I get the sense Joanna Coles is one of those people whose unbridled enthusiasm for everything lends her a dorky quality that make her gargantuan ambitions somehow endearing. Since she took the editor-in-chief spot at Marie Claire two years ago, the magazine's newsstand sales have plunged nearly 30%, but you get the feeling she doesn't let it get her down! And anyway, people are paying attention to Joanna this Fashion Week because she just hired Project Runway judge Nina Garcia away from Elle. Fashion people sometimes say bitchy things about Joanna, mostly "that Joanna Coles is a nerdy poser who has to pay Nina to sit next to her at fashion shows," because fashion people are ridiculous and so is Joanna, a little bit. Just today Fashion Week Daily ran a huge long interview with her along with a little gossip item that seemed harmless but was actually sort of cruel! Read that and our Coles FAQ — and just for kicks, see a pic of Nina Garcia in a realllly short skirt — after the jump.
Oooooh, "suffered"?? "Lookalike" son? Ouch!
Who is Joanna Coles? Well, for starters she is an actual real journalist, and was a longtime New York bureau chief for the Guardian in London before she got into fashion magazines, which is one of the reasons she is considered an "outsider" by fashion people. She is an outsider! Man, would it kill the fashion community to be kind to its earnest newcomers? Yes! Seriously, guys! Well, in defense of the shit-talkers there is nothing more irritating than the British person who comes to New York and succeeds by embodying all the irritating traits for which British people are always mocking Americans. For instance, in the interview today, she admitted that she had been keeping a diary since she was seven. Who does that? Navelgazing Americans! She admitted in another interview that she really admired marathon runners and that she was training for a half-marathon herself. Who does that? Pointlessly overachieving Americans! She famously got her job by running after Hearst president Cathy Black's JFK-bound limo and jumping into it for an hourlong pitch session and she is proud of that fact. Who does that? You know, I bet the intern who took herself seriously enough to show up for work after her poopfest would do that. Amanda from The Paper would do that. I would never do any of these things and that my friends is your public service announcement for today.
She doesn't seem a lot like Nina Garcia! Yeah, she's pretty much the exact opposite of Nina Garcia, who is known for liking nice things, taking a lot of vacations, engaging in the odd extramarital dalliance, hanging out with the indulgent socialite likes of Tinsley Mortimer and Vogue editor Lauren Davis and never really giving a shit about the whole "having it all" dilemma that is one of the foremost obsessions of Joanna and her nanny advocating deputy Lucy Kaylin until she found herself pregnant at age 42. But Nina is famous/on famously good terms with all the luxury brand gatekeepers, and Joanna is an opportunist, so that's how that happened. Should I work for her? Joanna's writers and editors mainly seem to love her. Part of this is because women's magazine employees have either been beaten down by the oppressive stupidity of the Bonnie Fuller model (Bonnie edited Cosmo, Glamour and Us) or the oppressive conspicuous consumerism of the Anna Wintour one, but it's also because she's a smart, genuinely good person who is neither fake nor insecure, and that is rare in the top spot at women's magazines! Just know that she is very intense, starting at the interview stage! Enemies? Well, Como editor-in-chief and fellow Hearst editress Kate White can't love that she made a point of telling Fashion Week Daily:
We don't do Ten Ways to Have Sex with your Boyfriend Tonight.' We took the word "orgasm" off the cover. It's a much more knowing, much smarter approach.
But Elle mastheaders are probably Joanna's main enemies, because the two French-transplanted brands (which used to share an owner!) are basically the only two magazines still bothering to attempt to be simultaneously "smart" and "fashion-forward" and that can be death to the newsstand performance, as Joanna has learned! Elle has had a lot more luck, but they've had Project Runway and the distinction of having always been an actually good magazine. Marie Claire likes to point out how its readership has gotten wealthier*, and also that the Hearst building is about ninety million times nicer, but that would make a job there that much harder to leave.
*Ha ha, since I stopped having to buy it for Jezebel@