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THEY’RE LONELY, BUT THE PAYCHECKS HELP: Though the intent of the Mediabistro dinner Tuesday was for women’s magazine editors to pick up tips from editors in chief, several panelists sounded positively wistful about the loneliness at the top. Said Blueprint’s Sarah Humphreys, referring to her staff, “You’re not one of them any more….They’re talking about you.” Us Weekly’s Janice Min told of discovering a Facebook group of her employees and wondering, “Would they be bummed if I added myself to it? Part of any office is that you bond over who you hate.”
Asked what skills they envied in their publisher counterparts, all the editors stressed the need to develop a business sense and to learn how to articulate and sell the magazine’s vision. And Glamour’s Cindi Leive said, “Editors like to make fun of publishers for their team-building language and their trust exercises. But the truth is, you do have to do things to make your employees feel valued.” Real Simple editor Kristin van Ogtrop said she wished she had the “patience and diplomacy” of her publisher in the face of often-absurd advertiser demands. “There’s not necessarily more pressure [to appease advertisers], but the requests are getting stranger,” she said — without, unfortunately, being specific.
In an age when wrangling a hot celebrity is make or break on the newsstand, editors are also fielding ever-crazier requests from celebrity publicists. Susan Schulz, editor of Cosmogirl, recalled a celebrity’s request to have her hairstylist paid $10,000. “We’re put out on a shoestring. We were able to get it down to $2,500, which is not really a proud moment in my life — I got a celeb’s hair done for $2,500.” (Perhaps she should have gotten John Edwards’ barber.)
Despite the panel’s apparent mission, panelists underplayed their ambition — which, of course, is easy to do now that they’re at the top of the masthead. Van Ogtrop said she hadn’t come into the industry with a plan: “It feels like I was walking down the street, looked the wrong way and fell into a hole….I’ve never had a plan, but if you’re good at what you do, you’ll make it happen.” Min struck a similar note: “It’s off-putting when a junior employee tells you they want to be editor in chief.” Instead, she said, the key is to be indispensable. So when Bonnie Fuller left Us Weekly, Min said, “I was the easy solution. Make yourself the easy solution.”
But Min was less voluble when moderator Sally Koslow asked panelists for their worst boss experience. “Let’s start with you, Janice,” she said. “Wow,” said the veteran of both Fuller and Jann Wenner’s employ, laughing a little nervously. “Wow. Can we come back to me?” She eventually stressed the need to draw boundaries. “I don’t need to be called on Saturday,” she said. “Or seven times on Saturday.” Whomever could she be talking about?
— Irin Carmon
IN THE BUFF: Bluefly, the off-price fashion Web site, is taking nudity to a level of absurdity with two TV ads that first aired on Wednesday’s season premiere of “Project Runway.” Nudity has been a theme in Bluefly ads previously, but there is a touch of Americana injected in this round. In one ad, it’s Thanksgiving dinner with a nude woman raising a toast and her family acting as if nothing is amiss. Another spot has a woman waiting in the airport security line until she’s asked to remove her shoes — the only thing she’s wearing — before embarking to her gate.
The ads feature the voice of Brenda Strong, narrator of “Desperate Housewives,” and were directed by Luciano Podcaminsky and created by advertising firm McCaffery Gottlieb Lane.
Melissa Payner, Bluefly’s president and chief executive officer, said the ads speak to a common complaint among women: “Our closets are packed to the gills, yet we have nothing to wear.”
The commercials will also run during “Gossip Girl” and “America’s Next Top Model,” among other shows. Previous ads depicted a woman dissatisfied with her wardrobe appearing at a party in the nude, and a couple getting ready for the theater but then dropping their tickets and clothes for another round of intimacy.
— David Moin
HALF A CENTURY: Eight years after publishing its first issue with only 16 ad pages, V Magazine recently hit the 160-page ad mark and is celebrating its 50th issue, which includes a 50-page portfolio from David Sims. Stephen Gan, editor in chief and creative director (as well as creative director of Harper’s Bazaar), said the independent magazine has become “a creative showdown between photographers and stylists, but in a healthy way.
“We treat photographers as artists,” he added. “We give them room and freedom to play, pushing fashion photography forward.” He also described the magazine as a cross between underground and fashion establishment, noting that it is a place where celebrities such as Brad Pitt, photographers and stylists go to do work “outside of their stereotype.”
For example, Gan said V was the first magazine to feature Kate Moss on a cover, following the controversial photos published in the U.K. in which she was shown allegedly taking drugs. “David [Sims] shot her in daylight with hardly any makeup; there was no stylist. She just picked out her favorite piece, from Ralph Lauren, and it ended up being one of the best-selling covers.” V, in 2003, also gave a Chanel-clad Daria Werbowy her first cover. Coincidentally, Werbowy was later hired to appear in a Chanel ad campaign. And before becoming the editor in chief of Paris Vogue, Carine Roitfeld worked with V as a stylist, collaborating with Mario Testino on several different portfolios. “We want to continue to do something independent and creative,” Gan added. “And keep it edgy and fun.”
— Amy Wicks