‘Departures’ Surprise Author: ‘Town & Country’ Editor Jay Fielden

Article for rival title deals with fire in Fielden's house

Is Jay Fielden, the editor in chief of Town & Country, moonlighting for Departures? It’s unusual for the editor of one magazine to write for a rival title, but if you’re one of the select few who gets American Express Publishing’s Departures (it’s exclusive to American Express’ Platinum and Centurion cardholders), you’ll stumble on an article that Fielden wrote about modernist houses in the May/June issue.

There's a back story, of course. When Men’s Vogue folded in 2008, leaving Fielden without a magazine to edit, he got a call from Richard David Story, Departures’ editor in chief. “Jay and I had worked together at Vogue,” Story recalled. “I like Jay enormously. I was sorry for him. After it folded, I asked him to lunch at the Century Club. I told him I really wanted someone to write a piece on these houses.”

By the time Story was ready to actually run the article, Fielden had landed another job, at Hearst’s Town & Country. The magazines are, strictly speaking, rivals, but that didn’t seem to bother either of them. “We have different enough approaches to how we do our magazines,” Fielden said. “Even if we are [competitors], we’re obviously very friendly and colleagues, and it doesn’t hurt to let the Cold War that existed maybe pre-2008 to fall.”

It's not the first time Fielden has gotten around, editorially speaking. After the demise of Men's Vogue, he worked on a book about Vogue creative director Grace Coddington, and his house was featured in Elle Decor. "I do a lot of work for other magazines," he quipped.

The story, titled “From Glass House to Your House,” went through one important change: Fielden’s own modernist house in New Canaan, Conn., caught fire after he wrote the article, forcing him to flee with his family.

“We held the piece because I wanted to have it for a special issue,” Story said. “In the time we waited, Jay’s house burned to the ground. So there was another call of condolence to Jay. I said, ‘I have to have this as part of the piece.’”

The May/June issue is Departures’ culture issue, and Story chose it to unveil a series of changes, including a new logo. Story said he wanted the magazine to look more contemporary and reflective of the post-recession world, as opposed to a “dumb rich person’s magazine.” Those touches include naming his editor’s letter “Living the right life” and a new tagline for the Style Etc. section, “The art of appropriate acquisition.”

“Everything is constantly evolving,” Story said. “So I think it’s time for evolving.”