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22-07-2006
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The most powerful fashion editors - Forbes Article
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Most Powerful Fashion Editors
Kiri Blakeley, 06.29.06, 12:30 AM ET


It may be full of beautiful people and beautiful clothing, but the fashion business isn't necessarily pretty.

Drama and defeat, rivalries petty and profound, the glamorous and the grotesque--all combine to make fashion one of the toughest industries around. But as in every field, power is everything--in this case, the power to shift popular tastes, create design celebrities and sell billions of dollars worth of clothing, accessories and makeup.

Creative talents like Marc Jacobs, Donatella Versace, Zac Posen and Oscar de la Renta may rule the runways. But whether or not designers become stars, with billions of dollars worth of business--and influence on billions more in rip-off designs that appear in malls throughout the world--depends on a select few people. Namely, fashion editors.

Is it any wonder they are so feared, so respected, and in some cases, so despised?

In the new film The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep plays assistant-torturing fashion editrix Miranda Priestly. That's "the devil" wears Prada. Not "the worst boss," or even "the-pain-in-the-rear editor," but the out-and-out ruler of fire-filled hell.

The movie is based on the book by Lauren Weisberger, who did a stint as assistant to Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and the single most powerful fashion editor in the world. Publisher Random House doesn't mention Vogue or Wintour in the press release or author Q&A on its website. The stars of the film have been careful not to draw parallels in interviews. Weisberger herself has said the character is drawn from the work experiences of several friends and acquaintances. But, a 20th Century Fox spokeswoman says that the book is based on Weisberger's experience with Wintour.

No matter. Even Wintour knows who the movie is about. She attended a screening of the movie, which preceded a benefit for breast cancer research. A spokesperson at Vogue says Wintour found the film "very entertaining."

Volumes have been written on Wintour's legendary iciness: reportedly, no one in her offices is permitted to look at or speak to her unless she initiates contact. And pity the newbie who doesn't let Wintour ride the elevator alone. In Toby Young's memoir of working at Conde Nast, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, he describes a scene in which Wintour fell flat on her face in a hallway, and a young intern stepped over her prostrate body rather than express concern and risk getting fired.

" Vogue and Wintour are so dominant in the fashion world," says Conor Kennedy, creative director of Elite Model Management, which sends 25 models a year to the Vogue offices to be personally vetted by Wintour. "In America, she's really the only larger-than-life editor."

If Wintour likes a model, she becomes a star. If she doesn't, well, back to Kansas. The same can be said of designers.

While Wintour may be the only editor to inspire a Meryl Streep performance, she's not the only one who is incredibly influential. The late Diana Vreeland, who helmed both American Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, may be the most legendary fashion editor ever (even Wintour doesn't come close), but there's no shortage of power in Prada heels today.

To assemble our list of some of the most powerful fashion editors in the country, Forbes spoke to numerous sources within the modeling and fashion world--not surprisingly, the same names popped up again and again.

They were usually the top editors at the fashion magazines with the largest circulations, with Vogue and Harper's Bazaar leading the way. Glenda Bailey of Harper's is generally considered the good witch to Wintour's bad. And serious gatekeepers can often be found a few notches down the masthead, such as Grace Coddington, creative director of Vogue, on whom Wintour relies heavily, and groundbreaking Fashion Director Alexandra White, who has made W a must-read for fashion world, despite its small circulation numbers and scarcity outside of New York and Los Angeles magazine stands.

In compiling the list, which is not ranked, we looked at circulation numbers, but also considered how influential a magazine is, regardless of how many people buy it. As in the case of W, readers may simply be exactly the right people. We looked for editors who not only have influence in the fashion world, but have changed the way their magazines--or, in the case of Amy Astley-run Teen Vogue, entire market segments--are perceived. Taking a book in a successful new direction is obviously a plus, as is doubling circulation. To keep the list manageable, we restricted it to female editors (sorry, Gilles Bensimon of Elle) of American magazines (pardonnez-nous, Marie-Amelie Sauve of French Vogue).

