WHO’S UP FOR ELLE?: It’s been about a month since Joe Zee, Elle’s creative director decamped for Yahoo, leaving Hearst’s fashion glossy without its most public personality. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Elle editor in chief Robbie Myers has hit some bumps finding a successor. The editor tried hiring T Magazine’s creative director Patrick Li, as well as Spring Studios creative director and T alumni David Sebbah, but both turned the job down.
This story first appeared in the May 19, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Details art director Rockwell Harwood was also approached, but initially for the slot left open by Paul Ritter, Elle’s prior art director, who decamped for Condé Nast’s Glamour last fall. Sources told WWD that Harwood was offered the job, which entailed working with Zee, but he declined the offer because the salary was too low. Since Zee’s departure, Harwood was brought back for another meeting, this one with Myers herself. Presumably, this time, the potential job would encompass some of Zee’s tasks. While no offer has been extended, sources said Harwood is still in the running.
For the time being, the void left by Ritter as art director is being filled by Heiko Keinath, cofounder of creative agency Buero Swiss, as consulting design director, Myers told WWD last month.
While other names have been floated to succeed Zee — a source said fellow Hearstite Laura Brown, Harper’s Bazaar executive editor, is very interested — the leading candidate right now is Alex Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, who has a mini-empire of his own at Hearst serving as executive artistic director at Town & Country and artistic director at Marie Claire, has been asked to work on Elle. In order to come on as the title’s creative director, he would most likely have to give up Marie Claire, sources told WWD. Marie Claire editor in chief Anne Fulenwider declined to comment, as did T&C editor in chief Jay Fielden.
Why shed Marie Claire and not T&C? One source speculated that Marie Claire is considered by Myers a competitor to Elle. As a result, the editor would demand that Gonzalez work on Elle exclusively. He could retain T&C, however, which targets a slightly different audience.
Working on two magazines would also justify Gonzalez’s past raise, which he was given when Glamour tried to poach him for the job it eventually offered Ritter. In order to keep Gonzalez at Hearst, higher-ups at the company gave him T&C in addition to Marie Claire.
Although nothing has been made official by Elle, sources told WWD that Gonzalez has been calling photo agents asking for advice on the switch, and that he has been putting out feelers about hiring his own team for the glossy.
Gonzalez declined comment.
A final possibility could be dividing Zee’s role among two different editors, namely a fashion editor and an art director, some suggested. Either way, that still entails bringing in some new blood.