Byline: Ed Nardoza

First, a confession. Did we scour each and every back issue, day after day, decade after yellowing decade in search of the greatest interviews in WWD’s history? Let’s get real: This paper has been around since 1910.
Nevertheless, we braved as much dust and microfilm as time allowed, and the deeper we dug, the more jewels we uncovered — Tennessee Williams one minute, Charles Revson the next. A baby-faced Calvin Klein, waiting for his apartment to go co-op and dreaming of lots of products with his name on them (yes, that’s him on the cover) and a defiant, but admittedly lonely Duchess of Windsor.
How about Coco Chanel on why she put women in pants? Or Alfred Hitchcock on the one characteristic any self-respecting murderer must possess: charm, lest he never reel in a single victim.
Then there’s Diana Vreeland finally defining for all what, exactly, style is: “An animalistic, steely whip!” Or Tina Brown on the fear of failure.
The stuff just poured forth. And the elimination process was agony. Don’t even ask who got cut (a Nobel prize winner here, a literary legend there).
But the sheer incongruity of it all…I mean, what other newspaper in the world brings you Marie-Helene de Rothschild, Walter Cronkite and Spotlight on Socks?
The chief architect of this heady mix, John B. Fairchild, began stirring things up at the paper when he returned to New York from WWD’s Paris bureau in 1960. Dry and dull were out, lively and controversial were in.
Fairchild, now the paper’s editor at large, describes it this way: “My philosophy is simple: People are the key to everything. They’re the most interesting, not just a lot of profits and sales figures.
“We decided a long time ago we had to do something — the paper was losing money — so our main objective was to get to know Chanel, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Saint Laurent and all the others on an intimate basis and write about them and not just the cold, hard-boiled stuff.”
But socials, writers, movie stars and politicians?
“The secret of publishing is you’ve got to be true to your times,” Fairchild explains. “They’re all very much part of the scene. It’s a big world out there.”
That mix provided the seed for W magazine, whose germination process in WWD provided more than a history lesson to the intrepid staffers combing the paper’s archives over the last two months. Led by senior editor Dianne Pogoda, a woman who somehow manages to keep her wits — and wit — in the face of multiple, tyrannical deadlines, and art director Janice Carpentier, who gives exciting new life in this issue to some very frayed images, the experience served up much nostalgia and more than a few surprises. And, most importantly, we found plenty of ideas to steal.
But if this issue celebrates anything, it’s the gifted group of writers, reporters and photographers who, through the years, have brought tenacity and imagination to the pages of WWD — some found fame, some were forgotten and some are still new to the game. You’ve seen the type — in the current parlance, they’d be called content providers. That’s some content. And talk about your good providers.