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COSMO COLES: Joanna Coles has been editor in chief of Marie Claire for six years, but her office reveals she may have always been a Cosmo girl at heart. On Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after Coles was named editor in chief of Cosmopolitan, the platinum blonde sat down in a leopard-print chair in her old office to talk about the transition. “I have some ideas, but I want to get there and meet everybody,” said Coles, who officially starts Sept. 10. “I have some ideas for partnerships and leveraging some of the brand and expanding various bits of it. Opening it up more editorially.” She declined to provide a more specific game plan but did say fashion will be covered in a different way and that she wants the magazine to have front-row representation at New York Fashion Week. Coles also said the brand will explore more TV opportunities.
This story first appeared in the September 5, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
She succeeds Kate White, the face of the brand for 14 years who has edited the magazine while publishing mystery novels in her spare time. Shortly after the news broke, White sent an e-mail to close friends and colleagues informing them that back in January she told Hearst Magazines president David Carey that she wanted to make a change. “Fourteen years is a long time — particularly in the Instagram era,” White wrote. “I will be focusing more intensely on my career as an author and speaker, and I’ll also be working on some exciting projects in the digital arena. Though I’ve loved Cosmo, I’m thrilled to be turning the page.”
White will continue to work as an adviser at Hearst until the end of the year. Coles’ appointment at Cosmo created an opening at the top of the masthead at Marie Claire that took only a few hours to fill: Anne Fulenwider was named Coles’ successor. A former executive editor at the magazine, she moves back to Hearst after a brief stint as editor in chief of Condé Nast’s Brides, where she unveiled a major overhaul in May that received a mixed reception.
Fulenwider said her staff at Brides was “surprised and excited” to hear she would be leaving. Insiders claimed they were shocked. “The timing is not the most ideal for me but it’s the most exciting opportunity and one of my dream titles so I could not pass up the chance to take it,” Fulenwider told WWD at the Marie Claire offices Tuesday afternoon, an hour or so after she broke the news to her colleagues at Brides.
Fulenwider comes back to a Marie Claire team she knows well — she hired three or four of the editors near the top of the masthead. She has the good fortune of returning while the magazine is on a roll, coming off its largest September issue ever with a 23 percent increase in ad pages to 237. The title was also one of the few to maintain its newsstand during the first half, selling an average of 199,071 copies, which was flat compared to the previous year. Cosmo, meanwhile, is treading water. In September, ad pages fell 13 percent to 146, although from January through September, ad pages were down 5 percent. Newsstand was down 15 percent for the first half, to an average of 1.35 million copies sold.
Coles and Fulenwider are friends but they will also now be competitors, fighting for cover girls, fashion news and, perhaps, editorial staff. Coles joked that they would be naked wrestling over the staff at Marie Claire. “People have already bought tickets,” she added. Of course, it’s not true. But if Cosmo becomes more like a fashion magazine under Coles, they will be head-to-head soon enough.