Saturday, May 2, 2009

`Parade''s `Vogue'/Conde' Nast Historical Connection--Part 2

(The following article first appeared in the 11/18/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative newspaper Downtown)

(See below for part 1)

After losing money early in the 1930s, Vogue started to make money again for Mr. Conde’ Nast by the middle of the 1930s. But his Vanity Fair magazine was unable to compete with The New Yorker and Esquire in the 1930s, and by 1934 Mr. Nast’s magazine publishing empire was on the verge of going bankrupt.

The chairman of the UK’s Allied Newspapers and Amalgamated Press (which owned the London Daily Telegraph), Lord Camrose, however, then lent Mr. Nast $1 million—and provided him with $300,000 in additional working capital—in exchange for the right to secretly purchase the Conde’ Nast magazines. And, according to The Man Who Was Vogue by Caroline Seebohn, “within the Conde’ Nast Office,” the British owner “Camrose was given the code name, BARROW, to maintain secrecy,” about who now actually owned “Conde’ Nast’s magazines” after 1934. The Camrose family’s Allied Newspapers and Amalgamated Press owned Vogue until Allied Newspapers and Amalgamated Press, itself, was purchased by UK media baron Cecil King’s Daily Mirror group in 1958.

Nast had shut down his original Vanity Fair magazine by the late 1930s. But in 1939, Nast launched Glamour magazine, three years before his death. When Nast died in 1942, Vogue’s circulation was around 220,000.

After divorcing his super-rich first wife in 1925, Nast apparently had used his power in the fashion magazine world to provide himself with a pool of women companions, as well as with a pool of surplus spending money. As The Man Who Was Vogue book revealed in 1982:

“Some were actresses, some were models, some were debutantes. Most had some connection with his magazines, which provided an…ever refillable pool. Some were hired for temporary assignment, others were brought in by Nast himself. He was in the habit of meeting some pretty thing at a party in New York or Newport and inviting her to work for Vogue. A resigned [Vogue Editor] Edna Chase then had to find these charming amateurs jobs for the duration of the employer’s infatuation.”

The same book also described how Nast operated in relationship to women inside the Vogue office:

“The office itself was in effect both an escort service and a feudal village…Any unmarried woman drifting down the corridor was fair game…The staff disseminated endless stories that the new model on the cover of Vogue was one of Mr. Nast’s latest imports; that Mr. Nast made sorties to Grand Central Station and asked the prettiest girls arriving in New York if they wanted jobs on Vogue; that he had a separate apartment near the office where he spent romantic afternoons…”
(end of part 2)

(Downtown 11/18/92)

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