A year before Portfolio's launch, the magazine produced mock-ups, obtained by the New York Observer. The titles are awful, but the cover lines reveal a compelling vision editor Joanne Lipman couldn't pull off.
The Condé Nast business magazine would have the inside dirt on Rupert Murdoch's man-eating wife Wendi. Infighting at Gucci. CIA informants inside American corporations. And maybe something servicey on private jets.
The make-believe stories were the perfect intersection of business with everything else, as Ms. Lipman liked to say. That is, business was never enough of a topic on its own for a story.
Imagining those stories is, of course, easier than delivering them. But it's not clear Lipman was particularly imaginative in the first place: The Observer's sources (like some others) blame the magazine's downfall in large part on the editor's lack of strong vision for the title, beyond "fancy Condé Nast business thing." (Lipman countered she was consistently aiming to be contrarian.)
At least she knew enough to reject titles like Liquid, Advance and The File. To bad all the other, more promising bits in the prototype, from the stories to the non-concept cover, were thrown out along with them.