Glenda Bailey On A Harper’s Bazaar Revamp, S.F. Style, And Reality TV

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Earlier this week, Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey arrived in town to sign copies of her new book at Coach’s Post Street shop. The tome, Harper’s Bazaar Greatest Hits, celebrates Bailey’s first ten years with the magazine by featuring a series of striking fashion editorials from throughout the decade. We caught up with the brilliant Brit to talk about a Harper’s Bazaar revamp, any Devil’s Wear Prada comparisons, and a possible reality show.
What was it like to reflect on ten years of fashion, and your career?
“I'm very fortunate, because I've been an editor-in-chief for 25 years plus. I believe working your way up is way overestimated. I started as a fashion designer, in terms of my studies. But because I knew I was not good as a fashion designer I thought I that might make me a good editor. I make the most of other people's talent and I'm blessed to work with the greatest writers, photographers, stylists, celebrities, models, and hair and makeup in the world! That is a tremendous privilege.”
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You obviously like to blend humor with fashion — what trend from the past ten years has been the funniest to you?
“I don't really believe that any trend should be banned. I like the evolution of fashion. So it's very difficult for me to pick trends that I love and trends that I don't love. I'm also editing the magazine for women who are of different ages, with different tastes. I'm all about giving them different ideas and suggestions and letting each individual make up her own mind about what works for her. That's the most important thing to me: personal style.”
How do you like San Francisco, and what do you think of the fashion here?
“I love being here! I love the fashion here, and today I just noticed on the street, everyone is really stylish. It almost has a European flavor. I like the spirit on the streets. Everyone looks really great."
What advice do you have for fashion designers in today's industry?
“I think the first things are: Know your customer, be very focused, work really hard, and also be determined and realistic.”
Is being an editor-in-chief anything like The Devil Wears Prada?
“Oh, it's way worse than that!” What does it take to work at Harper’s Bazaar?
“Someone who doesn't understand ‘No,’ and turns every ‘No' into a ‘Yes.’ You have to realize that ‘No’ is the first point of negotiation. And you also have to have a healthy sense of humor.”
Many magazines have reality shows nowadays. Would you ever consider having based on Harper's Bazaar?
“Well, years and years ago, when I was on British Marie Claire, I actually did a reality show-style documentary. And of course, that was something that made Marie Claire really successful at that time. For Bazaar, I think, If the right opportunity came around, I would always be open to it.”
What's next for Harper's Bazaar?
“First and foremost, we are really excited because we have a redesign happening in March! We are getting bigger, and we're going to have better quality paper. So, this is all very exciting and also, we're very excited to be more present online and in social media — lots of work ahead!”
Photo: Courtesy of Drew Alitzer
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