Conde Nast

This September's Vogue Italia cover  © VOGUE

Quite what the collective noun for models might be is debatable (a symmetry? A perfection?). But we should find one, because model gangs are owning the September issues. Read more

For all scholars of the Conde Nast kingdom and its inner workings: Anna Wintour has made another move in her new role as Artistic Director of Conde Nast. Last night Milan Fashion Week opening with what will indubitably be the party of the week: a shindig, hosted at La Scala by Conde Nast (the American version) to celebrate the donation of five scholarships to five Italian students in fashion, art, film and journalism. The great and the good were all there, and tenor Vittorio Grigolo sang. When I asked various CN execs about it, most of them said, “It was Anna’s thing” – though CEO Charles Townsend was also key. Either way it suggests a certain kind of strategic thinking that isn’t necessarily just about altruism or opera. Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

And you thought it was all about self-promotion, or changing the (highly male) image of silicon valley, or positioning herself as the anti-Sheryl “I will never talk about anything as frivolous as clothes” Sandberg. Pshah. That super-controversial Marissa Mayer profile in the very enormous September issue of Vogue, which has ignited all sorts of hoo-ha on the internet, was actually about long-term Yahoo content creation, in an I’ll-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine kind of way. Who’s the canny chief executive now, naysayers?

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The burning questions of: 1) whether Anna Wintour’s new big job at Conde Nast will mean she steps down her maybe-possibly-political ambitions and involvement; and 2) to whom she will lend her formidable bundling skills to now President Obama is in his second term have both been resoundingly put to rest – by Ms Wintour herself. Finally! we can sleep at night.

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Actually, that’s not true: Anna Wintour, aka editor of US Vogue, is, in fact, being promoted to “artistic director” of Condé Nast . It’s not Oz, and it’s not ambassador to the UK, but it’s definitely a step up.

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Leaving aside the weirdness of that title, which makes it sound like she is running a ballet company (and exists because CN already has an “editorial director” – Tom Wallace – though that role has become more operational than content-focused, apparently; fun for Mr W), this means, along with her current job at Vogue, she will essentially weigh in on the creative side of the stable of magazines, as well as their personnel.

Here’s how CN explained it in the announcement: “The establishment of an artistic director is a reflection of our commitment to preserve and champion all that exists ‘Only at Condé Nast’. In today’s business environment, it is critical to promote and foster our established creative authority. This is the ideal time to leverage Anna’s extraordinary vision and leadership to amplify and elevate the profile of Condé Nast US both domestically and abroad. Anna is an icon in the worlds of fashion, business and the arts, she has the foresight and wisdom to influence the major trends of our society and is respected globally as an accomplished businesswoman.”

However, in a New York Times report on Ms Wintour’s promotion, what interested me most was her statement that the job “isn’t about a machine or an iPhone or an iPad. It’s about people.” This is telling. After all, for the last few years Ms Wintour has been most famous, intra-fashion world, not for her reportedly chilly personality or even her anti-animal-rights-activists body guards that like to push everyone out of the way when she exits a fashion show, but for the games of chess she plays with brands and designers. She has probably done as much, if not more, to shape the fashion world as to shape her magazine, and as much as any of the big groups. We hear she is a wiz of a wiz, if ever a wiz there was. Because because because because, because of the wonderful things she does. Read more

After last week’s announcement that Conde Nast International had made a significant investment (for them) in Farfetch.com comes news that Advance Publications, ie the parent company of Conde Nast, just led the latest $20 million fundraising round for Renttherunway.com, the web site that allows consumers to rent a catwalk look for an event. The first move got a lot of play, and this one has been slightly quieter (another investor, Highland Capital, issued the release), but put them together and you get what looks like an interesting picture developing, no?
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What’s been happening over the last two weeks? What’s the news we can use? Here are my top three recent titbits — the ones that at first glance don’t seem so important, but on second look have outsize implications, from NY Fashion Week’s first casuality to Prada’s new super-expensive perfume, and the rise of the magazine brand as star.
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You know that three’s-a-trend rule? Well, note FOUR recent events in four different countries, beginning with the Van Cleef and Arpels announcement of “L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels,” and the Instituto Marangoni and Ermenegildo Zegna announcement of the renewal of their Masters in Menswear. School, school everywhere! Read more

I’ve been perusing a new magazine named “Astonish” that claims to be “the answer to an industry starved for smart, unique and visually-stimulating Fashion & Art content.” I have to say, I wasn’t actually that astonished by the photographs, nor did the contents, leave my mouth agape. But the business strategy is intriguing.

See, “While other publications work with the same pool of talent year after year,

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