Another One Bites the Dust: Linda Wells and Allure

November 12 2015

Back in the day, I was a charter subscriber to Condé Nast’s Allure magazine. I have always loved the magazine’s prescient and perfect blend of high/low sensibilities as envisioned by its original editor-in-chief, Linda Wells. Glamorous Michael Thompson, Tom Munro and Carter Smith photos of top models and up-to-the moment celebrities existing side-by-side with lowbrow articles on the best supermarket beauty buys and runway trends. It worked, even for someone like myself, who loves skincare but barely wears any make-up except for lipstick. 

Anyway. In keeping with keeping up, the founding editor of Allure has been pushed out along with a progression of top photo directors and editors from other titles at Condé Nast in an effort to make the company and its brand more relevant for the social, digital age. There is still opulent photography, interesting writing and an aspirational life to live within the pages of Vogue, but we have been watching the steady consolidation and diminishing of disparate pieces of the Condé Nast brand over the past year or two. is being relaunched as a new e-commerce and omnichannel shopping platform, so that the company can monetize their brands even further. Condé Nast Traveler has also been “modernized” with limited success after its long standing, highly regarded editorial and art staff was shown the door.

Back to Linda Wells, though, who is being replaced by Michele Lee of Nylon Media. Lee’s last job blurred the distinction between editorial and advertising, which, based on, is certainly the direction that Condé Nast is going in. Linda Wells is an old-school, independent editor with grace, taste, and moxy, one who possessed a good sense of what her reader wanted and who maintained editorial control over her product. There’s barely a wall or a door anymore between editorial and advertising in what is left of the traditional publishing world, and it certainly doesn't exist in the online or social media world, so I’m sure we will see the last few great editors step down in the next few years.

I hope that Ms. Wells will write a beautiful memoir about her years as a beauty queen. We will miss you, Linda.

Thinking about the magic of Albar Elbaz

November 01 2015

I can’t say why I’ve been so obsessed by the phenomenal Albar Elbaz’s departure from Lanvin.  I’m reading every article, reading his statements, reading about his staff, the workers and their demands that the majority owner of Lanvin come to Paris and answer their questions. What is so special about him, anyway?

During his tenure at Lanvin, Elbaz has been considered to be at the most haute level of the fashion world, although he does not formally do “haute couture.” While I try to stay deeply plugged into what is going in fashion, particularly as a lens to society and culture, I have always seen that his work that is far above trends. And that has seemed to me to be coming from a core place inside of him --- he’s not just another designer describing this fall season’s collection as being inspired by Swiss milkmaids in the Yucatan, or Unicorns coupled with The Matrix.

So, I want to share with you an excerpt from an interview done with Elbaz in 2014 with the Business of Fashion. They write, “His designs reflect consistency, intellectual involvement and a depth of investigation into designing clothes that puts Elbaz on the level of a master like Cristóbal Balenciaga. Well known is the story of Balenciaga's reaction to a journalist whose enquiry about his “new ideas” for the coming season elicited the cold reply, “Madam, I never have new ideas.” Diana Vreeland once told me, referring to Seventh Avenue in the 1970s, that “modern designers think they need ideas. But they are wrong. All they need is a point of view.” In many ways, Elbaz’s way of working at Lanvin reflects the stance of both Balenciaga and Vreeland. He does not think each season must be a new start, or a fresh awakening. Indeed, he resists the ebb and flow of fashion in favour of developing his own ideas, incrementally, over long periods of time.” 

I’m so interested in this quote because it reflects what the essence of the work I do with my clients. Point of view is not style; it’s elemental, wired into who you are, and expressed through peak attributes married with your skills. Elbaz could be a fashion designer, or a chef, or an architect. The magical alchemy, pleasure, and rigor of his work will be the same, no matter what. That is indeed someone, and something, above fashion. 

Tags: , , , , , , ,