It's no coincidence, by the way, that many on our list worked for Wintour at some point. Sounds less like the devil and more like a queenmaker.
forbes.com


Last edited by Avant Garde; 22-07-2006 at 02:21 PM.
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22-07-2006
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Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

It's bizarre how even less-fashion concious individuals may be learning of Wintour, due to The Devil Wears Prada... her name is really out there now, I'd say.

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22-07-2006
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Quote:

Kate Betts
Editor at Large, Time
Circulation: 4 million
Editor, Time Style & Design
Betts went from being a Wintour protégé at Vogue to becoming, at 35, the youngest editor to head up a fashion book. But her reign at Harper's Bazaar, coming on the heels of the death of adored editor Liz Tilberis, was less than successful: She got rid of the logo, newsstand sales slumped, and she was fired. Betts rebounded, moving to Time in 2003, and now oversees its Style & Design magazine, published four times a year in the U.S. She appears as a style guru on shows like Today and Good Morning America. While some in the industry say her power has slipped since leaving Bazaar, she is still considered one of the best writers in the business. "She's a star," says Lara Shriftman, a fashion and luxury brand publicist who has worked with Betts. Betts is seen as one of the first to really fuse Hollywood and high fashion--consider the Bazaar shoot where supermodels posed at the Playboy mansion with Hugh Hefner and various playmates.



Anna Wintour
Editor-in-Chief, Vogue
Circulation: 1.3 million
People who have worked with Wintour, who also oversees the content of Men's Vogue, Teen Vogue and Vogue Living, describe her as singularly "driven," "ambitious" and "focused." Up at 5:30 to play tennis, she has her famous brown bob professionally coiffed and her pale skin professionally made up before being chauffeured to the Vogue offices. Working by 9 a.m., the editor leaves by 5:30, but is usually called upon to attend a round of fashion shows (which don't start until she arrives) or cultural events, where she likes to stay only ten minutes so she can be in bed by 10.



Grace Coddington
Creative Director, Vogue
Circulation: 1.3 million
Born on the Welsh island of Anglesey, Coddington became a modeling sensation before joining British Vogue in 1968 as a junior fashion editor. There, she coordinated photo shoots with some of the most legendary photographers: Cecil Beaton, Sara Moon, Helmut Hewton and Guy Bourdin. She also fortuitously worked with Anna Wintour, who in 1995 hired her away from Calvin Klein (where she was design director) to American Vogue in 1995. Coddington plays a major role in deciding what models and designers end up on the pages of Vogue, though Wintour has ultimate veto power. Seminal coffee table book, Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue, was published in 2002.



Linda Wells
Editor in Chief, Allure
Circulation: 1.07 million
Wells started at Vogue, moved to the New York Times, and eventually became food and beauty editor for the New York Times Magazine. She's generally considered the first to have written as much about what was happening behind the runway as on it. In 1991, she was recruited by Conde Nast to head up Allure. More a beauty book than a fashion mag, Allure is nonetheless on fashion insiders' lips as a trendsetter for modern makeup. "If Vogue was a beauty magazine, it would be Allure," Shriftman says. She's respected for her savvy hires, most notably Paul Cavaco, former fashion director of Vogue and founder of fashion PR powerhouse Keeble, Cavaco & Duka. He is now creative director of Allure and considered one of the most influential stylists in the business.



Amy Astley
Editor in Chief, Teen Vogue
Circulation: 900,000
Most powerful person in the teen world. Teen Vogue has reinvigorated a genre, teen fashion, that had been flailing. Magazines like Seventeen have become less about fashion than dating and celebrities, and Elle Girl folded its print edition. After Kate Betts left Vogue to go to Bazaar, Astley took her place as Wintour's darling and eventually was installed as head of Wintour's new project, Teen Vogue, which launched in February 2003. The magazine gets kudos from the fashion world for being more Park Avenue than Girl Next Door, and Astley gets credit for the 100% circulation increase.



