Recession Chic: Vogue Makes Fewer Ad Pages Look Stylish

Water Cooler: What Everyone Is Talking About

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NEW YORK ( -- We've heard accessories are hot, and we guess Vogue has too. The Condé Nast title took an unusual tack with the promotional copies of its September issue shipped to the media this week, encasing the year's biggest issue in a plastic cover with a blue leather handle and buckle attached, morphing it into an adorable handbag. It even came shipped in a box marked "CAUTION (still) HEAVY."
Work it: Vogue's hefty September issue.
Work it: Vogue's hefty September issue. Credit: Hoag Levins

It's a cute idea, and a great way to lug around the weight of the hefty 4.7-pound issue. But could Vogue also be using its fetching new bag to compensate for its shortcomings? Water Cooler says yes.

Ad pages for the Condé Nast title were down 7% this year to 674 from last year's whopping and brag-worthy 727. Considering last year's page count was the mag's highest, it would be easy to blame this year's slide on a sluggish economy, tight print budgets, etc. -- except that Vogue's closest rival, Hachette Filipacchi's Elle, happens to have added 26 pages to its September issue, clocking in at a record 417 total pages. Vogue actually fared better than its Condé sister W, which plunged 17% in pages this September, while yet another Condé sibling, Vanity Fair, dropped 4.3%. So even though it's tough times for everyone in the fashion category, leave it to Vogue to turn its own ad-page loss into recession chic.

But given the momentum Elle is riding from its fifth and final season of "Project Runway" on Bravo and the buzz surrounding its forthcoming reality show "Stylista" on the CW, Vogue may need come up with some new ideas to maintain its category-leading position by this time next year.

Its biggest investment in nonprint media, website Vogue.TV, is off to a decent start in its first full year, accumulating 900,000 unique viewers and recently partnering with social-networking site Bebo for a web series called "Model.Live." But that's a small figure compared with the 4 million-plus viewers who regularly tune into "Runway," not to mention the users who visit the show's microsites at and

If "Stylista" transcends its "Apprentice"-meets-"Devil Wears Prada" premise and makes even more market strides for Elle when it makes its debut in October, Vogue may have to start thinking about how to package next September's issue. Perhaps a Swarovski-crystal-encrusted parachute with Vogue?
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