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27-06-2012
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Sally Singer
Sally Singer is the editor-in-chief of T Magazine and was previously Vogue's fashion news and features director.

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27-06-2012
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Sally Singer: Guru
TALKING SHOP WITH T'S NEW EDITOR-IN-CHIEF SALLY SINGER
BY KIM HASTREITER // PHOTOGRAPHED BY THE SELBY

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My longtime friend Sally Singer has always seemed to be a wonderfully odd duck in the field of fashion journalism. The super-smart editor and writer -- who began her career editing and writing about serious books for Farrar, Straus and Giroux and the London Review of Books -- was not the usual suspect for a career in fashion magazines. Yet that's where her passions have ultimately brought her. As a fashion-lover myself, who has often felt conflicted by the sometimes fickle and elite nature of the industry, I've always been impressed and amazed not only by Sally's lack of skepticism and her unwavering enthusiasm for the fashion universe, but also her belief that what one wears is not insignificant and can be a healthy means of self-expression directly connected to life in the real world. Only someone like Sally can culturally contextualize the style of the moment in a way that makes you think, "Hey, this is not silly stuff."

And she practices what she preaches, living her high-powered, working-mom life with gusto in her own eccentric off-the-grid style: Riding her bike to work everyday in her favorite YSL or Balenciaga; running to the emergency room on her way to a fashion show after one of her three cute sons gets hurt doing a skateboard stunt; ordering her weekly cruelty free organic food delivery from an upstate farm; searing duck breasts for a last-minute dinner party for 15 of her eclectic friends in her tiny kitchen in the Chelsea Hotel. It's also not surprising that she's been avidly reading PAPER for the past 23 years!

After more than a decade at American Vogue as the fashion news and features director -- where she elevated the magazine with her writing, insights and intellect, lending big-gun credibility to smaller, young, alternative-thinking talents whom she consistently supported and fought to bring into the big glossy's fold -- Sally was recently hired as the new editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. This makes so much sense to me. I can't wait to see how she'll bring her textured and quirky, democratic yet glamorous perspective (sans fear of being un-cool!) not only to their fashion but also design, food, travel and lifestyle coverage. We sat down for a great chat recently.

Kim Hastreiter: After working for years as a book editor, your first job in fashion was at British Vogue 15 years ago. Was this a tipping point for your career?

Sally Singer: My job there actually had nothing to do with fashion. I was hired to commission stories on culture, politics and society. But I also began writing style pieces for them. I'd always followed fashion, obsessively read fashion magazines, sewn my own clothes, followed all the credits and I always knew that I could cover the world of style the same way that I could follow the world of culture.

KH: After that, your fashion career escalated. You moved back to New York to be style director at Elle, then to New York magazine as fashion director and finally to Vogue, where you worked for almost 11 years.

SS: My job at these magazines was always about bridging the gap between features and fashion -- to make it clear that fashion is an expression of culture.

KH: Did you find that difficult to do? The fashion world is often a fairly narrow and not super integrated world.

SS: Fashion can be exceedingly insular and concerned with that which is visually new right now. The girl of the moment, the lip of the moment, the eyebrow of the moment, the hemline of the moment -- here today, gone tomorrow -- sometimes it seems a bit indulgent and decadent. But at the end of the day, there is a way to speak to and excite many different audiences at whatever level they happen to be in the hierarchy of aesthetic-mindedness. There's a way to make the fashion universe realize that the world itself is interesting and stimulating. And there's a way to make the big world realize the show of fashion has relevance and that the visual stimulation that emerges from it is pretty cool, too. I thought about this all the time at Vogue. I'd say to Anna [Wintour], "Well, this is one for the fashion freaks, this is the one that's going to get the industry excited, and this is one for the reader." If in a shoot we didn't have something that made the fashion world, the stylists and the designers know we were at the top of our game, then we'd lost the lay reader.

KH: Design guru Dieter Rams always said that fashion is the antithesis of design. Because fashion is by nature something that is trendy -- its followers always long for that next big thing. Good design is something that's long lasting. Why doesn't great, long-lasting design have a prominent place in fashion?

SS: I think that great design certainly has a place in fashion -- look at the Levi's 501 or the HermŤs "stud" watch. These are things that last in fashion. Whether they're part of the chatter or the song-and-dance of fashion, whether they were on the front page of fashion on any given day, might be questioned. But they certainly remain part of the fashion vocabulary. Things that are well designed can last, but fashion has to both be worn on a body and be relevant to its time moving through space. It's not like a sculpture that sits over there, and you can look at the lines and say that was really, really well designed. Fashion is about aesthetics and the zeitgeist.

