MOVING ON UP…TO 43RD STREET: Stefano Tonchi went into work at Esquire on Monday morning and, according to sources, told editor in chief David Granger that he was leaving for the Style editor post at The New York Times Magazine. This confirms a report that ran in Monday’s WWD saying Esquire’s former fashion creative director was the top choice for the job. An announcement of Tonchi’s appointment should come from the Times today or Wednesday.

The position, which opened up after Amy Spindler became ill, is one of the most prestigious jobs in fashion journalism. During Spindler’s tenure, Fashions of the Times became a critical and commercial success. Advertising skyrocketed, reaching a high of more than 140 pages in the fall of 2002, despite being one of the worst years on record for the rest of the magazine community. Spindler will become a cultural critic when she returns to the paper.

Under Spindler, the Times magazine also launched Style and Entertaining, another biannual fashion supplement edited by Billy Norwich, bringing the total number of publications she oversaw to eight per year (the Times also publishes Home Design and Men’s Fashions of the Times twice a year in addition to weekly style coverage).

Most sources inside the Times think Tonchi’s role will be slightly different than his predecessor’s. A stylist rather than a writer, Tonchi may not oversee things like the weekly food coverage, which had typically fallen under Spindler’s watch. He also will have some of the same constraints Spindler did. Many on the department’s staff are members of the Times’ union, and their style backgrounds makes them difficult to move within the company, should Tonchi want to put some of his own people in place.

Tonchi beat out a group that included Vogue fashion news-features director Sally Singer and Time Style & Design editor Kate Betts. — Jacob Bernstein

FRESH POWDER: Jason Binn is heading to the slopes next summer to add a fourth link to his chain of regional uberglossies. Binn’s Niche Media, the publisher of Hamptons, Gotham and L.A. Confidential, will launch an Aspen-based title in 2004 with a plan to publish at a yet-to-be-determined frequency during the summer and November-December seasons.When it does, Binn and his partner, Jerry Powers — who publishes Miami’s Ocean Drive and Las Vegas’ eponymous glossy — will have colonized all of America’s jet-set stops at a moment when city magazines appear to be hot properties. Vegas launched in June and Chicago’s Tribune Co. now competes with Binn in Los Angeles and on Long Island with a magazine named Distinction. Tribune is also taking a more serious-than-expected look at New York Magazine, several sources close to the sale process said, and, reportedly, so is Binn.

Binn, who is in Palm Springs this week for the American Magazine Conference, declined to comment on New York, but was eager to test prospective names for his Aspen title on attendees (Aspen Magazine already exists).

“How do you feel about Aspen Extreme?” he asked, before bracing himself for the answer.

— Greg Lindsay

RISING STAR:
Last week, Star Magazine rolled out its redesigned and expanded issue. With a price jump of 80 cents, to $2.99 from $2.19, the company took an enormous risk.

But while large price jumps on the newsstand can alienate readers over a period of time, and while not a home run, the initial results were fairly good. According to sources in the industry, the issue sold around 1 million copies, slightly higher than previous weeks.

“We’re very pleased with the results,” said editorial director Bonnie Fuller. “The thing is, we’re giving them an extra 24 pages, a new paper nationwide and more photos than Star ever had and a denser format, so there’s more stories. So we feel there’s great value—and I’ve got 45 minutes to close my last few pages,” she said before departing to deal with the Star’s new deadline structure.

— J.B.

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