Condé Nast, the company behind Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, became one of the most successful magazine publishers by charming readers and advertisers alike with a formula built on old-world glamour and all-American pizazz. But now, even after having taken measures to cut spending and make itself more digitally savvy, the company is expected to adopt a more radical strategy to ensure that it does not fade away. Robert A. Sauerberg Jr., the chief executive of Condé Nast, plans to address senior staff members on Aug. 8. The meeting will come in the wake of an extended visit from Boston Consulting Group, which recently concluded a months long examination.
It does not promise to be a cheerful gathering. According to more than a dozen current and former Condé Nast executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal matters, the measures instituted at the company over the last decade — closing Details and the print versions of Self and Teen Vogue; laying off some 80 employees last year; combining the photo and research departments of different magazines — have not been enough to stem the bleeding.
She’s been making ahead-of-the-curve music and mind-bending videos for 20 years—and that’s no fluke. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah goes behind the curtain with the ultraprivate creative genius.
This article appears in the June 2017 issue of ELLE, on newsstands now.
At the photo shoot, the accoutrements of being her precede her. A tray of acrylic nails and an almost-empty bottle of professional-grade nail polish remover are carried by Bernadette Thompson, the Takashi Murakami of manicurists. A tall, strong-looking man walks around distractedly, wheeling a Louis Vuitton duffel bag that is smaller than his forearm; from time to time, he spins it in a wide circle out of boredom. Jewels—gold chokers, hoop earrings, and rings in a velvet-lined box—are attended to by a thin young man wearing a black Balenciaga fitted cap and high-top Nikes. There’s a bottle of jewelry cleaner harnessed to his chest and a chain of styling clips attached to his hoodie strings; he looks listless, like he has given his body over to the task. On the table, someone has set down two Kangol hats, one tan, one black: fuzzy, wearable homages to the golden era of hip-hop. They sit there like low-key crowns.
She’s a billionaire business mogul. He’s the most electric rapper in the game. How did they come together? How do they make it work? And can they survive the Kardashian Curse? Mark Anthony Green sits down with the world’s most powerhouse power couple.
“I don’t just do clothes, I write a story and then come the clothes,” Simon Porte Jacquemus explained to i-D back in 2014. It’s a design process that has propelled this self-taught Provençal-born talent from staging guerrilla presentations to winning the Special Jury LVMH Prize and becoming one of Paris’s hottest (and most successful) talents, with 230 stockists worldwide and over 40 employees. While each seasonal chapter focusses on different characters, the story can always be read as a love letter to France. Now that he has launched Jacquemus menswear for spring/summer 19, the offshoot will have its own narrative but will always be France, je t’aime. “They aren’t together, the man and woman,” Jacquemus explained as the sun set on his debut show. “He is much younger and more naive but in a good way; it’s about colorful, simple, and easy clothes.”
After a throwaway Instagram “I will do men’s” declaration and tongue-in-cheek #newjob teasing caused a social stir, he confirmed that he would be launching menswear when he took his bow at the end of his Le Souk fall/winter 18 women’s show wearing a sweatshirt that read “L’Homme Jacquemus.” “I fell in love and it pushed me to speak about men and realize my first menswear collection — it was very spontaneous,” Jacquemus explained. He wanted his debut menswear collection to celebrate Marseille. “I grew up here, where you don’t call them guy or boy but gadjo,” read the designer-penned show notes. “I grew up here, barefoot, bare chest, strong perfume. I grew up here, in the Mediterranean. My Mediterranean.”
As the collection was inspired by the sun, sea, and sexiness of his hometown, Jacquemus immersed us in the sun, sea, and sexiness of his hometown. Instead of joining the Paris men’s show schedule, he chose Calanque de Sormiou to debut his menswear. While the show was watched by family, friends, and locals alike, for many of us it was our first time in Marseille. “I’m happy to bring so many people here. The idea was not to just show a collection, it was to provide a real vacation moment.” The FROW consisted of a few towels on the sand and everyone else found a space on the rocks or in the sea to watch. It was magical. Not only did this #outofoffice opportunity provide the perfect punctuation to a long season of shows, it enabled us to experience the France that Jacquemus knows. We could see the world through his eyes. “I’ve always dreamed about doing a show in the South of France but never thought it would be possible to show here because it’s a national park,” he explained. “I had to fight but they understood that it wasn’t just a location for me, I care about this place. I live 45 minutes away and started coming here as a teenager with friends so to do an event here is unbelievable.”
