the September issue. “Hopefully some of my art will be in the magazine as well,” she said.
This story first appeared in the March 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
According to industry sources, many of the potential editor in chief candidates whom Bauer had approached since Grand’s departure in October were reluctant to helm a title stamped with her identity. Last month, Grand launched the Condé Nast title Love. “We are working hard on a complete revamp of the magazine to provide a broader point of view, focusing also on art, contemporary culture and the globalization of all things Pop related,” said Zhukova.
Heath said Zhukova’s “international perspective,” is key to the title’s relaunch. “Dasha represents a fantastic combination of style, intelligence, youth and cultural clout,” he said. Zhukova launched her Moscow gallery, the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, to much fanfare in September, and she also runs the hip contemporary brand Kova & T with Christina Tang.
David Davis, POP’s managing director, said the relaunched magazine will “feel like quite a big change” from the existing title. “This is a new era, and it’s perhaps a little bit more grown-up, with a bit more substance,” said Davis. “Dasha is keen to have strong writing at the magazine’s heart.” POP will open a new London office along with a satellite office in Berlin, and partner with London’s Saatchi Gallery on installations and live events. The revamped title will launch Sept. 1, with a cover price of 5 pounds, or $7 at current exchange.