Glenda Bailey
Editor-in-Chief, Harper's Bazaar
Circulation: 722,359
Bailey became top editor of Bazaar in May 2001, fresh off her highly successful reign at Marie Claire. She had a lot to prove, taking over from beloved editor Liz Tilberis, who died of cancer in 1999. (Kate Betts had a short tenure in between.) But since Bailey began, there has been a 30% increase in newsstand sales. She created the two-cover concept for Bazaar: one on front, another on back. While she doesn't have quite Wintour's cachet, her Harper's Bazaar is more approachable and more accessible than its rival--as Bailey is said to be.



Brana Wolf
Editor at Large, Harper's Bazaar
Circulation: 722,359
While Wolf, who has been with Bazaar for ten years, reports to Bailey, she is considered one of the most important people in fashion, overseeing the shoots of Harper's Bazaar and contributing to the more cutting-edge content of Italian Vogue. She is also chief fashion consultant to Versace, styling its ad campaigns and fashion shows. "She decides what is modern," Kennedy says.



Alexandra White
Fashion Director, W
Circulation: 469,958
W doesn't have the circulation of Vogue or Bazaar, but it is considered the most cutting-edge American fashion magazine. "They push the envelope far more than any other American magazine," Kennedy says. White, who had stints at both British and Italian Vogue, oversees all fashion shoots, and W tends to hire whatever great photographers aren't under contract to Vogue, such as Bruce Weber and Mario Sorrenti. Under her, photographer Steven Klein has done some of his most talked-about work: His spread with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, just as Pitt divorced Jennifer Aniston, posing as a fertile 1960s husband and wife, caused Aniston to gripe that Pitt lacked a "sensitivity chip." W was the first magazine to put Kate Moss on its cover after her drug scandal. White's shoots can often be found on the drawing boards in designer showrooms--as inspirational material.
forbes.com


Last edited by Avant Garde; 22-07-2006 at 02:28 PM.
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22-07-2006
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where's melanie ward?...
and why only females???......

and what about LUCKY magazine???..
that magazine has changed the ENTIRE industry for EVERYONE in it!!!
at least in america...
...


not that i don't agree---but seems like kate betts is a bit of a stretch......

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Last edited by softgrey; 22-07-2006 at 03:15 PM.
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22-07-2006
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Avant Garde thanks for this article!!!

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22-07-2006
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I am very interested in this book Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue,does anyone have it?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey
where's melanie ward?...
and why only females???......

and what about LUCKY magazine???..
that magazine has changed the ENTIRE industry for EVERYONE in it!!!
at least in america...
...


not that i don't agree---but seems like kate betts is a bit of a stretch......
Do you think you could please tell me more about lucky? It sounds very interesting

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22-07-2006
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I believe LUCKY is still in its infancy compared to Vogue, Bazaar, Allure and Teen Vogue is part of Vogue for the more younger set so it doesn't constitute a junior nor a newbie in Conde Nast. With that said, I believe the focus for Forbes credit to Conde Nast's behemoth in publication is due to the magazine listed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by softgrey
where's melanie ward?...
and why only females???......

and what about LUCKY magazine???..
that magazine has changed the ENTIRE industry for EVERYONE in it!!!
at least in america...
...


not that i don't agree---but seems like kate betts is a bit of a stretch......

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Last edited by smartarse; 22-07-2006 at 07:56 PM.
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Avant Garde, done your homework. Excellent karma!


*note: LUCKY magazine is geared to consumer in the low end of retail. More consumer friendly in that respect. Another way of looking at it, it's a form of directory in the fashion sense?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by smartarse
Avant Garde, done your homework. Excellent karma!


*note: LUCKY magazine is geared to consumer in the low end of retail. More consumer friendly in that respect. Another way of looking at it, it's a form of directory in the fashion sense?
Thank you very much

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