When Anna Wintour hired Chen as the editor in chief of Lucky in June, we knew that Chen would be expected to revive the glossy and make it a more contemporary option. In her New York Times interview with Chen, Marisa Meltzer notes that Chen's new role may represent a new era for all fashion magazines — not just Lucky. Leah Chernikoff of Fashionista told the NYT that Chen is the "first editor in chief of our generation," and she's right.
Chen cites that her love for Lucky first started with its product recommendations. "It broke down the barrier between magazine ivory tower, and you felt like you were friends with the magazine. It was the first magazine I read where I knew who all the editors were and was the first place I saw street style photographed. What Lucky pioneered, now everybody does." Just as Lucky removed the barrier between its audience and the magazine itself, Chen removes the distance between herself and her readers through her approach to social media. We have such an intimate knowledge of her day-to-day life that we feel as if we know her, too. Imagine: Anyone can feel that they're friends with the editor in chief of a major Condé Nast title.
For Chen, the onset of social media outlets was not only convenient, but irresistible. “I would have a meeting with Josie Maran and she’d give me eight ways to use argan oil, and I thought with Twitter now I have a place to put all that. And if you’re at a party for Lady Gaga at the Guggenheim and she hatches out of an egg, you have got to take a photo of that. There’s a curiosity about what magazine editors do, the behind-the-curtain experience.” It's Chen's lifting of that curtain that makes her role, which has been historically private, so revolutionary.
It's not just her life that Chen's making more accessible — it's her fashion, too. Her letter from the editor in her debut September issue shows her in an outfit that ranged in price from Erdem to Zara. "A great find is a great find, and I want to help people find the best of the best." Under leadership such as Chen's, she's also breaking the stereotype that higher-ups at fashion magazines wear only high-end designer clothing.
The full interview reveals even more about Chen's professional history, including a dabbling in medical school, and her inclination to help those who want to break into the journalism business: Not only has she hired several former assistants and interns, but gives two informational interviews a week. An informational interview with Chen? At the venerable 4 Times Square? There's not a single barrier remaining. (NYT)