KH: It's fierce, then it's tired.

SS: Or it's brilliant, but not cool at that moment. And the cool factor around things probably has to do with the zeitgeist. The chic-est, most beautifully crafted cocktail dress -- perhaps a [Geoffrey] Beene from the moment that Alber [Elbaz] was designing with him -- might be the best dress you ever owned, yet there could be years when that would just not be the thing you picked to wear to a party.

KH: Because it's tired? Why?

SS: It's not tired. But for a while, it's just not part of the conversation of how you want to look, because of the music you're listening to, the book you're reading or the food you want to eat. You don't wear clothes in isolation. It might be the greatest thing ever, but it doesn't mean that every season, at every moment, you can work that look.

KH: Why can't you just be who you are? Is a bling-y person going to look wrong just because Jil Sander is the trend? What if the next big thing was suddenly a hard-edged geometric Mugler style? I just couldn't imagine a casual, soft-looking person like you starting to wear architectural big shoulders, because that's not who you are. So why should we?

SS: No one says we should. People who are interested in style -- designers, stylists or the girl or boy on the street -- get an idea and fixate on it, and for their whole lives, that's their ideal. For someone from my generation* -- West Coast, basically raised in the '70s -- my style ideal is probably a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt. Being very "done" or wearing a lot of makeup is very chic for others, but it will never be me. Yet every season, there's a way to connect your personal aesthetic with something new. You intuitively think, "I want something new that updates who I am, but at the end of the day I'm still myself."
When people ask me what they should wear for evening, I say, "If you're most comfortable in your pajamas, then wear pajamas. Do not put on a ball gown, 'cause you're not going to look good in it." If your favorite thing is to wear party dresses because as a child every day you wanted to wear your fairy princess dress, then always wear fairy princess dresses. The smart person every season twists it just a little to register that they're part of the conversation. It's fun to update what is in your closet. That's why people who only wear pale blue button-front shirts, which I happen to love, buy new ones. They serially buy these things.

KH: Why would you buy a new one if you have ten in your closet?

SS: People think that if they buy classics -- a trench coat, or a V-neck sweater or a great pair of flat boots -- they're safe because they've invested in things that are gonna last 20 years. But within six months, it's the wrong V-neck or the wrong flat boot, because suddenly the line is wrong. Fashion people are stimulated by proportion shifting -- getting taller, getting thinner. Hemlines go up, hemlines go down. Shoes get wacky, shoes get clunky, shoes get skinny. The fastest things to date are those classics, cause it's just proportions laid bare. There's nothing else going on. If you had invested in a feathered chubby or an incredible crinoline, it's never going to go out of style. I think the most eccentric things are the things that last the longest.

KH: Fashion is also influenced by the sociopolitical -- things get humble, things get flashy. This is a good moment for someone like me right now, because being indie, grassroots and authentic is "on trend." A few years ago, when the trends were more decadent -- pouring magnums of champagne on the floor for fun, driving Hummers or covering yourself in logos* -- I didn't do well.

SS: It's all about the shapes the world takes.

KH: Will your new job as editor-in-chief of T be less about fashion with a capital F -- the hemline, eyebrow or lip of the moment -- and more about lifestyle, design, food, pop culture and travel?

SS: A lot of direction and change happens from fashion because every three months, four times a year, whether one likes it or not, there's a whole lot of new design that just goes out there. It might be repetitive, you might've seen it before, but I think fashion runs throughout everything. I don't think fashion exists in isolation. The bigger lifestyle shifts that everyone is adjusting to lately -- the needs to bicycle more, to consider locally grown food, to think about how we live with technology, which is a huge question -- are informing everything. Fashion is just what you put on to go out into the street to deal with all the other stuff. So everything has to be part of it.

KH: Do you see the New York Times as less elite than Vogue?

SS: I don't, because I don't think Vogue is elite. Vogue speaks to too many people on too many different levels. It has a very specific emotional connection to women whose mothers may have read it, whose grandmothers may have read it. The Times has a very similar emotional connection to its readers, who read it to find out what's going on in the world and to come across as more literate, informed global citizens. T has to speak to that as well. So often people think that to be in the serious, journalistic world, that fashion and lifestyle are sort of indulgences that exist as a guilty pleasure. That's just utter nonsense to me. Everyone gets dressed every day and wants to look better. It's a common denominator. So the question is, what are you going to put on and what is it going to say about you in the world?

