c.2013 New York Times News Service
c.2013 New York Times News Service
NEW YORK — Victoria Beckham stood backstage after her show last Sunday morning, surrounded by reporters asking questions about her spring 2014 collection, while her husband, David Beckham, was off in another part of the room, tending to their toddler, Harper. Glenda Bailey, the editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar and one of Victoria Beckham’s early champions, stood patiently nearby, waiting for the throng to subside. After a few moments, Beckham noticed Bailey standing there and reached out and embraced her.
“Thank you so much for coming,” Beckham said.
“I loved it, really,” Bailey said, animatedly emphasizing the word love, her voice immediately recognizable as the one that was once described by a reporter as “a northern British accent devoid of almost all grace notes.”
Eager to get back to the Hearst offices during the 90-minute break before the next show began, back downtown, the copper-haired Bailey navigated a maze and, to a guard’s dismay, moved a temporary wall out of her way.
“It’s all in a day’s work,” she said with a laugh, heading toward her car while talking about a look from the collection that she had particularly liked: a fitted black dress with a touch of white. “The idea of wearing a black base with a touch of white is going to be key for next season,” she said.
Just before the show, Bailey talked about how she tried to manage the logistics of the “fashion month” safari that started Sept. 5 in New York and will go through London and Milan before ending in Paris in early October. Trying to find a manageable wardrobe that would carry her through the four different fashion weeks was one challenge — today she was dressed in an elegant black Derek Lam dress, which she accessorized with a black Balenciaga bag and black Alexander Wang shoes that had thick straps crossing at the ankle — but controlling her allergies was just as big a trial.
“If you see me tear up, it’s due to allergies, not because I’m overcome with emotion at the collection,” she said, showing the humor that is well known to both staff members and readers of Harper’s Bazaar. “I’m not the sort of person who sits at the shows with my sunglasses on.”
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Bailey dropped her bag at her office, which is furnished with white Barcelona chairs, black-and-white photographs and one touch of color, an illustration of Bailey by the Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld. The windowsills are covered with awards for the magazine, where Bailey, 54, has presided since being named editor in chief in 2001 after a spectacular run at the British and American editions of Marie Claire. The American edition increased its circulation by 80 percent under her editorship.
The magazine’s design director, Elizabeth Hummer, came bearing page layouts, and Bailey quickly approved the front-of-the book pages for the November issue. The theme in the feature section is inspired by a quotation from the revered Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow: “Elegance is good taste plus a dash of daring.”
As she looked over the pages, Bailey expressed doubts about the colored type introducing the section. “It’s just the way the pale lemon will print,” she said. “I love it, but I’m just worried it won’t work out.”
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Before getting into her car to head to the Derek Lam show, Bailey said her first priority at the collections was to find a look that would work for a forthcoming cover of the magazine, and if she spotted a contender the magazine would put an exclusive on it. Often that process begins with a brief exchange between Bailey and one of her editors. At the Victoria Beckham show, Bailey discreetly snapped photos of pieces she liked as the models walked by, and then turned around to show them to Joyann King, the magazine’s digital director, who was sitting directly behind her in the second row.
“I love that one,” King said. Bailey replied, “I’ll send it to you.”
The editors are also clocking trends. In less than a week, photography will begin on items culled from this week for the February 2014 issue.
“We are only three major shows in, and we’ve seen lots of gray and the introduction of pastels,” she said. (The October issue, on newsstands Sept. 24, features Miley Cyrus on the cover in a Burberry Prorsum dress from resort 2014; subscriber copies will show Linda Evangelista wearing a black Azzedine Alaïa dress from fall 2013.)
As she entered the white gallery space where Lam was showing, Bailey was embraced by Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, the head of the company and the designer’s partner. As the two went backstage, a black-clad assistant searched for Lam: “Anyone have eyes on Derek? Glenda Bailey would like to say hello.”
Bailey gazed up at the look board of the show above her head and zeroed in on Look No. 13, a midcalf denim dress with a wide belt. “I have been saying we are going to see some longer lengths, and that length is really new and exciting.” Bailey found the dress hanging on the rack and enthusiastically announced: “I am correct. I love the shape of this.”
At the next stop, the DKNY show at a Chelsea theater, a crowd of people holding their seat assignments swelled into the street, waiting for the doors to open.
Honking taxis tried to get by idling SUVs. Bailey chatted with Fabrizio Freda, the Estée Lauder chairman, about trips to Europe, the U.S. Open and a promising young model.
“She is in school, so she can only be in work when she is on vacation,” she said. “I promise you, she will be a huge star and is quintessential Lauder.”
Once inside, Bailey was greeted by Donna Karan, and the two began to talk about getting together for lunch.
“This woman is a woman with a heart!” Karan exclaimed. “She is much deeper than fashion. She gets into the soul.”
A throwback to an earlier, graffiti-filled New York, the show opened with the Beastie Boys blaring in the background. Bailey spotted another trend, logos, noting that Alexander Wang’s collection the day before was full of them.
“We haven’t seen that for a while,” she said. “A logo says, ‘This is what I stand for.’”
The day then passed swiftly. Thakoon at 3 p.m. (Bailey posted on Instagram: “I love that Thakoon has a modern edge but glamour is never far away — the diamante clasps were fabulous.”), Diane von Furstenberg at 4, a quick drop-in at a party at Jeffrey New York for Loewe/Comme des Garçons, on to Zac Posen at 7 and then the Ralph Rucci show at 8.
The good news? Her allergies were kept at bay.
“When it comes to Fashion Week,” she proclaimed, “you need your eyes.”