fall means business
Front row at fashion week: Glenda Bailey explains Gwyneth's racy Harper's Bazaarcover & picks "must have" items for spring
NEW YORK — As editor of Harper's Bazaar for more than a decade, Glenda Bailey realizes the importance of constantly reinventing the magazine to keep up with the ever more frenzied pace of fashion. She recently unveiled a new design for the monthly, beginning with the March issue, on newstands now.
Before the DKNY show began, I caught up with her in her customary front row position to discuss the magazine's changes, spring trends and her special affection for Paris designer, Andrew Gn, who will be in Houston next month.
CultureMap: Why did you decide to make over Harper's Bazaar?
Glenda Bailey: Actually it's evolution, not a revolution. Every six months we always update the design. But the reason why it looks particularly different now is because we've actually grown one inch wider. I know I'm the only person in fashion that wants to be wider. And the paper quality has improved. So the evolution of the design feels very substantial.
"I know I'm the only person in fashion that wants to be wider."
The timeline has changed in terms of where we get our fashion information. We go online to get our news. For something to be important enough to stay in your home for a month or longer, then it really needs to be something you treasure, a collectible, something you want to keep.
We looked back on our history and were inspired by Alexey Brodovitch and that wonderful typeface that he does and it was a question of bringing that up to date.
CM: How have you changed the inside the magazine?
GB: We're trying to make it easier to navigate because I am so conscious of our readers' time. It's the most precious commodity any of us have. We are in a priviledged postion of seeing the very best in the world, regardless of the price point, and being able to present it to our readers. If I can show it in a very clean and concise way, then it's going to help her make her decisions more quickly.
CM: Are you keeping some of the popular features?
GB: Yes, "Fabulous at Every Age," "A Fashionable Life" — all of these reader favorites remain in Bazaar. But we have signposted our sections a little bit differently. The shopping section is called "The Bazaar," and if you look at it, it's more similar to online shopping. We look forward to be able to announce our e-commerce venture later in the year.
CM: How is the cover different?
GB: The subscriber cover is very daring. I like to take risks. We have Gwyneth Paltrow, which is very appropriate because she is relaunching Goop this month. It's a full-length (photo) of her, with her hair down, and you can't see her face.
Also a star of the cover is an Anthony Vaccarello dress. He's a designer that's had only two collections in Paris. He's an Italian who grew up in Belgium. He works in Paris, but he has very little publicity in the American market. Since the cover came out only days ago, I'm happy to report he has received so many offers of backing. It goes to show the power and authority of Harper's Bazaar, not with just our grand tradition but showing the stars of tomorrow.
"I think pencil skirts look right right now. And I would really invest in a pair of stilettos with a pointed toe."
CM: What about the newstand cover?
GB: We have to show what the magazine is about to readers who aren't familiar with Bazaar. It's Gwyneth looking incredibly sexy in a black all-in-one YSL pants suit. We have cover lines on the news stand because it's very important to attract new readers and to tell them what's inside the magazine. Whereas with the loyal readers they know exactly what's in Harper's Bazaar.
CM: Let me ask you a couple of trend questions. What are you excited about for spring?
GB: I love the sleeveless jacket, particularly when it's like what I'm wearing today, like a tuxedo, this is a Lanvin coatdress. I think it looks incredibly modern. I also love a peblum top. I think pencil skirts look right right now. And I would really invest in a pair of stilettos with a pointed toe.
CM: It looks like what we're seeing on the runways for fall is a tougher-edged look.
GB: We're seeing lots of military, lots of black, red and gray. We'll see a lot of document-case style bags because you want to look like you mean business. In the pre-fall collections, one look that really stood out was a three-piece pinstripe Céline trouser suit. What that's saying is it's fashion waking up to the economy and realizing that women have to compete against men in the workplace. All of a sudden it's even more important to look smart, strong, confident, because you want to look like you mean business.
"All of a sudden its even more important to look smart, strong, confident, because you want to look like you mean business."
CM: Andrew Gn is coming to Houston in March (where I will be interviewing him at the Passion For Fashion luncheon). You have been a champion of his work since early in his career.
GB: The reason I love Andrew's work is he very much has a couture sense of design. He has a love of fashion history and is able to produce something that is a distincitive signature that is right right now. He really understands his customer and her needs in terms of how she needs to dress for certain occasions in her life. And he really fulfills those needs.