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OSTLER’S TATLER: Could there be a more challenging time to be taking over Tatler, the glossy London monthly famous for its celebration of old and new money, the ruling classes, It-kids and their ilk? Catherine Ostler, the editor who replaced Geordie Greig earlier this year, is tackling her role at the Condé Nast UK title with relish, cutting out much of the fluff and giving the fashion and society title a harder, newsier edge.
“Tatler had got very bling, and it just can’t be that way anymore. Adoration of the dubious rich and pointless people is just not on,” said Ostler. “We can still do the fantasy, escapism and glamour — together with good feature stories. I’d like to bring a level of meritocracy — and coverage of exciting, current, fashionable people.” Ostler has gradually begun putting her stamp on the title with the last two issues.
This story first appeared in the June 19, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
July’s cover story is Georgina Chapman, and features range from the goings-on inside Bernie Madoff’s London headquarters to the strange relationship between L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her gay pal Francois-Marie Banier to Sun editor Rebekah Wade and her “comedy Sloane” fiancé Charlie Brooks, brother-in-law of Amanda Brooks.
Ostler is not planning any major masthead purges, but new appointments include Annabel Rivkin as executive editor and Chris Whale as art director, both of whom worked with Ostler at ES Magazine, the Evening Standard’s weekly lifestyle title, which Ostler edited until earlier this year. She and her team are also working towards Tatler’s 300th anniversary in the fall. The November issue will mark the milestone, and the magazine will hold a launch party and tercentenary celebration on Oct. 14.
A VOGUE DEPARTURE: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff — the right-hand woman to Anna Wintour in organizing the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and 7th on Sale — has resigned from the magazine. Winston Wolkoff began her career at Vogue as manager of public relations and went on to become the director of special events, and her role near the center of the Costume Institute Gala stirred praise and pique from those not seated well. “It’s so hard to walk away from it all, but 11 years and three children later, it’s just time for me to step away and spend more time with my family,” said Winston Wolkoff. A spokesman said a replacement has not been named yet.
— Amy Wicks
BOOKS R US: When Rolling Stone published a 134-page special issue on President Obama in December, the magazine projected it would sell 100,000 copies on the newsstand. Instead, more than 300,000 copies were sold, and it led Us Weekly, another Wenner Media title, to forge a similar project that will hit newsstands June 26. The celebrity weekly has chosen the actors from “Twilight” as the subject of its first “bookazine,” which is already number one on the Barnes & Noble best-seller list, a week before it will even be on sale. “We knew this would be something that would be a slam dunk with our readers,” said editor in chief Janice Min. “The interest from our readers in ‘Twilight’ is undeniable and everyone is talking about Robert Pattinson, partly because we’ve been in a real hunk recession.” A spokesman said 450,000 copies will hit newsstands, at $9.99 a copy. In August, Us will publish another special issue, on celebrity hair. Min also said usmagazine.com will debut a redesigned site later this year. And given Us’ covers lately, could a Jon and Kate Gosselin book be far away?
ONE AND ONLY: The bookers at French Vogue must have had an easier time of late: The fashion title only booked one photographic duo and one model for the forthcoming August issue. Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin were tapped to shoot all the fashion pages for the issue with Daria Werbowy.
— Natasha Montrose
LONDON FUSION: The Communications Store, the London-based public relations company whose clients include Versace, Net-a-porter.com, John Frieda and Peninsula Hotels, is broadening its reach. The company has joined with the creative agency Saturday Group to form a separate venture called The Design Store, which will offer services ranging from brand-building and corporate identity to ad campaigns, packaging, print and online marketing services. Oliver Walsh will head the new venture for Saturday and work alongside The Communications Store principals Julietta Dexter, Tom Konig Oppenheimer and Daniel Marks at their London offices. “Historically, we’ve outsourced the visual part of what we do, and as a result we’ve had no quality control. This is a way for us to be closer to our clients, and to offer them more,” said Dexter. Saturday, founded in 2003 by two former employees at Winkreative, Jens Grede and Erik Torstensson, has clients including H&M, for which it produces TV, print and in-store ads; Bally; Kurt Geiger; Hogan, and Boots. Grede and Torstensson have a stake in Relative MO, the London PR agency, which also handles sales for companies including Giles, Markus Lupfer, Richard Nicoll and Topshop Unique. They have also formed a joint venture with the longtime London agent Duncan Heath to hook brands up with celebrities for campaigns and promotions.
— Samantha Conti
LONELYGIRL MISSED OUT: Weatherproof Garment Co. is betting that user-generated videos popular on sites like YouTube will help boost sales of its new younger line of coats, called 32 Degrees. The company just unveiled a partnership with Tadcast, a year-old business that places products in popular online videos, the most successful of which can generate tens of millions of views “Product placement in a viral setting has tremendous potential to reach a younger audience. Within the next few years, the Internet will be what television is today,” said Eliot Peyser, chief executive officer of Weatherproof. Tadcast pairs its clients with rising Youtube stars. For the Weatherproof video, it tapped user Nigahiga, whose parodic shorts garner up to 2 million views. In the two-minute piece, a young man satirizes the maudlin plotlines typical in Asian dramas, all while wearing a Weatherproof 32 Degrees T-shirt. Since debuting on Monday, the video has racked up more than 700,000 views.
