Memo Pad: A New Lens... First Monroe, Now Minogue... Cracking A Victorian Whip...

Joe Zee's arrival at Elle as creative director has ushered in a fresh look, while longtime creative head Gilles Bensimon's involvement in the magazine has gradually subsided.

CRACKING A VICTORIAN WHIP: It was something of a cultural contrast: representatives from Hoffman Media Inc., the Birmingham, Ala.-based publisher of titles such as Southern Lady, Cooking with Paula Deen and Just CrossStitch, pitching the relaunched Victoria magazine to a roomful of potential advertisers at Le Bernadin — with Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black in tow. The magazine, which was published by Hearst until 2003 and is being revived as a joint venture between the two companies, describes itself as the authority on gracious living, and its decidedly romantic sensibility was, Black freely admitted, unfamiliar to her. (Earlier, Phyllis Hoffman, president of Hoffman Media, had cited Black's canary yellow jacket as an example of balancing traditional femininity with business acumen.) The magazine's hugely committed base of women and their clamoring for the magazine's return was repeatedly mentioned, a pointed reminder there is a tremendous audience outside of Manhattan for coverage of tea time and traditional gardens.

"Our biggest challenge was — let's cut to the chase — positioning it to the advertising community," Black said, adding she would tell advertisers, "It doesn't matter if you don't get it. The readers get it. Maybe more than any magazine we publish except maybe O [The Oprah Magazine]."

Black also posited that the women who turn their decorative wedding cake skills into small businesses and collect antique lace for sale at antique fairs should be seen as entrepreneurs, even if they wouldn't use the word themselves. Still, when it came down to it, the executive, who last year published a motivational business book aimed at women, opted for businesslike bluntness over sweet talk. "You can buy it on the newsstand, you can subscribe — or you can advertise," she said during dessert. "There's no such thing as a free lunch." — Irin Carmon

CERTIFICATES OF AUTHENTICITY INCLUDED: Author James Frey is also apparently an art enthusiast (Richard Prince did the cover of his new novel) and has partnered with Andy Spade and Bill Powers on a new gallery on Forsyth Street in Manhattan, called Half Gallery. The 350-foot-space will feature emerging artists, beginning with Matt Damhave, co-founder of Imitation of Christ. Damhave's drawings will debut sometime in April. The trio has leased the space for one year, with the option to extend it. "We're all collectors and we thought this would be an interesting opportunity to show artists that haven't had this kind of exposure before," said Powers. — Amy Wicks
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