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A Boozy Wake for Bygone Magazine Editors

By January 16, 2019No Comments

Source : The New York Times

Retail moguls toast their own struggling industry at separate gala.

The era of the lavish book party, like the golden age of glossy magazines, is mostly in the past.

Like fading neutron stars, both collided last week at the Waverly Inn, the clubby restaurant in the West Village. Graydon Carter, an owner of the Waverly and the former editor of Vanity Fair, hosted a cocktail party for Lili Anolik’s book “Hollywood’s Eve,” a biography of Eve Babitz, a keen observer and pop-culture tyro of 1960s and ’70s Los Angeles who is enjoying a publishing revival.

The gathering looked like an early-bird special for aging bons vivants. In one corner were Debbie Harry, the Blondie singer; Victor Garber, the actor; Christie Brinkley, a former model; and “Baby” Jane Holzer, the onetime Warhol superstar.

Also spotted were the writers Sloane Crosley and Brad Gooch, the journalists James Wolcott and Ken Auletta, and several recently dislodged editors, including Tonne Goodman of Vogue, Linda Wells of Allure and Robbie Myers of Elle.

It soon became clear that the party was as much a boozy wake for bygone magazine jobs as it was a book celebration.

“We were all fired on Valentine’s Day,” an editor at Vanity Fair was overheard saying. “Fittingly, it was also Ash Wednesday.”

Mr. Carter, who left Vanity Fair in 2017, said he is working on “a couple of documentaries,” although he declined to give details. So why was he hosting this party? He published the 2014 profile in Vanity Fair by Ms. Anolik that grew into her new book. And no, he never published works by Ms. Babitz herself.

“I’m not that old,” said Mr. Carter, still sporting his trademark tricorn of unruly silver hair. “I know I look like the Queen Mother, but no.”

Publishing is not the only industry suffering. American retail, buffeted by online shopping and changing consumer habits, is also in crisis.

But you wouldn’t necessarily hear that at National Retail Federation Foundation’s gala on Sunday night at the Sheraton Times Square. The foundation promotes careers in retail, but it was having difficulty promoting is own event when Jessica Alba, the actress and founder of the Honest Company, pulled out a few days ago.

(Apparently there was a filming conflict, although according to her Instagram Story feed Ms. Alba did find time to throw a 40th birthday party for her husband over the weekend.)

By Sunday night, however, the foundation had managed to recruit a ragtag band of celebrities including Nicky Hilton Rothschild, a socialite and handbag designer; Kenan Thompson, a “Saturday Night Live” cast member; and Matthew Morrison, a former star of “Glee.”

At the pre-dinner reception, where waiters served bacon-wrapped scallops, the mood was like a birthday party in a hospital ward. “Retail died, and I like malls,” Mr. Thompson said of his reason for being there.

“Retail is not bad,” Ms. Rothschild said. “Far from it.”

Mr. Morrison recalled working at the Gap in 1997, while he was a student at New York University. “I was in charge of the denim wall,” he said. “I still fold my denim really well. Marie Kondo has nothing on me.”

Among the two dozen retail executives honored that night was Jennifer Rubio, a founder of the luggage brand Away. “I was fired from retail,” Ms. Rubio said of her brief stint at the Hollister store in the Bridgewater Commons mall in New Jersey. “I just wasn’t very good at folding T-shirts and didn’t show up on time — the two things that were essential to the job.”

She said her advice to her own young employees is: “Don’t do anything I did.”

Snoop Dogg, arguably the biggest celebrity of the night, presented an award to Chip Bergh, the chief executive of Levi Strauss & Co.

Turns out, Snoop Dogg once toiled in retail, too. “At a Lucky’s in North Long Beach,” he said, referring to a supermarket in his California hometown. “I loved it. I could steal food and steal groceries every night.”

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