NEW YORK — For the second time in a year, Mademoiselle is putting on a new face.
On Feb. 15, one year after former editor Gabe Doppelt put out her first issue, new editor Elizabeth Crow’s March Mademoiselle, with Claudia Schiffer on the cover, will hit the newsstands.
While the February issue contained Crow’s editorial direction, she considers March the first issue where the art, fashion and editorial all fit her idea of what Mademoiselle is about.
It will also be the debut of a new senior staff, including Crow, art director Cynthia Hall Searight and fashion director Tierney Gifford.
Although ad pages, according to Media Industry Newsletter, had dropped only slightly in 1993 — to about 1,275, down 1.63 percent from the year before — rumors said Conde Nast’s top brass were concerned that Doppelt’s edgy approach would turn off advertisers. Crow, who oversaw successful redesigns of YM and Parents, is said to take a more mainstream approach. Publisher Julie Lewit Nirenberg was not available for comment.
With the redesign, Crow is looking to create a young woman’s guide to everyday life. Gone will be busy and avant-garde fashion layouts, unhealthy-looking waifs and what Crow perceived to be the magazine’s cynical tone.
Cover lines on the current issue spell out Crow’s priorities: “MEN. SEX. LOVE.”
“If a reader gets just one piece of information that she uses in her everyday life from a magazine, she’s much more likely to subscribe, or buy it again. I want there to be multiple points of entry for the reader anywhere she opens the magazine,” said Crow.
To find out what her reader wants, Crow introduced 24-hour 800 phone and fax numbers in the February issue. She said she’s already received about 200 responses, including such questions as “Can you get pregnant if you don’t use a condom?”
“The poor assistant who tabulates these responses was practically in tears,” said Crow. “She wanted to call the young woman back right away and say, ‘YES!”‘
While her focus is on information and relationships, Crow said fashion and beauty will not take a back seat. “You’ll see more accessorizing and more fashion to get up and do your life in,” said Crow. But even the fashion pages will have explanatory text on them, said Crow, adding, “I believe you can tell the reader visually, but also with words, how the look came together.
“We’re doing a piece on big men’s pants in the March issue, and right there on the page it says, ‘When the pants are big, keep the top small.’ Otherwise, the reader will go out to get these great pants, then she’ll think she has to have a big top to balance it, and then she’ll get home and wonder why she looks like she gained 20 pounds.”
In beauty, Crow said there will be makeovers in every issue, and the approach there will be to present the reader with options.
Crow said she plans to inject more humor and wit into the text. She pointed to a feature in the current issue about getting men to commit, noting that she rescued it from the slush pile.
“The previous editor said, ‘Oh, this is hopeless, it makes women sound like they should be doormats. I said, for God’s sake, say this is the last-ditch, desperate, you-know-he’s-right-what-can-you-do woman’s guide to getting a man to commit. Then it became great; it was funny.”
She wants to put some of that humor into the design of the pages, as well. While she said the layout, especially in the fashion pages, is calmer and less choppy, she added that she and Searight have put in “a lot of funny stuff — blur lettering, crashing the leading, slamming color bars down on top of text.”
There will still be regular features in the form of question and answer pages. The finance, love, sex, friends, men and work pages will be at the front of the editorial well, while there will be pages on family, causes and spirituality at the back.