Tadcast co-founder David Parker, a 26-year-old graduate of Harvard Business School, said user-generated videos are a vital and largely untapped means of connecting young consumers to brands. “Some brands have trepidation about entering the social media space, but it is the best way to reach these kids who don’t watch as much TV,” he said. It’s good news for the amateur producers, too: Product placement deals pay out between 1 and 10 cents per view. Tadcast also has Hollywood muscle behind it. Cofounders include Nancy Tenenbaum, producer of the “Meet the Parents” movies, and Guy Riedel, executive producer of “Cloverfield” and “Wedding Crashers.”
— Brenner Thomas
ATLANTIC WEB: General interest magazines that pride themselves on their meaty, well-reported features initially made tentative steps towards the Web, in the belief that near-instant content was not their value proposition. While that’s still the case in some quarters, the 152-year-old Atlantic has opted for full-throated embrace. First came the Yankees-style coralling of noted Internet voices like Andrew Sullivan and homegrown blogs with increasing influence (Ross Douthat was also a magazine staffer, but his Atlantic blog was said to play a significant role in his selection as New York Times op-ed columnist) that served the Atlantic well during the presidential election. Since February, they’ve beefed up the offerings with “channels” for food, politics and business (culture will be added in the fall) that feature original and aggregated content, as well as about 18 “correspondents,” well-known figures such as Judge Richard Posner who, Huffington Post style, blog for free in exchange for a prominent platform.
Two summer-long features debuting that marry the timeliness of blogging with reporting chops from magazine writing are “Prepared for the Worst” and “Recession Road Trip.” In the former, Atlantic staffer Graeme Wood, who spent significant chunks of time freelancing in Iraq and Afghanistan, is visiting those countries, plus Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Republic of Georgia, Somalia and Sudan. And freelancer Christina Davidson has already left for her four-month drive through all 48 states in the continental U.S. to report out the economy’s effect on regular people. (Don’t worry. She’s driving a Prius.)
Behind all this is Bob Cohn, a lifelong magazine guy who was executive editor at Wired and is now editorial director of TheAtlantic.com. “I spent the last 23 years in a highly edited world, either as the guy being edited or the guy doing the editing,” he said. “It’s different, and liberating, to be working with bloggers where stuff goes up in quick and raw fashion.” With a few exceptions, the Web material is unedited. “The way we handle that is through careful selection of who writes for us as opposed to careful editing after they write,” Cohn said.
By the way, the belief that long, polished stories die on the Web isn’t always borne out. The Atlantic’s June cover story on a longitudinal study of happiness had over 1 million page views. Separately, almost 200,000 people printed it out.
— Irin Carmon
HARDY BOYS: Taking advantage of falling billboard prices, tattoo-inspired label Ed Hardy’s first worldwide campaign, shot by David LaChapelle, will break in the U.S. on July 1. The photographer, who’s shot celebrities from Mick Jagger to Madonna, rooted through the Ed Hardy archives to for its better-known tattoo designs. The end result is a vibrant splash of color, featuring the label’s iconic tiger motif, a mermaid, a devil and a geisha, plus founder Christian Audigier. “It’s Ed Hardy comes alive,” said Audigier, adding the shoot itself was a rather lively affair. “We started with 10 people, and by the end of the day we had about 80 people in the studio, all Dave’s friends were passing by.” The campaign, which breaks in Europe in the fall, marks a new strategy for the label, which has relied mostly on celebrity endorsements in the past. “We’ve never really advertised and we realized that like all the major brands, we needed a major photographer,” said Audigier of choosing LaChapelle. A roughly 50 percent drop in billboard prices across the U.S. was another motivation. “I love billboards; they’re more and more accessible,” he said.
— Ellen Groves
EASY BEING GREEN: Fashion magazine Above will today unveil its renaissance as an environmental lifestyle magazine. The first issue intends to tackle environmental themes in a way that’s entertaining, according to editor-in-chief and publisher Nicolas Rachline.
“We don’t want to be the National Geographic. It would be absurd to go against those giants,” he said, explaining the shift was inspired by an invasion of jellyfish in Saint-Tropez last summer. “It’s an awesome sight, a very fearful sight, a bay you usually swim in swamped with billions of jellyfish, it wasn’t natural,” he said. “It was like a switch in my mind: This can’t go on.” He happened to be en route to see Peter Beard, both a renowned photographer and conservationist, and the idea to turn Above green was born.
Guest edited by Charlotte Casiraghi, who interviewed fashion’s green queen Stella McCartney for the issue and who was instrumental in securing an interview with “Gomorrah” author Roberto Saviano (which took place in hiding thanks to Saviano’s dissection of the Mafia), articles take a wild ride from a review of the world’s first electric sports car to a transcript of a conversation with Jean Pigozzi about his new clothing line Limoland, during which Stefano Pilati ponders how jellyfish are formed. Other contributors include stylist Charlotte Stockdale and photographer Tierney Gearon.
The tone varies from the seemingly frivolous — asking fashion designers about their green habits, including how many sheets of toilet paper they use — to what Rachline terms “wake up and smell the coffee” messages, such as an article warning about the disappearance of tuna. “People don’t like to read bad news,” he acknowledged. “But we can’t just have good news in the magazine. We have to also make people aware.”
Targeting a circulation of 50,000, Above is printed on recycled paper in a more compact version of its former self. The more than a dozen advertisers in the 120-page debut issue include Paul Smith, Lacoste, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Biotherm plus environmental groups such as Greenpeace. Its U.K. price is 5 pounds, 5 euros in the Euro-zone and $10 in the U.S.