CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT: In Style pulled off a feat that few magazines could complete in the last six months of 2008 — the Time Inc. fashion magazine increased its single-copy sales by 6 percent, to 740,384 during the period, at a time when single-copy sales across the 535 audited titles by the Audit Bureau of Circulations dropped by 11 percent. A redesign and a new editor were just a few of the changes that helped to reenergize the brand, but its December holiday issue gave a boost to its newsstand sales. The issue sold 763,726 copies, or 25 percent more than the 2007 issue and 14 percent more than December 2006. “It’s always been about delivering the entertaining blend of inspiration and actionable,” said managing editor Ariel Foxman, who was tapped in September to succeed Charla Lawhon in the position. (Lawhon was elevated to editor of the In Style Group.)
As an example of the “actionable” part of the title’s mix, In Style has struck an exclusive partnership with the Gilt Groupe, the members-only online shopping outlet that offers sales on designer merchandise. The partnership will allow In Style readers to view sales on selected Gilt items in a dedicated section on instyle.com up to seven days in advance of their scheduled sale date. The deal is the first magazine partnership for Gilt, and marries the Web site’s 700,000 members with instyle.com’s nearly one million unique visitors a month, according to internal estimates. “There are an awful lot more people out there who, if they knew about Gilt, would want to be shopping our sale,” said Susan Lyne, Gilt’s chief executive officer. In return, In Style will have a permanent editorial presence on gilt.com, and offer additional discounts and savings to Gilt members. Gilt has plans to extend the partnership to other Time Inc. brands people.com and Celebrity Baby Blog. — Stephanie D. Smith
VANITY FAIR’S OSCAR COMEBACK: Hollywood loves a comeback, and Vanity Fair wants to make sure everyone in Tinseltown knows its one-year hiatus from Oscar Week festivities is over. The series of pre-Oscar events, christened “Campaign Hollywood” and cosponsored by advertisers BMW, Dior and Bally, begins Monday with VF portraits of Oscar-nominated and -winning actors being unveiled in the windows of Rodeo Drive boutiques, followed by a party on Feb. 18 celebrating the opening night of the BMW Art Car installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then a Feb. 19 Dior-sponsored silent auction and launch party for the Paul Haggis-founded artist charity BRANDAID. On Feb. 20, daytime festivities include a test-drive of the new BMW 7 Series beginning at Griffith Park Observatory and ending with lunch at the John Lautner-designed Garcia Home. That night’s festivities include Bally’s Hollywood Domino party on the rooftop of the new Andaz West Hollywood hotel, hosted by Bally creative director Brian Atwood and Kate Bosworth to benefit the Art of Elysium. Finally, the magazine’s famed post-Oscar party returns this year in a new location, the Sunset Tower hotel, which boasts a killer view but much less space than Morton’s. Already several regular invitees have noticed the scale back, quietly asking one another, “I didn’t get my invite this year, did you?” — Marcy Medina
CELEBRATING AFRICA: A slice of Africa’s culture and creativity are coming to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. On Friday, the launch of Arise Magazine, a new monthly title published by Nigerian newspaper ThisDay, will be marked with the African Fashion Collective 2009 fashion show at the Bryant Park tents. The event will highlight the work of four African designers or designer labels: Xuly Bët from Mali, Stoned Cherrie from South Africa and Nigeria’s Tiffany Amber and Momo. Each is expected to unveil 12 to 15 looks at the show.
“New York Fashion Week is one of the most preeminent fashion weeks in the world, and we thought it is the place to be at this time,” said ThisDay chairman and chief executive officer Nduka Obaigbena. “I think it’s about an opportunity.…Africa has been under-reported and under-recognized. Meanwhile, so many big talents have African origins. We think it’s time Africa gets the rightful recognition in the global cultural landscape, and its fashion contribution is one of them.”
Arise, which features Naomi Campbell, Liya Kebede and Alek Wek on its launch cover, is dedicated to African accomplishments in business, politics, fashion, music and overall culture, and is being sold in cities such as New York, London and Paris. President Barack Obama will be featured on the cover of the next issue.
Before the show, Obaigbena will hand the first Arise/ThisDay Icon of Style Award to Bethann Hardison.
Obaigbena plans to return next season. “We are happy to be in New York, and a part of the landscape and to show talent, excellence and creativity coming out of Africa, both in terms of the magazine and in terms of the designers,” he said. — Marc Karimzadeh
ON THE OUTS: The pool of shelter magazines is steadily shrinking, but that doesn’t mean Architectural Digest editor in chief Paige Rense has gotten any less competitive, as Carleton Varney recently learned the hard way. The interior designer, whom the magazine named one of the 30 Deans of American design, made the fatal mistake of allowing House Beautiful to publish in its February issue a Wisconsin lake home he decorated. He also had a spread in that month’s Architectural Digest, but that didn’t placate Rense, who promptly disinvited Varney from a panel she was moderating in South Florida late last month, reportedly even having the programs reprinted to leave him off. Varney confirmed the story. “Paige and I have been friends for so long, and I would never want to do anything to hurt her,” he told WWD. “But Paige likes for people to be solely hers.” Did he think he was permanently barred from the magazine? Varney laughed. “I don’t know. It’s all destiny. Certainly I hope our friendship will continue.” A spokeswoman for Rense did not respond to messages. — Irin Carmon