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ONE SIDE OF THE STORY: New York magazine this week serves up “America’s Next Top Fashion Editor,” a juicy tabloidlike tale of drama in the fashion closet via profiles of former Elle fashion director Nina Garcia and current Elle fashion news director Anne Slowey. The story, written by Gawker Media’s Maureen Tkacik, details the inner machinations of Elle; the working relationships among Garcia, Slowey, Elle editor in chief Roberta Myers, creative director Joe Zee and others, and Garcia and Slowey’s rise to fame through their respective reality television shows, “Project Runway” and “Stylista.” But while Garcia comes off looking like a well-poised fashion insider, other Elle staffers, including Myers and Slowey, look less appealing. And at least one of them — Myers — isn’t pleased.
Tkacik, for one, reports that Gilles Bensimon, Elle’s international creative director, “wanted little to do with [Myers]. In photos from the rare occasions they would attend shows together, his expression is dour. He saw Myers as ambitious, insecure and overly American; she saw him as an overpaid, out-of-control spendthrift who was losing his touch.”
This story first appeared in the August 19, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Tkacik did speak to Myers via cell phone when the Elle chief was in Rome, but the two spoke about the magazine’s involvement with “Project Runway” and “Stylista,” and the motivations of magazines and their editors crossing over into television. But none of her quotes on those topics are included in the piece, nor notably, are on-the-record comments from Zee; Bensimon; Carol Smith, Elle senior vice president/group publishing director, or a spokesperson from Hachette Filipacchi Media, Elle’s parent company. The only explanation the story gives for the omissions is: “Although numerous principals and insiders were interviewed for this piece, few wanted to have their names associated with a story about the inner workings of their current or former place of employment.”
Myers on Monday responded, telling WWD she is disappointed with the quality of the reporting. According to her, neither Tkacik nor any other fact checker from New York called to confirm details of her working relationship with Bensimon or other details about her in the piece. “I strongly believe that if any reporter anywhere is going to write about why somebody did something they should have asked that person. That story is full of quotes about why I did what I did, how could they possibly know why I did anything or what motivated me to do anything in my job, unless they ask me? Even if someone else where to speculate about why I did something, the fact that nobody called me even to fact check it is egregious,” Myers told WWD on Monday.
As for her feelings on Bensimon: “I have nothing but admiration and respect for him.”
Zee could not be reached for comment, as he was out of the office filming a segment for, ironically, “Project Runway” in Canada. New York magazine editors could not be reached for comment on the story by press time. — Stephanie D. Smith
MAYBE FASHION WILL HELP SELL CARS: Instead of simply launching an ad campaign, Mini is taking over a rooftop during Fashion Week to reach out to a new target audience — the “creative class of New York.” “We’ve done this more in Europe and now we’re just beginning in New York,” said Markus Fuchs, brand manager for Mini, which is owned by BMW. Fuchs expects about 6,000 people to attend the 10-day event, which includes a workshop with L’Uomo Vogue and photographer Michel Comte, a book launch with Veruschka and a V magazine party.
The marketing effort begins Sept. 4 with an event “curated” by Jefferson Hack, along with a performance by MGMT. Fuchs said the initiative will also be live online — on Facebook and Mini’s own Web site. “This is the perfect city to begin with — it’s where we will receive the most immediate impact. This is the future of our brand and it’s where we plan to invest.” Fuchs, however, declined to say just how much Mini is investing. — Amy Wicks
A BARNEYS TALE: Coco Rocha confidently plays the title character in “Emma’s Dilemma,” Barneys New York’s fall catalogue, dropping on Aug. 30 to 250,000 homes. Emma’s dilemma will be familiar to every girl who wants to have it all — and what girl doesn’t? Especially when it involves shoes by Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, frocks by Lanvin, Valentino and Versace, and baubles by Cathy Waterman and Irene Neuwirth. “Making decisions has never been my strong point,” says Emma, sounding a familiar theme. “When faced with a chocolate eclair or a macaroon, I dither and procrastinate and end up nibbling on both.”
“I thought women could relate to this story,” said Barneys creative director Simon Doonan, referring to the difficult choices fashion mavens must make. In Doonan’s story, Emma agonizes about Gustavo and Skipper. “A crossroads. A gruesome decision. An affair of the heart,” she says. “Skipper is old-fashioned. He’s a poet and a romantic. Gustavo is crazy, reckless…exhausting, demanding and devastatingly handsome.” While Emma struggles to choose between Skipper and Gustavo, she doesn’t equivocate when it comes to style.
“The theme is, ‘Oh just buy both,’” said Doonan, adding that even though the economy is fragile, the catalogue’s message is right for these times. “Embedded in there is permission to be a little self-indulgent. It’s a bit of glamorous self-indulgence.”
Lina Kutsovskaya, recently named vice president of advertising and art director at Barneys, said, “Our goal is to make mailers with iconic, evocative imagery while being inspired by individual style and contemporary culture.” Doonan wants the catalogue to be an antidote to typical fashion ads where there’s “just a logo and a girl looking stunned and staring into the middle distance. People are starved of stories when they look at fashion advertising. We try to be interesting and keep it cheeky. It’s what gives us an edge at Barneys.” — Sharon Edelson