The first issue of Vanity Fair France has hit news stands, with movie star Scarlett Johansson on the cover. Emulating the US edition’s mix of light features and investigative reporting, the magazine hopes to succeed in a crowded and tough market.
After months of buzz and speculation, the first issue of the French edition of Vanity Fair hit news stands on Wednesday, June 26, with a smouldering Scarlett Johansson gracing its cover.
Seeking to emulate the format and tone of the original US edition – a mix of short, punchy features on fashion and pop culture and longer, investigative articles on politics and current events – the monthly magazine will be run by veteran journalist Michel Denisot, the longtime presenter of popular nightly programme “Le Grand Journal” on French TV channel Canal Plus.
Anne Boulay, the editor-in-chief of the French edition of GQ, will also be Vanity Fair France’s editor-in-chief.
With a team of around 20 staff journalists, the magazine is expected to put out issues featuring mostly original, exclusive French content (about 80%) with a small selection of articles translated from the US edition.
The three main sections are “Fanfare”, which will consist of culture stories, “Fumoir”, to feature more deeply reported politically or socially oriented pieces, and “Vanity Case”, which will highlight fashion and lifestyle.
Condé Nast France is investing 15 million euros -- or $19.7 million -- in the magazine’s launch, Xavier Romatet, the CEO of the magazine publisher’s French branch, has said. It aims to break even after three years and turn a profit within eight.
Scarlett Johansson, a fitting first cover girl
As for the choice of its first cover story (written by Ingrid Sischy, with photos by Mark Seliger), Denisot told journalists at a recent news conference in Paris that actress Johansson -- whose boyfriend, creative agency manager Romain Dauriac, is French and who splits her time between Paris and the US -- was the ideal subject.
“She has every quality imaginable -- the elegance, beauty, wit and impertinence that would make her a perfectly decent Parisian if she decides to move permanently into the apartment she has bought in Paris not far from here,” he said.
In the article, the 28-year-old New York-born actress discusses her seemingly storybook life in Paris (“I live above a café where they play accordion”, she says); her recent lawsuit against a French publisher and writer for using her name in a novel (“Who is this perverted weirdo?” she asks, referring to the book’s author, Grégoire Delacourt); and her challenging collaboration with US filmmaker Sofia Coppola on the film “Lost in Translation” (“Sometimes it was as if there was no director,” she confides).
The July issue also features stories on the notorious “Bettencourt affair” (revolving around whether a younger man took advantage of 90-year-old L'Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt’s possibly fragile mental state in order to obtain gifts and money), the relationship between the grandson of deceased fashion icon Diana Vreeland and the Dalai Lama, and the 1980s glory days of famous Parisian nightclub Les Bains Douches.
For fashion lovers, the issue also flaunts a multiple-page photo spread of various models and actors posing in tableaux inspired by the paintings of controversial Polish-French artist Balthus.
Vanity Fair is known for its many pages of glossy ads, and faithful to the original, the first issue of the French edition has 93 pages of advertising out of a total of 270 pages.
‘Bright on the outside, biting on the inside’
Condé Nast France has thrown 5 million euros (or $6.5 million) into a publicity campaign for the launch of the magazine, putting up 8,000 outdoor panels – in addition to online ads – displaying a tagline that translates into: “Bright on the outside, biting on the inside”.
To motivate potential purchasers, the July and August issues will be on sale at a promotional rate of 2 euros, or $2.65. Subsequent issues will be sold at the magazine’s regular price, which is 3.95 euros, or $5.15.
The magazine is aiming for an initial circulation of 85,000 copies sold per issue, with an ultimate target of 100,000 within three years. Meanwhile, the website will offer free excerpts of each issue’s articles, with expanded access for those who pay for an online subscription.
As France celebrates its first issue of the magazine, the US edition of Vanity Fair (which has a circulation of 1.25 million) is marking its 100th year.
There are also British, Spanish, and Italian editions of the magazine. The Italian version is a weekly, and is the most profitable publication of the entire Condé Nast empire, which also puts out prestigious magazines like The New Yorker, Vogue, Architectural Digest, and Wired.
Given France’s sluggish economy and the budget-tightening and layoffs the press regularly faces here, Romatet, Condé Nast France’s CEO, has somewhat mischievously qualified the launch of the French edition of Vanity Fair as “a totally irrational project”.
We’ll soon know if he is right or wrong.
Date created : 2013-06-28