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2013 September 16

All About Eva (Chen)!

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(NEW YORK) In case you missed some of our fave features in The Daily in print as you were dashing from show to show this NYFW, we're rolling out some gems in time for your post-fash week recovery (or, perhaps, while you're en route to Milan and Paris). First up, from our Media Issue: Lucky’s new editrix, Eva Chen, snagged the coldest seat in publishing this summer after a seven-year stint pushing beauty pages at Teen Vogue. She’s got Anna on speed dial and can schmooze like nobody’s business. Can this Web-savvy 33-year-old solve Condé’s biggest puzzle?

Enlighten us, Eva: Why did you really leave Teen Vogue last November?
It had nothing to do with Lucky. There wasn’t even an opportunity there at the time! It was, in part, because my husband’s a producer. He had work in L.A. and had been bicoastal. We spent time in London and China with our families, and I think every English guy wants to spend some time in L.A. Maybe it’s about driving around in the sun, in a convertible. In January I moved to Venice, which is basically paradise.

You enjoyed being an Angeleno?
Of course. Everyone wears stylish yoga clothes, drinks $12 green juice all day, and bikes around. I mean, I had a Prius!

How did you keep busy on the work front?
I was freelancing for Vogue and WSJ., and wrote a fun column for Vogue China about being a Chinese-American girl living in L.A. Then, the opportunity at Lucky came up.

How instrumental was Anna Wintour in your arrival at Lucky?
She reached out to me directly about consulting for the brand. Anna’s influence has been felt throughout Condé Nast. It’s great for Lucky to have her as a sounding board. She really understands that Lucky is a different magazine: It’s not Vogue, and it’s not supposed to be! Lucky is much more about bloggers, and about our favorite store in Wichita, Kansas. It’s a quirkier magazine, and she understands and respects that. That’s kind of how our relationship works.

Did you hop on a plane immediately after she called?
In the beginning, I was commuting between L.A. and New York, but found out quickly I couldn’t do it. I felt like a World War Z zombie. There was no amount of undereye concealer that could hide those circles!

What’s it like to work alongside her?
She’s great at helping people find and develop talent, and she’s a great leader. It’s inspiring. It’s overwhelmingly positive to work with her. 

We read that you’re the youngest Condé EIC by a decade. How does that feel?
I don’t feel like I’m the youngest editor—historically, I’m not that young. We’re a generation filled with lots of bloggers and online personalities who are their own editors on their own platforms. I’m really a digital immigrant, not a digital native.

Don’t you need digital titles on your resumé to be a digital immigrant?
You don’t have to be a digital editor to think digitally. Right now, it’s impossible not to think digitally. I think that way all the time. I’m a print editor, but when I see a great quote, I can’t wait to tweet it out.

Do you perpetually get asked when Lucky will go digital?
No one has ever asked me that, actually. My investment in photographers, stylists, and writers is testament enough to how much I believe in the print product. They’re equally important to me. 

Who’s going to read Eva Chen’s Lucky?
It’s for the girl who will get amazing $68 Levi’s jeans, but will also go to Proenza and buy a new bag. She’ll get on a wait list for a Kenzo sweatshirt—which I just did today, actually! So, the magazine is for that girl. Me. [Laughs]

What will we never see in your mag?
I don’t believe in Hot or Not lists. I don’t believe anything is really out! Also, I don’t believe in pages of merchandise scaled so small you can’t even see anything. I really wanna see all the delicious products!

Will we see more luxuriously priced items?
You’ll see it if the page merits it. I’m 100 percent behind putting beautiful things on the page, but I will never run a white T-shirt that costs $1,000.

We’ll be watching! What kind of shopper are you?
I shop a lot, but I try to shop smart. If I buy something full price, it’s something I’ve hunted down, like a lion in the Serengeti. I’m good at negotiating a sale rack. I buy lots of things at the outlets in Palm Springs.

Why does your iteration of Lucky have a contributors page?
It was a no-brainer. It’s the first time ever that Lucky has had a contributors page. I mean, Carlyne Cerf styling a story is pretty major. She’s very much right now. She invented high-low!

How did you nab Carlyne?
I assisted her nine years ago. I was working in the beauty department at Elle, and they needed an extra hand in the fashion department. The next day, I was told I was splitting my time between fashion and beauty.

What was that like?
I’ve always loved writing, but I loved getting to dabble in fashion. I learned that styling is the hardest job in the world. I have an inordinate amount of respect for people who style, but I’m definitely a words girl.

Were Carlyne and Patrick Demarchelier new to the Lucky family?  
It was Carlyne’s first time working for Lucky, and Patrick had shot for Lucky once before. For me, it’s important to work with this kind of talent.

What do your parents think of your becoming a top editrix?
Growing up, when I’d get a report card with an A– on it, they’d say, “Hmmm, OK.” Maybe it’s an Asian-American thing? But I place enormous value on my career, staying close to my family, and being grounded.

Are they proud of your new title?
My parents are very supportive; they’re very proud of me. My dad has been very supportive! Actually, I think he’s secretly the circulation department. He goes to every newsstand in New York City to ask how Lucky is doing.

Has your life changed at all?
I still ride a Citi Bike to work or take the subway, and that probably won’t change. Unless I’m wearing wildly impractical shoes and forgot to pack my Zara flats.

You’ve got a lot on your plate! How do you deal with stress?
I grew up in New York, so I’m used to ongoing stress. What I do to relax is not read fashion magazines. I read New York, or a tabloid. I watch bad-good TV, like Nashville, Scandal, or a reality show. And I shop.

That’s part of the job, right?
It is! Sometimes I think I’m the only person in New York City on the weekends—the city is empty, and I’ll walk around lower Fifth Avenue. It’s like market research. If I can’t sleep, I’m online shopping on I find it very therapeutic.

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