“The collection, Le Gadjo, explores all the cliche boys of Marseille,” Jacquemus said. “I was obsessed by the different guys in Marseille — from the soccer player to the clubbers — and how they’re unknowingly fashionable with their blue tracksuits, blue hats, blue wallets, and gold chains. Everything is very precise.” Jacquemus and his design studio worked closely with The Woolmark Company in creating this debut menswear collection with 27 pieces in 100% merino wool, which covered every summer staple, from T-shirts to sweaters, jackets to shorts. Now, you might not think of wool as a holiday friendly fabric, but Jacquemus has demonstrated throughout this three season long collaboration that he can make it as light and as sexy as possible.
The Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has spoken over the years about her struggles to learn to love her hair and skin color. She was taunted as a young girl for her “night-shaded skin,” she has said. She once felt “unbeautiful.”Finally, Ms. Nyong’o said she realized that beauty was not a thing that she could acquire or change. “It was something that I just had to be,” she said at a Black Women in Hollywood luncheon in 2014.
But now, at 34, Ms. Nyong’o has yet again found herself defending that beauty.On the cover of its November issue, the magazine Grazia UK featured an altered image of Ms. Nyong’o. Gone is her mass of curly black hair, held in a thick ponytail at the back of her neck in the original photograph.
On Instagram, in a post that was widely viewed and shared, Ms. Nyong’o rejected the magazine’s use of the image.
As I have made clear so often in the past with every fiber of my being, I embrace my natural heritage and despite having grown up thinking light skin and straight, silky hair were the standards of beauty, I now know that my dark skin and kinky, coily hair are beautiful too.
Being featured on the cover of a magazine fulfills me as it is an opportunity to show other dark, kinky-haired people, and particularly our children, that they are beautiful just the way they are.
I am disappointed that @graziauk invited me to be on their cover and then edited out and smoothed my hair to fit their notion of what beautiful hair looks like. Had I been consulted, I would have explained that I cannot support or condone the omission of what is my native heritage with the intention that they appreciate that there is still a very long way to go to combat the unconscious prejudice against black women’s complexion, hair style and texture.
Ms. Nyong’o affixed the hashtag #dtmh, the acronym for the song “Don’t Touch My Hair,” by Solange Knowles. The London Evening Standard magazine apologized to Ms. Knowles last month for removing a significant portion of her hair from an image that appeared on the cover of its October edition.
In September, the hip-hop artist Nicki Minaj called out magazines for altering her hair while not doing the same to women of other races. “For years, fashion mags would change my hair for their covers but allow women of a diff race to wear the exact style on the cover,” she said on Twitter.
On Friday, Grazia magazine issued a statement apologizing to Ms. Nyong’o but deflecting blame for the image alteration.
Miguel’s a big Pussy Riot fan, and he wants you to be as well. The R&B crooner took to Twitter last week to do a little pro bono PR for the Russian protest group, praising their 2016 anti-Trump anthem, “Make America Great Again.” Miguel’s cover is a little more soulful, by his own admission. “Shitty emo cover of ‘make america great again’ by @pussyrrriot,” the artist tweeted. “You gotta hear the actual song, it’s legit a jam, feel good even!” Two members of the collective, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were famously jailed in 2012 for a protest staged inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They were freed almost two years later, and the group has since recorded a number of protest songs aimed at oppressive figures like Donald Trump.
“Make America Great Again” was one of three tracks the group released in October of last year, all aimed at conservative politics around the world. The first — titled “Straight Outta Vagina” — was a brazen celebration of women’s sexuality and power. The second, “Organs,” was released the following day. The Russian-language song dealt with corruption and the oppression of female sexuality in Russia. We’re glad Miguel’s listening.