MARY-KATE, POSTER CHILD: The trouble with celebrity spokesmen is the ease with which they can come to stand for the exact opposite of the values they were hired to embody. Take Mary-Kate Olsen. Back in May, when she and twin sister Ashley signed on to star in a “Got Milk?” ad, the elfin actress declared in a press release, “We want to help make sure our fans are healthy like us.” That, of course, was before headlines like “Saving Mary-Kate” and “Eating Disorder Crisis” began appearing in celebrity magazines such as Us Weekly and People. This week, Star claimed Mary-Kate is being treated for cocaine addiction as well as anorexia (which the family has strongly denied). Suddenly, the image of the Olsen girls with white smears on their upper lips — such as the one that will appear on a tear-out poster in the August issue of Teen People — no longer seems quite so wholesome. A spokesman for the Milk Processor Education Program, the dairy industry group behind the “Got Milk” campaign, said Mary-Kate’s personal struggle did not invalidate the message behind the ad. “The fact that she’s seeking help is definitely a positive step,” he said. “It may even inspire teens with the same disorder to seek help.” Nevertheless, he said, future runs of the ad have been canceled “out of sensitivity for her situation…It has nothing to do with any of the rumors about what has appeared in the press.”
— Jeff Bercovici
EAU DE CLOVE: A year ago today, Gawker.com revealed that Condé Nast chairman S.I. Newhouse Jr. (parent company Advance Publications Inc. owns WWD), was garlic-averse and had banned all traces of the bulb from the Condé Nast cafeteria. But last week, a pungent aroma was wafting through the Frank Gehry-designed space. The cafeteria’s visiting chef, Shane McBride of Manhattan’s Oceo restaurant, was preparing a socca chickpea pancake filled with braised lamb shank and topped with a tomato ginger marmalade and raita cucumber yogurt sauce. About 80 of the wraps were served before several Condé Nast employees — who apparently have highly sensitized palates after years of spice deprivation — noticed trace amounts of garlic in the dish. “Nobody said anything to me [about the ban],” said a stunned McBride, reached this week by phone. “I can’t believe they could even taste it,” he added, saying, “In 50 pounds of lamb, there were only four cloves, and that was just in the braising liquid” — which also contained fish sauce, coriander and honey.
Calls to the Condé Nast cafeteria confirmed the no-garlic policy is still very much in effect. “We verbally tell all of our visiting chefs that garlic is not allowed,” said a source. A Condé Nast spokeswoman added, “We have a no-garlic policy that is strictly enforced. Shane has cooked here before, and it has not been a problem in the past. This time, we were not aware of any garlic in the dish, but it certainly was not in any food prepared on site.” The spokeswoman declined to reveal whether Newhouse, who was dining at his usual table with New Yorker editor David Remnick, caught wind of the gaffe. — Sara James
EDITRIX, FOR A MONTH: In keeping with the habits of upper echelon fashion and media types, Lesley Jane Seymour is taking August off. Well, sort of. The Marie Claire editor in chief has handed over the reins of the magazine to 24 guest editors for the August issue, allowing participants such as Alicia Keys, Nicky Hilton and Ashley Judd, who appears on the August cover, to conceive, execute and write — make that dictate — their own stories, “As told to…” The collaborative effort continues the tradition of guest editors, which Marie Claire pioneered in January 1998, sending then-cover girl Gwyneth Paltrow to a deserted island off the coast of Belize for three days, armed with only a tarp, pocketknife, ball of twine and a few root vegetables to sustain the willowy actress. “I didn’t want to go back and do exactly what [former editor in chief Glenda Bailey] had done,” said Seymour, who previously allowed screenwriter and director Kevin Williamson and friends to guest edit the September 1998 issue of YM. “I think you can take a concept that has the DNA of a magazine, but spin it and freshen it up, and that’s what we did [with Marie Claire].” Of course, in this case, the DNA contains more than a few genes from the annual celebrity issue of WWD’s sister publication, Jane, which editor in chief Jane Pratt has been doing since 1998. But, as the saying goes, there are no new ideas in publishing.
For her part, Hilton helped style her own photo shoot, which shows the celebutante, E! commentator and fledgling fashion and jewelry designer — not to mention rare member of the Hilton clan without a reality show — posing as an editor during L.A. Fashion Week. “I think Marie Claire is a reasonable magazine,” Hilton said. “It’s cool how they’ll mix a $4,000 skirt with a Banana Republic top.” When the unlikely postmodernist was asked who she would have put on the cover, Hilton replied: “Tom Ford looking hot and sweaty. I think he deserves it after all he’s done for fashion.” — S.J.
ONE FOR THE FELLAS: Web surfers got an advance taste of what CondéNet’s new men’s fashion site will be like this week as Style.com carried coverage of the spring 2005 shows in Milan and Paris. It’s the first time Style.com, whose audience is 90 percent female, has covered men’s fashion. The men’s show coverage is promoted with a prominent link on GQ.com, which hosts 150,000 unique visitors a month, according to Dee Salomon, Style.com’s senior vice president and managing director. The men’s site doesn’t have a name yet, but it does have a launch date: late January. The site — a joint venture of Vogue and W — will serve as the online home of GQ and Details, although other titles may get folded in later, said Jamie Pallot, CondéNet’s editorial director. About 60 percent of the content will be fashion- and shopping-oriented, with the rest consisting of what Pallot called “pop culture-type stuff.” “I want it to be very newsy and timely and sort of bite-sized,” he added. CondéNet, Vogue, W, GQ and Details are all units of Advance Publications Inc., parent of WWD. — J.B.