Monday, 24 August 2009

Cutbacks at Vogue

If, like us, you spend an alarming proportion of your waking hours (and not to mention supposed sleeping hours) online, reading fashion news sites and blogs, you'll undoubtedly have read about the cutbacks at Condé Nast, publishers of Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Glamour, and others, usually reported with a thinly veiled sense of glee. The story is that Condé Nast, faced with the global recession and a print media downturn, have called in renowned (and feared) business consultants McKinsey & Co. to "develop new perspectives on optimizing [their] approach to business, growing revenues, and enhancing [their] brand assets," a large part of which is understood to involve cost cutting at every level.

Vogue, cutting costs. Perish the thought! This is undoubtedly a serious situation (nobody calls in McKinsey & Co. for fun) and we are loath to get involved in all the snide, and often, it would seem, jealous, gossip and reporting that constantly goes on about American Vogue, but what makes this situation funny - to those of us not situated in the Condé Nast building, at least - is the ungainly collision between the notoriously extravagant and detached fashion world and the 'real' world that these measures are likely to invoke. People in suits telling Voguettes to spend less. “You want to stress this to your employees, but you don’t want the scare the living daylights out of them,” a Condé Nast employee complained after an internal email announcing the measures was circulated.

We haven't a clue what's really going on, and what McKinsey's report will recommend (and indeed it's none of our business), but that hasn't stopped us from enjoying the camp spectacle of it all, as reported in the New York Observer and, probably to a lesser degree of reliability, in the New York Post. These publications and others paint an hilarious picture of Vogue trying, honestly trying, to cut costs, but only in the most fabulous of ways. The NY Post recently reported that Vogue's travel plans for the upcoming European fashion weeks would go ahead "precisely as they have always been", with no budget cuts to speak of. This will entail "brand-new Mercedes" cars booked to ferry staff between shows, "amazing dinners planned every night," and of course accommodation in only the finest hotels "A source said Wintour stays at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, while underlings are sent to the Crillon and the George V." That sounds like fashion cost cutting to us: making minions slum it in the (supremely luxurious) Crillon!

Still, The Gilded Age of Condé Nast is Over, the headline of an article in the New York Observer declared a fortnight ago, before proceeding to spell out the details of some of the arduous cutbacks that have been made, with only the mildest hint of gloating. Graydon Carter, the very grand editor of Vanity Fair, was apparently sighted in the (Frank Gehry–designed) cafeteria for the first time, "milling around uncomfortably with the commoners." In said cafeteria, shrimp has vanished from the salad bar. Complementary Fiji Water has turned into Poland Spring which has in turn (horrors) degenerated into a tap water for employees policy. The free Orangina is no more. “Going to the spa is no longer a form of client entertainment.” Flower deliverymen no longer clog the elevators on monday mornings, taking fresh bouquets to editors' desks. As the article goes on to say, "A culture of paranoia has taken over. What all these things add up to is a hefty emotional toll on staffers: Is this what they signed up for?" And this only covers the cutbacks at Condé Nast in New York. Has anyone spared a thought for the Vogue Paris staffers, whose office coffee machine has apparently been removed to save cash? (Although the seemingly endless office supply of Balmain outfits to wear to fashion week seems to have remained intact..)

Oh, tough world.

1 comment:

  1. not shrimp in the cafe and NO coffee in Paris! this is serious