A NEW LENS: Joe Zee’s arrival at Elle as creative director has ushered in a fresh look, while longtime creative head Gilles Bensimon’s involvement in the magazine has gradually subsided. But the April edition will issue in a major sea change — Bensimon, who has shot the covers for Elle for more than 20 years, did not shoot them for the April and May issues. In fact, Bensimon’s work is nowhere to be found in either issue.
April’s cover with Natalie Portman was shot by Carter Smith, who worked with Zee at W and Vitals. Smith also recently directed a horror film for Dreamworks, “The Ruins,” and shot the movie’s actresses, Jena Malone and Laura Ramsey, for the magazine’s March issue. For May, Tom Munro was dispatched to shoot Madonna in Los Angeles; the issue will hit as her new album is released.
Bensimon’s visibility at Elle in the U.S. has diminished since Zee joined the title in March, and his contract with the magazine expires at the end of the year. Until then, he is expected to continue shooting covers and fashion spreads for the international editions (his official title is international creative director), and sources close to Elle say he may shoot a few more covers for the U.S. edition before his contract ends in December. Meanwhile, Bensimon has shot advertising campaigns for Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, and Iconix that are to break in fashion magazines this spring. — Stephanie D. Smith
FIRST MONROE, NOW MINOGUE: Paper Magazine held a lunch in the ballroom of the newly renovated Sunset Marquis Tuesday afternoon to celebrate its current cover girl, Lindsay Lohan, who was shot by Jeremy Scott. Lohan, back to her natural red hair and sporting her current favorite Marni pumps, was abuzz about the upcoming album she is planning to record in New York for Motown Records. “I’m recording it over the next few months, we don’t know the release date yet, but it will have a very Kylie Minogue vibe, with great beats and dance singles,” she said. While Lohan and Scott won’t be attending any shows during the upcoming Los Angeles Fashion Week, they were both fresh off flights from Europe, where Lohan attended Dolce & Gabbana and Scott showed in Paris. It’s rumored he may also present in L.A., an event for which Lohan promised to show up. — Hellin Kay
CRACKING A VICTORIAN WHIP: It was something of a cultural contrast: representatives from Hoffman Media Inc., the Birmingham, Ala.-based publisher of titles such as Southern Lady, Cooking with Paula Deen and Just CrossStitch, pitching the relaunched Victoria magazine to a roomful of potential advertisers at Le Bernadin — with Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black in tow. The magazine, which was published by Hearst until 2003 and is being revived as a joint venture between the two companies, describes itself as the authority on gracious living, and its decidedly romantic sensibility was, Black freely admitted, unfamiliar to her. (Earlier, Phyllis Hoffman, president of Hoffman Media, had cited Black’s canary yellow jacket as an example of balancing traditional femininity with business acumen.) The magazine’s hugely committed base of women and their clamoring for the magazine’s return was repeatedly mentioned, a pointed reminder there is a tremendous audience outside of Manhattan for coverage of tea time and traditional gardens.
“Our biggest challenge was — let’s cut to the chase — positioning it to the advertising community,” Black said, adding she would tell advertisers, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it. The readers get it. Maybe more than any magazine we publish except maybe O [The Oprah Magazine].”
Black also posited that the women who turn their decorative wedding cake skills into small businesses and collect antique lace for sale at antique fairs should be seen as entrepreneurs, even if they wouldn’t use the word themselves. Still, when it came down to it, the executive, who last year published a motivational business book aimed at women, opted for businesslike bluntness over sweet talk. “You can buy it on the newsstand, you can subscribe — or you can advertise,” she said during dessert. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” — Irin Carmon
CERTIFICATES OF AUTHENTICITY INCLUDED: Author James Frey is also apparently an art enthusiast (Richard Prince did the cover of his new novel) and has partnered with Andy Spade and Bill Powers on a new gallery on Forsyth Street in Manhattan, called Half Gallery. The 350-foot-space will feature emerging artists, beginning with Matt Damhave, co-founder of Imitation of Christ. Damhave’s drawings will debut sometime in April. The trio has leased the space for one year, with the option to extend it. “We’re all collectors and we thought this would be an interesting opportunity to show artists that haven’t had this kind of exposure before,” said Powers. — Amy Wicks
TAKING OFF?: Luxus Network, a marketing platform in 100 private jet terminals in North America and Puerto Rico, which is said to generate annual revenue in the “single-digit millions,” could have another 200 locations to fly in by 2010, projected Douglas D. Gollan, president of Universal Media, which has purchased the network from the firm’s previous owner and founder, Jim Kerwin. Purchase price and terms of the self-financed deal were not disclosed.
The three-year-old marketing network, comprising 60 plasma-screen monitors and about 200 backlit, static billboards in private-jet terminal lounges, extended its reach to 20 additional locales in February, including Santa Monica and Palm Springs, Calif.; Phoenix; Dallas; Houston; Boca Raton, Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Monthly ad rates run from a minimum of $1,000 for two minutes of digital screen time per hour — time that can be combined into longer intervals each day — up to $7,500 to command a static, 40-inch-by-60-inch billboard.
Not the cautious type, Gollan predicted new advertising will find its way to the Luxus locales from Universal’s Elite Traveler title. His work is cut out for him in the fashion sector, one he called “undersold,” where Louis Vuitton is the main advertiser in the group of private jet terminals. Current Luxus clients also include Mikimoto, Mercedes-Benz and Barclays. Oracle Corp. recently bought the billboards at a private jet terminal in San Jose, Calif., to mount a presence near its headquarters, according to the Luxus owner.
Elite Traveler content will begin to air in April on the 60-screen network — which is slated to expand to 100 screens by June. (The print edition of Elite Traveler is distributed free at the jet terminals in which Luxus is established.) And the quality of ground travel at Luxus-connected terminals could be improving: Private jet-setters paying $5,000-$10,000 an hour in flight may soon be shuttling to and from their cars in something other than the “beat-up vans and golf carts” they usually hop, said Gollan, who noted he is in talks with a new provider. — Valerie Seckler