A few weeks ago, Michael Clinton invited Carol Smith, the former Elle publisher, who spent one very high-profile minute at Condé Nast as head of the food group, out for a cup of coffee at Europa Café. Clinton, publishing director of Hearst Magazines, had just learned that Town & Country publisher Jim Taylor was resigning and relocating his family to Cape Cod. There was a publishing job to fill.
He didn’t speak with Smith about that title but about taking over Harper’s Bazaar. “I didn’t have to talk her into it,” said Clinton. “She is the perfect fit.” Smith’s appointment meant longtime Harper’s Bazaar publisher Valerie Salembier would move to Town & Country to succeed Taylor. “Valerie was ready for a new assignment,” Clinton claimed.
Smith’s return to fashion magazine publishing on June 1 will undoubtedly shake up the category. When she left Elle in April 2010, it was on a high note, with more advertising pages recorded than rival Vogue had in 2009 (although this may have come at the expense of revenue). It was also during Smith’s Elle tenure that she signed the magazine on as a sponsor for “Project Runway.” Now Smith’s role will be a little different, as part of a newly created fashion trifecta at Hearst, with Marie Claire and Elle (assuming the deal is finalized this summer). And she joins a title that had a tough go in the first quarter, down 11 percent to 370 ad pages, according to Publishers Information Bureau. When reached by phone on Monday afternoon, she declined comment about Hearst and Harper’s Bazaar, saying only that she was “thrilled” to be back. In the cut-throat magazine industry, she may be the only one.
Speaking of Town & Country, Taylor isn’t the only one departing. Sarajane Hoare, the magazine’s fashion director, resigned on Monday. She joined in October as a guest fashion director to direct editorial for the March issue. “It was a great challenge to make Town & Country more relevant for today, but that challenge is over now for me,” Hoare told WWD. A Hearst spokesman hadn’t commented by press time about whether a successor had been chosen. Hoare is the latest departure under new editor in chief Jay Fielden, who has been shaking up the staff assembled last fall by his predecessor, Stephen Drucker.