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. Style.com 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 Style.com, 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.

The Sporting Life

November 23 2011

                                                                                                                    Joseph Altuzarra. Spring 2012     

One thing that really interests me is how effective magazine publicity can be in building brand notoriety, and I mean this in a truly positive way. Take the case of this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner, Joseph Altuzarra. Championed by Vogue editor Lauren Santo-Domingo (who we worked with on a big branding project for her full-price, couture flash sale site, Moda Operandi), Altuzarra has received serious coverage, support and love notes in the pages of the magazine.

No doubt, his forward-thinking, comfortable design sensibility is in tune with today’s busy gal. But there are also plenty of other worthy young designers (for example, the struggling ones on the FashionStake site) who are not getting the same level of free publicity, celebrity attention, income or awards.

Altuzarra walked away from the evening with $300,000 to put towards his business, as well as CFDA brand and business mentoring. So think about this when you are thinking about how you are building your career. Historically, shooting editorial was a surefire way to garner free publicity and buzz about your pictures. Today, maybe less so, as editorial jobs are not always so adventurous. But many of my agency clients are firmly committed to using strong editorial as a way of moving their photographers towards lucrative ad jobs.

Ponder that, young-uns.

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