DAILY DILEMMA: When word came that The New Yorker’s Michael Specter would be profiling Valentino for the magazine’s next style special — the issue will be dated Sept. 26 — many in the fashion world wondered, what’s left to say after Matt Tyrnauer’s exhaustive piece in the August 2004 issue of Vanity Fair? Well, perhaps more than originally anticipated.
The Valentino Group went public on July 1, and since then, there have been signs that the company’s famously decadent corporate culture may be becoming, well, less decadent and more corporate, thanks to a slightly tighter belt. Valentino employees recently received a company-wide e-mail from president Graziano de Boni informing them that their subscriptions to daily newspapers like WWD, The New York Times and The New York Post had been curtailed. While a spokesman for Valentino said this suspension was due to a dispute with a subscription vendor and implied individual subscriptions would soon be reinstated, a source familiar with the e-mail said the message to staffers was clear: Start leaning on your contacts for free copies.
Even if office budget cuts are afoot, one thing hasn’t changed: Valentino’s fondness for lavish parties. During the recent couture shows in Paris, the designer hosted a characteristically elaborate event at his home, and this time, spotted mingling among the glossy fashion elite and even glossier celebrities was bookish New Yorker editor David Remnick.
— Sara James
MYSTERY AT TIME INC.: Sometimes the fact of something’s being kept secret is more interesting than the secret being kept. Consider the intrigue now brewing at Time Inc. At least three high-ranking editors from outside the company have been called in recent weeks to interview for what they were told was a top position. The candidates who responded, including at least two who currently work at teen magazines, were told the opening was for a project connected to In Style, according to sources. (None of those contacted about the job would comment to WWD.)
What’s going on? One possibility is that Time Inc. has revived its plans for an In Style spin-off aimed at older teens and young adults. The idea for such a title made the rounds several years ago but was shelved after Time Warner merged with AOL. But Charla Lawhon, In Style’s managing editor, insisted there is no such project currently in development and denied any knowledge of the interviews.
This story first appeared in the July 25, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
More likely, said Time Inc. sources, the interviews were connected to the migration of Angela Burt-Murray from Teen People, where she was executive editor, to Essence, where she was named editor in chief this week. It’s no secret that Teen People has been going through a prolonged rough patch. Ad pages are down 7.2 percent through August, according to Media Industry Newsletter (although September is up 3.7 percent versus last year), and Cosmogirl recently overtook it as the top-selling teen title on newsstands. When publisher Jack Rotherham quit in March, Time Inc. handed his duties to People en Español publisher Jacqueline Hernández-Fallous rather than replace him — a move that was widely viewed as a stopgap measure.
Since recruiting a number-two editor is hardly an undertaking that requires a cover story, there could be more at stake here. Sources say time could be running out on managing editor Amy Barnett, who’s been on the job since 2003.
— Jeff Bercovici