KH: And what are you going to cook for breakfast?

SS: Yeah, and what are you going to buy at the grocery store or feed to your kids? Or how are you going to power your car?These are lifestyle choices that matter. They may not matter as much as other decisions you make, but these decisions are emotional and relevant. And they are, in aggregate, political.

KH: Many fashion players are not as political as you are. You've always voiced concern in this industry about ethics and human rights, supported underdogs and tried to help many of them. You've been one of those unique people in the fashion world who hasn't been afraid to think and act inclusively as opposed to exclusively.

SS: I just support the people who I think have talent and have courage in their convictions, regardless of the trends. Unlike a lot of people in the fashion world, I'm not afraid of being un-cool or of making images that aren't cool.

KH: I think it's a wonderful time for someone like you to be at the helm of a magazine to reshape it. What is Sally Singer's T magazine going to look like?

SS: I hope that there will be actual stories to read in it, because the Times is first and foremost a paper of great reporting. And it has to be relevant and honest and interesting. There also have to be real narratives and a sense of continuity between the world of the paper and the world in which the T images exist.
To me, the most exquisite fashion credit I can remember in my lifetime was the day of [President Obama's] inauguration, when Michelle walked the parade route in that greenish-yellow Isabel Toledo dress. Because this was a real moment in which fashion, and quite directional fashion, played a role. When I think about the project of T and the Times, I think about that. I think about fashion outside of the studio and fashion that lives on the street. It doesn't mean you're going to repeat that moment, but I do think there's a way in which you can make lifestyle choices seem pertinent to the way we experience the world, and you can draw those connections in a magazine.
You have to have many points of entry for readers on any page. From the person you shot, to the place you shot it in, to the context of the stuff, to what the stuff is, whether you have a political narrative, a celebrity narrative, a location narrative. Most people who read the Times are lucky enough to have some control over the choices in their lives. Those choices are emotional and about what moves you. If all goes well, the magazine I edit will feel emotional. It should feel like a friend or an enemy or an aggravating presence or the most wonderful thing you've ever had. Magazines, when they work, are emotional vehicles. They drive you to places you just didn't know you were going to go on the day you picked them up. And if they don't, they're not working at all.
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28-06-2012
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An Intellectual Fashion | Sally Singer

In his column, Donatien Grau speaks to prominent thinkers and creatives about fashion and its connections to contemporary creativity.

Quote:
Sally Singer is the editor of T Magazine, The New York Times Style Magazine. Before being appointed in 2010, she had served for ten years at American Vogue, where she held the position of fashion news editor and features director. Interestingly enough, before turning to fashion, she pursued graduate studies in American History at Yale University, and then was hired as an editor for the London Review of Books. All the way to VogueÖ

How would you connect fashion to elegance?
I think of elegance as a way of being at ease with the world and of putting others at ease with the world through oneís ability to link oneís aesthetics in some way, not necessarily in an harmonious way, but in an interesting way, to the preoccupations and expectations of others and in some way behave in the world with a sense of grace. That is what I think elegance is. I donít think it has a look to it, I think it has an emotional feel to it. Fashion can help you get there, if one uses oneís wardrobe as a way of exploring the world with grace and with the kind of beauty that is not at all prescribed, that is somehow intuitive and natural.

What is the role of history and art history in your conception of fashion?

Iím slightly burdened because, as I was a history student, I used to see history developments in everything. But I donít think that fashion as itís played over the runways should be labored with historical references. When you can see the reference in clothes, the clothes donít work. You should sense the reference, but fashion is always about here and now, and whatís next. It just has to be. We have what was, and itís good!

Would you describe fashion as a language and a discourse, as Barthes did it?
One could do a semiotic read of fashion, but that seems a bit retro. I think weíve moved beyond signs and symbols. I think of fashion as a performative popular stream in the culture: every needs to get dressed in the morning, and everybody wants to be something because of that effort. Itís an inevitable and inescapable text in our lives, whether we see it as fashion, or downgraded to clothing, or upgraded to personal style.

The word "intellectual" was coined in a time of great political distress. Does fashion have a political role? And in which way?

Fashion defines for generations a look with which people can pick out their allies and can pick out their foes. So I think itís very good at being a visual manifestation of where you stand. Weíve seen that even recently, in places like Tahrir Square in Cairo. It has a way of mobilising and informing the crowd. And thatís political.

