Thomas A. Florio has been publisher of Vogue for three years now and when he came into the Four Seasons for lunch, he detoured briefly to the table of Conde Nast topper Chuck Townsend. "Had to say hello to the boss," said Florio, whose brother Steve used to be "the boss." Tom's had a pretty good run at Vogue so far, with 3,000 pages of advertising last year and running slightly ahead of that pace through this May, a 1.15 million rate base about to increase to 1.2 million, and a $3.99 cover price headed for $4.50. Since Tom previously ran men's magazines I asked if there were a difference in publishing a women's book. "One is the ocean, with tides, waves, sharks. But I'm surrounded by sweet, tough, beautiful women. A men's magazine is a lake." He's about to turn 49, doesn't look it, bikes about 42 miles most Saturday mornings with a bunch of guys and will compete in a mini-Iron Man this October. Does he get along with his powerful editor, Anna Wintour? "She watches my back," he said enthusiastically, "and sometimes my back needs watching." Tom prefers to measure gains in ad revenue rather than in pages. "If we can keep selling 3,000 or so pages a year, and we increase the page price 5% a year, you figure it. Revenues are the thing." Vogue's leading categories, fashion, beauty, retail. When we talked about today's retailing, Florio remarked, Ron "Galotti once turned down Target as not up to Vogue's standards. I'm still living with that." When Florio spoke of value-added Web sites and the like, he said shopvogue.com, a Web site made up entirely of ad pages from the March issue, generated a million ad views. I asked whether his competition was discounting the rate card. Extending his hands to denote a spread, he said, "We charge about $175,000 for a spread. I don't want to get into names, but I had a customer, a European who owns his own company, tell me he'd been offered a spread by one of our competitors. For $16,500." When I expressed astonishment, Florio said, "he showed me the insertion order." And is there life after Vogue, after Conde Nast? "Sure," said Tom, who has three kids and a house in Sag Harbor, "Bicycles. There are bikes today that sell for $7,000, $10,000. I'll open a bicycle store."
Big, splashy New York Times piece about Liz Smith, one of "gossip's vanishing breed." But if Katharine Q. Seelye, who wrote the piece, ever opened The New York Post she would know that Smith's column and that of Cindy Adams aren't "part of Page Six." For shame, Katharine Q. Seelye.
Architectural Digest will celebrate architects, both the established "stars" and the new talents, in their May issue out April 12.
I love their tennis. But a "reality TV" show starring Venus and Serena? Speaking of which, Susan Ungaro of Family Circle tells me Venus is defending her title in the Family Circle Tennis Cup now through April 17.
Details (Fairchild Pubs) editor Daniel Peres isn't a man who runs from a provocative coverline. The April issue announces, "Why having sex with your teacher is OK with us," "Matthew McConaughey drinks Tequila for breakfast," "Anderson Cooper on his mom's sex life." Whew! I'm emotionally drained just retyping them.