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Fairchild recalled Brady’s entrepreneurial spirit. “He had a highly promotional sense, and when he went to Harper’s Bazaar, he managed to have the magazine photographed on the President’s plane. He then ran huge newspaper ads showing the photo — unfortunately not in WWD.”
Former WWD managing editor Mort Sheinman, said, “In the 40 years I worked at Women’s Wear, the most fun I ever had was during the years Jim Brady was the publisher. I loved working for him not only because he appreciated good writing — he himself was a terrific writer, very fast, very smooth — but also because some of us never knew, from day to day, what we’d be covering. It was daily newspapering the way it’s supposed to be.”
Sheinman continued, “He was always very cool looking, clacking away at the typewriter with his sleeves rolled up and a cigarillo dangling from his mouth, the epitome of an old-fashioned newsman. The only time I recall seeing him drop that facade and reveal what was beneath it was when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. He had covered the Kennedys early and was really shaken by that.”
After proving his chops with Fairchild in New York, Brady was sent in 1956 to the Washington, D.C., bureau to cover Capitol Hill, where he got to know such reporters as Russell Baker, Tom Wicker, Bob Novak and Allen Drury. “Lyndon ran the Senate. Nixon was presiding officer. Jack and Bobby Kennedy were making their bones. I got to know them all…” he recalled in a 2006 Forbes.com article.
From there, he was sent to London on the Queen Mary to man the helm at Fairchild’s London bureau. Among other things, his U.K. highlights included once seeing Winston Churchill “old and fat” on Budget Day in the House of Commons. Two years later, Brady was shipped to the Paris office in time to oversee the paper’s coverage of the Algerian War, sit in on Charles de Gaulle’s press conferences, detail designers’ breakdowns, befriend Coco Chanel (because she thought he was Native American), interview André Malraux, attend fashion shows, report on bombings, and various coups d’etat — and meet the Beatles en route to New York.
In the event WWD was banned from seeing a collection, staffers buttonholed buyers on the sidewalks to pump them for details. Brady also supported having someone sweet talk, wine and dine Orbach’s Sydney Gittler to get the retailer to spill the descriptions to fashion illustrator Kenneth Paul Block to scoop the competition.
Returning to New York in 1964, Brady succeeded John Fairchild in the role of WWD publisher and helped dress up the daily trade paper as it instituted the Eye page, more fashion photographs, They Are Wearings and vigorous — and biting — social coverage. He also assisted in the development of WWD’s sister publication, W, which launched as a fortnightly. After Fairchild Publications merged with Capital Cities Broadcasting, Tom Murphy tapped Brady as a vice president. But after friction developed between Brady and CapCities top management, Dick Deems at Harper’s Bazaar recruited him in 1971 to “bring it into the 20th century.” In the 2001 online article, Brady explained, “Modernizing too swiftly and alarming its elegantly aging readership, we’d reached about 1911 when Deems panicked, and I was sacked.”