How would you relate the concept of "fashion" to the one of "style"?

The usual way to do that is to say that fashion is about the trends, and the clothes, and the here and now, whatís in, whatís out, whereas style is a longer and more personal narrative. I guess thatís true. Thereís a fashion industry, and thereís a style industry. But the fashion industry has a much more definitive influence.

What does fashion have to do with intellectuality ?

Absolutely nothing. And it shouldnít be burdened by that weight. It can't hold up to it. It just canít. Iím tempted to go back to Roald Dahl and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory: thereís a line in the Tim Burton version - candy donít have to serve a purpose, thatís why itís candy. Fashion needs to have the ability to be that weighless to therefore retain its magical power and, in a sense, its importance.

At Vogue, and now at T Magazine, it has always been very important for you to include fashion in a broader conception of culture. In which way is fashion part of culture ?
I believe fashion, when it serves you well, allows you to get up in the morning, get out and not think about what youíre up to. Itís most wonderful when it frees your mind from thinking about other things. So clothes that work the best allow you to be the self that you want to be in the world. Maybe itís a taller self, maybe itís a thinner self, maybe itís a more powerful self, maybe itís a more interesting selfÖ You become yourself in the world and, by doing that, you donít have to think about yourself all day. Youíre not wondering if your bum looks big in the trousers, or if your shirt fits the room, or youíre wearing the right tieÖYou actually know that youíre comfortable inhabiting the look youíve created for yourself, whatever that look is. And then you can think about the world. In the act of being some egotistical self, you actually get rid of the ego at a certain point of the day. And thatís, to me, the most important part of it.

Some people say that fashionís ever changing moves make it the sign of decadent times. How do you feel towards that statement ?

First, letís not forget that everybody needs to get dressed in the morning Ė you do have to put something on the top, something on the bottom, and probably a shoe, depending on where you live. So thatís about utility, and doesnít have anything to do with decadence. All the sort of permutations of what clothes are, well, sure, some of them are decadent, and that lifestyle choices can be seen as decadent. But whoís to say ? Oneís decadent times are anotherís playful and responsible times. In everything involving lifestyle, itís about personal responsibility. Itís for individuals to participate in and thereby shape the fashion industry they want to represent their times. If people buy indiscriminately and whimsically and have closets full of unworn garments, then youíre going to have a fashion industry thatís going to be out of control. Itís for us as a society to shape the system we want: I feel that way towards the political system, I feel that way towards the corporate system. We have the system we deserve. Lifestyle doesnít have to be perceived as decadent. It can be very much about responsibility, forward-thinking, and civic-mindedness.
AnOther Magazine

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28-08-2012
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Quote:
Sally Singer Out at T

Sally Singer is out as editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Singer joined the Times back in July 2010 after a long run at Vogue as fashion news and features director. At the time, she succeeded Stefano Tonchi who left T to become editor in chief of W. A spokeswoman confirmed to WWD that Singer is leaving at the end of the week.

"I'm sorry to announce that Sally Singer will be leaving T magazine and The Times at the end of this month," said executive editor Jill Abramson, in a note to the staff. "Sally's contributions are clear to anyone who's read the magazine during her tenure. Gorgeous visuals, interesting stories and enterprising features — both in print and online — have been hallmarks of her stewardship. We wish her every success." No successor has been named.
source: wwd

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28-08-2012
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Well this is... Well I don't know what this is. Why would she be leaving so abruptly?

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Ms. Abramson said in her statement that The Times was looking to replace Ms. Singer immediately.
ny times

Did she leave Vogue on good terms? I don't know the story behind that

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While it’s not clear whether Singer (a former Vogue editor) was ousted or left on her own, there were some hints that Abramson was not happy with the ad page situation at T. In May WWD noted that in 2012, the newspaper glossy lost ad pages in all except two of the first seven issues. This story came shortly after one in February of this year in which WWD reported that Abramson had supposedly “[given] Singer a dressing down late last year after hearing complaints from the ad sales staff. They were having a tough time selling her magazine.”
fashionista.com

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31-08-2012
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Hmmm I think if she was ousted they would have a replacement for her lined up already. So we just need to wait and see.

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02-09-2012
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^^^
I wonder where she'll land next.

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04-09-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gleam View Post
I wonder where she'll land next.
I started a thread for the discussion of her leaving T here: http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f63...or-187465.html

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from vogue nippon's site
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