Later this summer, once the deal is closed and Elle is fully absorbed into the Hearst family, editor in chief Robbie Myers will join Harper's Bazaar editor in chief Glenda Bailey and Marie Claire's Joanna Coles under the same roof, creating a fashion magazine troika. The opportunities are many: selling across brands, teaming up on the Web and creating a petri dish of reality TV ideas.
But the balance in the Hearst fashion magazine ecosystem will most definitely be upset.
Marie Claire was originally brought into Hearst to compete with Elle, but has never quite done the job: Myers joins the company with the widest circulation and most ad pages of the three. Her magazine has the big brand name and the earliest reality TV presence, and her staff has the wacky, well-known personalities (Anne Slowey! Joe Zee!). But that doesn't automatically make her the standout in what will no doubt be a busy season of jockeying for Queen Bee status.
And the new kid on the block is already playing nice. "I'm excited to be joining two editors I respect and admire," Myers wrote in an e-mail from Los Angeles. "Some of my oldest friends and favorite editors are at Hearst -- we're all looking forward to going there."
At Hearst rival Conde Nast, it's easier to figure out who's on top: Anna Wintour. She has the chairman's ear, she magically ginned up something called Fashion's Night Out to resuscitate the industry and she participated in a major-release documentary made about her closing the biggest issue of Vogue ever. She has all the juice.
The field is wide open at Hearst, so how will the three coexist? For the last five years, Coles has been able to fill Marie Claire with a mix of women's-issues journalism and lady stuff. "We cover lipstick and slavery, the Middle East and mascara," Coles told The Independent in 2009.
Bailey's Harper's Bazaar, meanwhile, has been dedicated to aspirational and expensive living -- a catalogue for the Chanel No.5 set. "We have these beautiful aspirational images so people can dream, but at the same time we also know that even the most fashionable, knowledgeable woman wants ideas," Bailey told Media Bistro in 2007.
Beyond playing nice together, even more important is how they will try to grab the attention of Hearst Magazines president David Carey and group chief executive officer Frank Bennack, who undoubtedly will have to play Solomon in battles among the three. Who will win the turf war for resources? Who will get the hot cover star? Who gets the documentary treatment?
To understand the three better, here's a guide to The Three Graces of Hearst. And, following that image from Greek mythology, we're not saying who is Beauty, who is Joy and who is Creativity. That's for you to decide.