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Katherine Betts was due to give birth to her first child on June 24. Instead, she delivered a blow to her bosses at Conde Nast Publications.

Ms. Betts, 35, formerly Vogue's fashion news director, was named editor in chief at rival Hearst Magazines' Harper's Bazaar. She steps into the position left vacant by the death of Elizabeth Tilberis in April.

"This is my dream job," Ms. Betts said. "It's a great opportunity for me. I've been working for 10 years towards this."


Hearst Magazines President Cathleen Black contacted Ms. Betts shortly after the May memorial service for Ms. Tilberis. The two had several meetings, culminating in a pivotal one in June where Ms. Betts presented a prototype of what she would do with Harper's Bazaar if she got the job.

"Kate had put together a brilliant dummy-visually brilliant-that just blew us away," Ms. Black said.

Ms. Betts takes over at a crucial time for the magazine and for Hearst. Although still a potent brand name in fashion circles, Bazaar has lost steam with readers, remaining at virtually the same circulation level since 1994.

Since then, new titles have proliferated, including Time Inc.'s In Style and Hearst's own Marie Claire, stealing thunder from the traditional fashion bibles with their emphasis on practical fashion and real-life solutions.

Vogue was the only one of the four core fashion titles to post significant circulation gains at the end of 1998. Its circulation grew 7.6% in the second half to 1.21 million. Elle was up 2.8% to 974,816, while Bazaar was flat at 732,572 and W was down 1.2% at 410,943, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures.

In Style, meanwhile, shot to 1.2 million and Marie Claire to 840,186.


Hearst has high hopes that Ms. Betts, creator of the popular shopping column "Vogue Index," can bring some circulation power to Bazaar.

"I expect her to build on the wonderful history, including the magazine's key strengths in photography and design," Ms. Black said. "But then we want her to make it more real, more modern, more contemporary, which naturally means bigger and more successful."

Before Ms. Tilberis died, she supervised production of the September issue and most of the October issues features.


Ms. Betts, an eight-year Vogue veteran, will start full-time at Hearst on Sept. 1, after a two-month maternity leave. November is the first issue she will edit.

"I'm really interested in the broad reach of fashion and how its influence is so beyond what the next hemline length is going to be," Ms. Betts said. "Fashion now reaches into Hollywood, the music world, the art world, and that's what I

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