In the old days, a glossy magazine for the landed gentry was an
easy job for an editor; you'd do some deb's dresses, a couple of balls,
Lord so-and-so's family in their lovely home and a swift nod to the
social calendar, then wrap it up and send it to the printers. These
days, however, it's a whole lot more complicated than that.
As the social mores of the readership have changed - from being caught
doing cocaine in Cannes by News of the World to checking into rehab or
garnering a late night gameshow on Granada Men and Motors or 4Later -
the debs and bachelors that were the meat and drink of Tatler and
Harpers & Queen are entering the new millennium with a bang.
Former debs diary queens like Lady Victoria Hervey and Tara Palmer
Tomkinson are as likely to appear in GQ or Loaded as they are in the
pages of the magazines that made them. Both are also regular fodder for
the tabloid press.
At the same time, there's been a spate of launches that overlap with
this sector - from Conde Nast's rather brassy Glamour to the
fast-growing Wallpaper*'s various spin-offs including a fashion magazine
to be launched this summer - and have had an effect on the market. The
Sunday Times Style section also continues to pick up fashion stories
that would have made good Tatler and Harpers copy and can run these
stories on a weekly rather than monthly basis.
Maybe it's no coincidence that both magazines have changed editors in
the last year. Tatler recruited Geordie Greig from The Sunday Times in
the summer and Harpers took Tatler deputy Lucy Yeoman shortly after.
Now both are repositioning their magazines in this increasingly
'I think both magazines are still top of the tree in their markets,'
says Alix Robson, managing director of Aurelia PR which handles Jaguar,
Bang & Olufsen and Versace. 'They might have been at risk if they hadn't
made such bold appointments. Geordie is clearly making Tatler more
literary with his Sunday Times contacts, while Lucy is going for the
modern elite. At this stage, Geordie's transformation looks more
Robson adds: 'Clearly, at the moment, it's about shoring up both their
positions very effectively and it's worked in that our clients still
clamour to be in those titles. They do have to keep on their toes,
however. Wallpaper*, for example, offers the chance to see fashion in a
lifestyle context and many of our clients worship at its altar, while
Vogue is still the absolute bible, so it doesn't do to assume your
market won't change.'
Editor: Geordie Greig
Publisher: Conde Nast
Circulation: ABC 82,071
(87 per cent are ABC1s)
'I took over as editor in August last year and wanted to move the
magazine on a little - to make it more modern and eclectic and represent
the new interests of our readership.
'We are the premier society magazine and have the highest income per
reader of any magazine in the UK. That used to mean a traditional type
of audience, but this is no longer true. If you look at our May issue,
we've got a cover shoot with Heidi Klum and inside the magazine she is
posing with four Etonians, all stripped to the waist - which should stir
up a bit of controversy.
'There's an interview with four aristocrats who are setting up a stud
farm in Uzbekistan and we shot them naked in a sauna, the African diary
of Elton John's boyfriend, a new food column from Tom Parker-Bowles, who
'One feature is on the hotel bachelors, who spend all year in hotels at
around pounds 150,000 a year and we interview society DJ Claude Shalle,
who earns pounds 50,000 a night DJing for society and celebrity dos.
This sort of content wouldn't have been in the magazine a few years
'Our readers are changing and so are we. We are cheekier, wittier and
reflect the concerns of our audience - so it's a global look at society,
travel, food, sex, drugs and rock and roll.
'We're almost where I want us to be but there's always room for
improvement. Nicky Haslem has just come on board as a contributing
editor and there's a new column starting in June called 'The One That
Got Away'. I don't want to say too much about it, but let's just say
it's not about fishing. Well, not in the rod and line sense.
'The PR industry totally gets it. We're getting more approaches with
more products than ever before. They're as excited as we are. But then,
when you're the only magazine that Charles Saatchi has delivered and
Tina Brown's favourite read, you can see why they'd get a bit carried
HARPERS & QUEEN
Editor: Lucy Yeoman
Publisher: National Magazine Company
Circulation: ABC 87,423 (85.4 per cent are ABC1s)
'I joined last November. It's a bit spooky, because Harpers & Queen
merged on the day I was born so we are the same age.
'I came over from Tatler, where I had been deputy editor, although I did
get a job at Vogue in between but only stayed a day.
'When I joined Harpers I saw a strong magazine with a great team but one
that perhaps needed to get ready for the 21st century. All of the
magazine spoke with a strong voice, but I think sometimes the voices
were different. We had to decide who we were speaking to and how we were
going to speak to them.
'First off, our reader is a woman, whereas Tatler is more unisex. She's
well-off, but it's her attitude rather than her age that is important.
My first issue was the March issue and we carried a piece on Generation
Flex, the generation whose best friends can be 21 or 50. We got such a
great response from that.
'Our reader likes fashion, but knows what she likes. While Vogue has to
cover all fashion, we can act as a lens. We go to all the shows and see
the collections but we filter it down because we know what the reader
will want to wear. That's not to say we avoid fantasy. I like to think
we do style with some substance and our substance has a lot of
'We're getting in new writers too. Mariella Frostrup does our cinema
column, while Louis de Berniers and Blur bassist Alex James are both
contributing editors with big features coming up this summer.
'I think our readers want us to speak with authority rather than simply
repeating back to them what celebrities are doing, which some magazines
'Some in the PR industry have cottoned on really quickly, have spoken to
me and are offering stuff they wouldn't have bothered with before.
Others are taking time and still see us as old society rather than new
establishment, but they are coming around.'