2010 February 15
What About Bob?
(NEW YORK) It’s difficult to remember now, but in 2002 Elle trailed Vogue by 1,394 ad pages and its publisher, Carol Smith, had a wash-and-go hairdo. Today, it’s 90 pages ahead, and Smith’s got a brand new title, a closet full of Alaïa, and a picture perfect bob, just like you know who. What a difference a megahit makes!
BY CHRISTOPHER TENNANT
Let’s start off easy. Who cuts your hair?
What’s your color called?
My color? I’m a red.
No, your hair color.
My hair color? “Almost totally natural.”
Do you work out?
Three times a week!
With a trainer?
Yep. Gyrotonics one day, superslow another, and then cardio.
What do you do for fun? Do you go away on weekends?
We have a beach house that we never get to. I work on Sundays, so it’s a weird schedule.
Jeez. Do you get time-and-a-half?
I wish! I just love being here when it’s quiet. If I’m home I have to pull open the refrigerator or open the newspaper. Saturday’s my free day. It’s tennis with my husband and then a manicure.
Anna loves tennis too! You should play a grudge match. Loser has to shave her head.
She plays too early for me. Sometimes I’ll be walking south in the morning and I’ll see her coming home from tennis. I always think, Good for her!
What else do you like to do? Opera?
Ballet. Major ballet fan. As a little girl I wanted to be a ballerina and marry an architect. Instead, I married the son of an architect and sit on the advisory board of the New York City Ballet. Close enough.
Who’s your favorite designer?
Azzedine Alaïa. When I walked into his store in Paris in December, I didn’t want to leave. Givenchy, I also love; Prada, I also love; Chanel, I can’t afford.
Well, as chief brand officer I now get to go to lots of shows. I don’t get invited to all of them, but I wish I did. I find them all inspiring.
Are you a fashion person?
I’m a branding person. I’m a magazine person who can build a brand around a magazine. For example, I don’t believe Parenting is a magazine anymore; the center of its wheel is probably its website and the magazine is a spoke. At Elle the center of our wheel is the magazine.
What are the spokes?
Elle.com, which is very strong. We just hired a new GM, in fact. And we’re big on television. Project Runway was the most serendipitous thing that ever happened to us.
And that was you!
It was me! My old boss Jack Kliger called me, I called our marketing director, and we all went, Why not? Elle was in the basement. What did we have to lose? We actually had to get on our hands and knees and beg Nina Garcia. That was hard, but we did it. And we made a whole lot of money!
Do you get recognized in the street?
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