FASHION BATTLE: The fashion houses doing couture may be dwindling fast, but the party circuit certainly isn’t — thanks to Condé Nast Publications. Two of its magazines will duke it out in Paris next week with separate bashes to introduce their fashion editors. The New Yorker editor in chief David Remnick appears to suddenly have found a love of fashion and, with vice president and publisher Lou Cona, will host a party Monday to introduce new fashion editor Susan Morrison. Not to be outdone, a day later, Vanity Fair’s editor in chief Graydon Carter will throw a dinner to celebrate designer Diane von Furstenberg and fashion and style director Michael Roberts, who was previously fashion editor at The New Yorker for nine years.
The parties aren’t the only overlap between the two magazines — Cona spent five years at Vanity Fair before joining The New Yorker. But besides the uncanny timing of the Paris fetes, Remnick has never been known as a fashionista. For one, instead of replacing Roberts when he left in the spring, Remnick added fashion duties to Morrison’s responsibilities, which already included being the magazine’s articles editor. Prior to The New Yorker, she’d done a two-year stint at Vogue.
But lots of ad dollars emanate from Paris, and Cona will clearly court the big spenders. “For David to do a party in Paris is a little odd,” said one insider. When previous publisher David Carey (now at Portfolio) was there, Remnick attended lunches or dinners with Prada or Armani, but never hosted an event. Moreover, Remnick already held a party during New York Fashion Week at his home in the fall, reportedly at Cona’s request. “If David can get there, it’s all Lou’s doing,” said the source.
That said, Remnick seemed excited about the trip. “It’s a meet-and-greet, and I think a lot of those people don’t know me at all or the magazine as much as I’d like. It’s something I’ve never done before. I thought it would be a fun and interesting trip to make.” He’s also going to check out a “bunch of shows” during his Sunday-through-Wednesday jaunt.
When Remnick returns, he’ll most likely prep for The New Yorker Conference/2012: Stories From the Near Future, a two-night gathering of innovators, thinkers, designers and other needle-movers to be held May 6-7. The idea is to break out of the mold of traditional business conferences and call to action ideas in tech, business and beyond that can be implemented in the near future. “I’m interested in originality of ideas and not conventional credentialism,” said Remnick. “It’s not an opportunity for ceo X to talk about the ceo’s company and give an annual report of their company. Bo-ring!” But isn’t that also what Portfolio has promised it will do with its conferences? — Stephanie D. Smith
NOT-SO-EXTREME MAKEOVER: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, In Style certainly has had a lot of admirers since it arrived on the scene. The question is, will the same trend occur now that the magazine has finished freshening up its pages? The February issue, with cover girl Hilary Swank, represents what is the latest chapter in the magazine’s changing look. “The front of the book was last in the plan,” said Charla Lawhon, In Style’s managing editor. She added new sections, including Sneak Peek, which provides pictures and captions for five of the magazine’s favorite stories. Another is Style Diary, formerly called Fashion Flashback. Style Diary features large photos of a celebrity, documenting their fashion changes on a monthly basis, whereas Fashion Flashback went further back in time and contained smaller pictures “that couldn’t show the fun and excitement of the clothes,” Lawhon said. “At this point, looks change faster and it needs to feel more recent.”
The changes clearly are an attempt by In Style to reverse its newsstand slide. While women’s magazines overall have suffered, In Style saw single-copy sales fall 9.4 percent in the first half of 2006, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. And clearly more changes lie ahead: Just as Lawhon put the finishing touches on the last section of In Style, Time Inc. editor at large Ariel Foxman has entered the picture to “keep evolving” the magazine. “Ariel understands the DNA of the magazine and he’s like a member of the staff,” Lawhon said. “We’ll keep finding new ways to do things.” — Amy Wicks