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FACT, NOT FICTION: Instead of publishing its second fiction issue of the year, The New Yorker will introduce a new “world changers” special issue this week on newsstands. “I think one is enough for the time being,” said editor David Remnick of dropping a fiction issue. “We’ll still continue to publish fiction every week. I think we’re one of the last magazines that does.” For “world changers,” Evan Osnos has a piece about China’s “863 Program,” a government initiative aimed at catapulting China into the technological revolution that could shift the country from environmental laggard to a leading contender in the new-energy economy. Separately, John Seabrook profiled architect Zaha Hadid, whose new design, the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts, opened in Rome in November.
And advertisers appear to prefer the new idea. Ad pages rose more than 50 percent for the issue, making it the biggest of the year. Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton are among the fashion advertisers and the automotive category has seven more pages than last year, thanks to BMW, Acura, Ford, Cadillac and Toyota. Total ad pages for “world changers” is almost 69, compared with 45 for last year’s winter fiction issue. Overall, paging is up 4.7 percent for the month of December. “We’re waiting to see how retail performs because that could increase budgets for next year, but we’re feeling good about what’s happening,” said vice president and publisher Lisa Hughes.
— Amy Wicks
This story first appeared in the December 14, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
FAST FORWARD: “User experience,” online news and search engines were among the hot topics at the fourth annual Le Web conference that ended Thursday in Paris. “We have just launched a prototype with The New York Times and Washington Post called the ‘Living Story,’” Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, said in a keynote address. “We are trying to find a new delivery vehicle for news.” Indeed, user experience is key to any online endeavor for brands and aggregate sites, speakers agreed. “The future of shopping online is to be able to take control of what users say about products,” said Bjorn Kvarby, managing director in Europe and Australia of Shopping.com, whose interface allows users to search for and compare prices of items. “The emergence of mobile and social networking has advanced the way we shop and video will be next.”
Meanwhile, global efforts to increase revenues for sites are still associated with cost per click advertising. “Banners and pop-ups are no longer being used,” said Thomas Crampton, Asia Pacific director for 360° Digital Influence, a social media marketing and public relations company. “The future is sites like Faberge.com,” he said, referring to the jeweler’s Web-only venture.
Started in 2005 by Geraldine and Loic Le Meur, Le Web has grown from 250 participants to being the largest organized conference on the subject. Surrounded by countless computers and mobile devices, over 2,000 people gathered at the art center 104 in Paris. Keynote speakers also included Skype and Kazaa founder Niklas Zennström, YouTube’s Chad Hurley and Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter.
— Natasha Montrose
MARTHA’S TOP PICKS: Martha Stewart made more changes to the top of the masthead at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings on Friday. Vanessa Holden, the editor in chief of Weddings, was moved over to Living in the same role, while Katie Hatch, the style director at Weddings, was promoted to editor in chief of the title.
The moves further reflect MSLO’s move to having editors with heavy style backgrounds run their magazines as opposed to wordsmiths. Holden was the creative director of Real Simple and co-founder and creative director of Donna Hay before joining MSLO in August 2008 as editor in chief of Weddings. Hatch was a fashion editor at Blueprint until it folded in 2007, and joined Weddings as style director shortly after. She also launched her own clothing line less than a year ago. MSLO in January also named former Real Simple style director Anna Last editor in chief of Everyday Food.
At Living, Holden succeeds Gael Towey, who had been acting editor in chief since February. Towey took over when Michael Boodro, a former editor at Elle Decor, Culture + Travel and The New York Times Magazine, exited. Towey will continue with MSLO as editorial director. Holden and Hatch will report to Towey.
— Stephanie D. Smith
LOOK, BOOKS: Neiman Marcus has tapped the photographer and music-video director Matthew Rolston to shoot its spring “Art of Fashion” book, putting him in a club with Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Annie Leibovitz. Rolston’s images often evoke the flawless glamour of the Thirties. But for this project, each image was approached as a unique work with visual direction inspired by the collection, the outfit, the designer’s runway show or the designer’s philosophy. One model, Karmen Pedaru, appears throughout, with her hair and makeup done differently each time to support the theme.
— Jean Scheidnes
LOUIS’ YOUNG FANS: Girls these days grow up fast. Nearly 100 well-threaded teens crowded the Louis Vuitton Fifth Avenue boutique on Thursday night for a party hosted by Teen Vogue and MTV’s Alexa Chung. Young readers wore fashionable frocks, stood in line for manicures and makeovers courtesy of Dior, and sipped mocktails with cranberry juice and seltzer while Chung remarked on their intimidatingly evolved sense of style, saying, “I certainly didn’t know about Louis Vuitton when I was that age.” Chung has since boned up on the brand, donning Vuitton shoes, skirt and bag for the event. Abigail Breslin confessed her look is usually more laid back as well, but toted around a Louis Vuitton clutch at the party. “I wear mostly jeans and plaid shirts. I love Steven Alan. But my mom helps me dress all the time.” Emma Roberts, wearing head-to-toe Vuitton, admitted she was an accessories fanatic. “Shoes and bags are my weakness,” she said.
As the party’s 9 p.m. end time drew near, pop singer Kei$ha made a surprise appearance, provoking a stampede of girls from the second floor down the store’s staircase. “I was afraid someone was going to trip and fall,” said one concerned onlooker. Sporting a glittery makeup dollar sign over one eye, Kei$ha chatted with fans. “I’m wearing vintage,” she said. “And my hair is three days old so it’s…vintage.” Just as she was leaving, her hit song “Tik Tok” came on, including the lyrics, “The party don’t start ’til I walk in…” Indeed.
— S.D.S. and Vanessa Lawrence
MEDIA STUDIES: The impact of new media on the fashion industry was the topic of conversation at a panel discussion hosted by the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund on Thursday evening at the Times Center. With the ever-burgeoning significance of Facebook, Twitter, viral videos and blogs, bottom-up media is having a major influence on trends and the relationship between brands and consumers, noted Stuart Elliott, the advertising columnist for The New York Times. “It’s not just about seeing what Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar tells you is in style, you yourself — whether you live in Detroit or Kookamunga — can create a look, and everyone on planet Earth can read your blog and what you have to say,” he related to an audience of mostly students from Parsons, FIT, LIM and other area colleges.
Tavi — the 13-year-old fashion blogger dubbed “the reincarnation of Coco Chanel” by panelist Abe Gurko, founder of Imeanwhat.com — was held up as an examplar of the Internet’s ascendency in the realm of fashion media.
The once-exclusive club of fashion prognosticators can be crashed by anyone with a computer and modem today, but designer Brian Reyes said he enjoyed the democratization of style criticism. “I like reading blogs and what people have to say, whether it’s good or bad,” he noted. “One thing that someone said to me was that you’re never going to please everyone. If you are looking to get a compliment every time you read a blog, then you’re just silly.”
Alex Gonzalez, co-founder of ad agency AR New York, emphasized the importance of creating “the soul of a brand” before jumping into new media initiatives. “Young designers get trapped by ‘How do I manipulate the Web to get my name out there?’” he said. “But without the talent and passion, there’s nothing there.”
Other panelists included photographer Patrick McMullan, Nylon style director Dani Stahl and celebrity stylist Annabel Tollman, with the conversation moderated by Mary Alice Stephenson, a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar.
The YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund will hold its annual awards dinner on Jan. 13 in New York, honoring Margarita Arriagada, senior vice president of merchandising at Sephora; Thomas Kingsbury, president and chief executive of Burlington Coat Factory, and Robert Mettler, former chairman and ceo of Macy’s West.
— David Lipke