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A NEW LOOK — AND GOODBYE: The March issue of Town & Country, David Lipman’s first as creative director, brings a healthy dose of sex to the magazine. Goodbye, Ina Garten and Nora Ephron. Hello, Lauren Santo Domingo, sans bottom, kicking her feet up in an armchair. “There are many ways to be rich these days,” said outgoing editor in chief Stephen Drucker. “We just wanted to make it feel modern and a little sexier.”
The final shoot in the magazine, by Nino Muñoz, features $73 million worth of diamonds on a soaking wet model without a stitch of clothing on. Twenty-three security guards were on hand at the shoot. “I love any page with the words ‘price on request’ six times,” Drucker said.
If the art emphasizes sex, Lipman’s redesign brings a sense of order to the magazine. He and Drucker simplified the book into three sections: people, style and living. Candid party photographs — cutout and overlapping — bring a new vitality to the front. That said, well-quality writing is largely absent in the heart of the magazine. Billy Norwich’s profile of “The Next Mrs. Astor” is a good start.
But for Drucker, it’s the end. The magazine is still his through the April issue, but after that Jay Fielden is taking over. “What I’d say is this: redoing a magazine is a long, long race. And sometimes you run it as a marathon and sometimes you run it as a relay,” Drucker said. “I’ve just run the stage of this race that I run the best, and now it’s time to pass the torch to Jay.” He was most proud of trying new covers on the magazine and “stretching the Town & Country brand.”
Newsstand sales were up 25 percent in the second half of last year, and the March issue was up 9 percent in advertising pages over the previous year. “We’re so proud of the cover that for the first time we’re mailing out the issue in an envelope that is see-through,” said Jim Taylor, Town & Country vice president, publisher and chief revenue officer.
If numbers weren’t an issue, then what? Moving Drucker over to Town & Country after five years at House Beautiful was one of Cathie Black’s last moves before she left Hearst. Drucker said he had no problems with Hearst and he complimented Hearst Magazines president David Carey, but he said leaving the magazine after only nine months was not the plan when he started. “I’m not the first person who ever came back from Christmas vacation with the idea of doing something different. The explanation is really that simple,” he said. Drucker’s last day is Feb. 28.
— ZEKE TURNER