LONDON – After 12 years on the job Katie Grand, founding editor of the Condé Nast-owned Love magazine, is leaving.
One of London’s foremost fashion editors, Grand was known for her democratic approach and bold coverage, tackling issues including size, race and gender, and taking an inclusive approach to beauty and style.
Grand always looked at fashion through the broader lens of politics and society, and her final issue of Love, which came out last month, was a testament to that: One of the covers of Issue 24 featured images of Denise Sherry Balugo, photographed by her son, the New York-based photographer Jahmad Balugo.
Denise Balugo has been fighting stage-four metastatic breast cancer for the last three years, and her son took a series of portraits while he kept her company during lockdown in Los Angeles in June.
The portraits are accompanied by an interview where the photographer talks about the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on his mother’s deteriorating health.
It is clear that Issue 24 was a swansong for Grand, who always had a nose for news and saw fashion through the lens of politics and society.
At Love, Grand had a sharp commercial sense, hammering out multi-media deals with advertisers, hosting parties galore surrounded by her many model and designer pals, and juggling her career in magazines with styling gigs for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Prada Group, Tommy Hilfiger and Hogan.
“During the most politically and socially turbulent period I believe I’ve seen in my lifetime, we produced something special that I hope reflected the unpredictable times we are living in,” said Grand in the social media post revealing her departure on Friday.
“From COVID to the #BLM protests, the team and I sought to listen to our contributors and give them the space they deserved. #lovediaries was not a fashion magazine, it was a book of photography and words that reflected this year’s chaos, soul-searching, heartbreak and – although sometimes it was hard to see – positivity and hope. This issue is the most important magazine I have ever produced. It is the one I am most proud of, it is the one that means the most; it is the one that I can’t improve on.”
Grand added that while the world has changed – and she has, too – “telling beautiful and important stories will never change. But it’s time for something new, it’s time for something different.”
Going forward, Grand will be working with Sarabande, the Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation in London, and with the Red Cross.
Trino Verkade, a founding trustee and chief executive officer of Sarabande, which offers support to emerging fine artists, designers and creatives, said that over the years Grand has been immensely supportive, and would be an asset to Sarabande going forward. Her role there has yet to be defined.
“She is very knowledgeable and gets this mix we have of artists, designers and creatives,” said Verkade, adding that Grand had a strong appreciation for both the creative and the commercial ends of businesses.
Albert Read, managing director of Condé Nast Britain, said that what Grand has achieved with Love, across its print, digital and social platforms “has been inspirational.” He said that a successor would be named in due course.
Earlier this year, Love beefed up its editorial team, naming Ben Cobb editor-in-chief, men’s; Graham Rounthwaite creative director, and Oliver Volquardsen fashion director.
Grand launched the bi-annual publication in February 2009 with Condé Nast. Before that she’d launched Dazed & Confused and Pop magazines and was fashion director of The Face.
She conceived Love as a very different magazine from the others in the Condé Nast stable. Her launch issue featured the overweight gay crooner Beth Ditto on the cover.
“She says the wrong things. She looks the wrong way. Isn’t it confounding and amazing to have an iconic figure…who doesn’t have a 25-inch waist?” said Grand in her first editor’s letter. “She is happy with who she is and the way she is.”
Grand loved tossing creative types together and watching what happened: Earlier this year she asked Kate Moss to interview Rei Kawakubo for a feature entitled “Comme on Kate!,” while the latest issue sees Jonathan Saunders talking to Christopher Kane about the latter’s passion for painting.
She was among the top candidates to take Alexandra Shulman’s place as editor of British Vogue – in the end, the job went to Edward Enninful – and was recognized at the British Fashion Council Fashion Awards as a top creative influencer for her behind-the-scenes work in the industry.