MEDIA PROFILE: Fashioning the future of women - Juliet Warkentin, editor, Marie Claire

When Marie Claire’s editor Glenda Bailey skipped over the pond to take over the title’s US edition, just about every women’s magazine writer salivated over her vacant post.

When Marie Claire’s editor Glenda Bailey skipped over the pond to

take over the title’s US edition, just about every women’s magazine

writer salivated over her vacant post.



Then, when IPC appointed Juliet Warkentin from the fashion retail title

Drapers Record, there was an industry-wide intake of breath. You could

almost hear the shocked whispers: ’But she’s from the trade press, my

dear!’ Six months on, however, and the magazine’s looking just fine,

thank you.



Warkentin has just finished her March issue and is working on April and

thinking about the summer. She seems pretty relaxed about the job. When

she arrived at Drapers Record, she had to junk everything and start all

over again with the radical changes that won her PPA business editor of

the year for 1995. At Marie Claire, there was nothing like that to be

done. She is just trying to maintain the brand values but keep the

reader entertained with some ’gentle change’.



Since arriving, she has begun a series of alterations which she

describes as ’gradual evolution’. She has clarified the design,

simplified and focused (a favourite word) the type to avoid the news

magazine feel that the front pages used to have and marked off the

fashion and beauty section with different straplines. She has also

introduced a new lifestyle section at the back of the magazine featuring

interiors, food and travel.



’The Marie Claire reader wants the intellectual stimulation that she

gets from the front of the magazine and the sensory and sensual

stimulation from the middle but she’s also buying or decorating her

house or going on holiday so we have introduced a section to satisfy

that part of her life,’ says Warkentin.



The travel section obviously provides a different kind of international

writing than the overseas stories Marie Claire has become famous for,

but that doesn’t bother Warkentin. In some ways this international

reputation can have its disadvantages. ’Whenever freelance journalists

come to us with stories they always offer these sweeping international

pieces and I sometimes think they don’t read the magazine,’ she says.

’Most of our stories are anchored in women’s lives and

relationships.



’We don’t look at a piece unless it does that and you’d be surprised at

how few ideas we get which fit into that category. That’s why about 90

per cent of our ideas are generated within the magazine, which is a very

high percentage.’



Rather than just writing about how to make your relationships work

Warkentin says that Marie Claire can cover any story in the world

provided it’s done with the magazine’s spin - intelligent, aware and

rooted in women’s lives. ’The Marie Claire reader could live in

Leicester but have an interest in the life of a woman in Peru and read a

piece about her as long as we aren’t patronising.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1991: Editor, Toronto Life Fashion

1992: Freelance for the Guardian, Harpers and Queen and Elle

1992: Editor, Drapers Record

1996: Editor, Marie Claire



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