CHEN’S DIGITAL DRAMA: Eva Chen, Lucky magazine’s young, social-media-savvy editor in chief, is learning that the Internet isn’t always so user friendly. Chen, whose Twitter following is nearing 59,000 and Instagram following totals almost 93,000, is accustomed to a lot of feedback. Up until the debut of Lucky’s December/January cover, most of that feedback was glowingly positive.

The editor is known for a good old-fashioned selfie, in which she’s bedecked in designer duds or showcasing her latest favorite beauty product. These photos tend to garner social media commentary that spans from “You are awesome Miss Chen” to “I need that bag!!”

This story first appeared in the November 14, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But when the 33-year-old Instagrammed the latest cover of her magazine featuring Kerry Washington three days ago, she was in for a surprise.

“How did they make her look so bad???? She’s so pretty,” one follower wrote of Washington, who is pictured grinning ebulliently in a Dior dress with her hair straightened and windswept.

“This is literally the worst cover I’ve ever seen and I’ve been a subscriber since the beginning,” another comment said.

Not all were negative. One commenter wrote, “Amazing! Love her!”

The Instagram received over 140 comments, the majority of which criticized the cover, which was photographed by Patrick Demarchelier and styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. Chen has rolled with the punches.

“I realize that when you put something on social media, it’s meant to be a conversation,” she told WWD. “I’m still pretty new to this [being an editor in chief]. It’s only been four months, but I’ve been active in social media for a while now. Anything on social media is up for debate. Conversation is a good thing.”

That may be true, but newsstand sales will be the ultimate test.

So far, only sales data from Chen’s first cover, Lucky’s September issue featuring Blake Lively, is available. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, that cover amassed 143,644 in total single-copy sales. While that’s more than the average for Lucky, which sold 100,063 for the first half of 2013, it’s down from last year’s September issue. Under the helm of then-editor Brandon Holley, Lucky’s September 2012 issue sold 149,700 copies, 4 percent higher.

But Chen has Condé Nast artistic director and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour in her corner, and according to the young editor, she also had her blessing for the cover.

“Anna as the artistic director was definitely aware of our cover selection and was very supportive,” Chen said, returning to the subject of Washington. “Anna always provides me with guidance. As editor in chief, it comes down to my decision — and Anna agreed.”

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