Why Hollywood is ‘Freaking Out’ Over a Redesigned More

The roster of media mavens, moguls and bold face names spotted today at Michael's

lunch at michaelsIn an effort to stave off cabin fever, we slogged our way into Michael’s today during what is sure to be an all-too-brief intermission between snow storms. It was a bit quieter than the regular Wednesday scene, but there were still plenty of the usual suspects on hand. Showtime’s Matt Blank, David Zinczenko and Gerry Byrne were all in attendance. They know there’s a lot of business to be done between bites of a Cobb salad no matter what The New York Times says.

Jeannine Shao Collins, Diane Clehane and Lesley Jane Seymour
Jeannine Shao Collins, Diane Clehane and Lesley Jane Seymour
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I was joined today by More’s editor-in-chief Lesley Jane Seymour and publisher Jeannine Shao Collins, thanks to our mutual friend Cynthia Lewis, who arranged for us to dish about the magazine’s stunning redesign, which was unveiled with the February issue. Lesley describes the changes as a “little facelift” in her editor’s letter, a parlance her core fortysomething readers can clearly relate to. “A lot of magazines are doing redesigns these days to get a better audience,” Lesley told me. “We did a redesign for the reader we already have.” More has clearly upped the sleek chic factor in keeping with the sophisticated tastes — and pocketbooks — of its upscale readers. Here’s a fun fact that took me by surprise: More’s median household income ($112,000) is higher than Vogue’s and nearly double that of Harper’s Bazaar. “Vogue is aspirational. We’re the magazine with the readers who can afford this stuff,” said Lesley. Exhibit A: Lesley relayed a story about a reader who bought a $28,000 John Hardy ring straight out of the pages of an issue several months ago. This month, an oversized agate ring by Catherine Prevost surrounded by diamonds prompted an impassioned email from another jewelry-obsessed reader, determined to make the pricey bauble her own just days after the issue hit the newsstands. Very good news for advertisers like Assael (on the back cover) and NetJets — who chose More for their first-ever ad in a women’s magazine.

As someone who has read More from the very beginning, I asked Lesley about the magazine’s shift from its emphasis on editorial for women over forty to one that is less specific on the issue of age. “It was revolutionary when we started with it, but the model has changed,” she explained. “Now women over forty run the joint.” And while fortysomethings comprise the biggest segment of More‘s readers, Lesley laughingly recounted a common conversation she has whenever she makes an appearance on behalf of the magazine. “Women are constantly coming up to me and saying, I know I’m not supposed to read your magazine — I’m in my thirties — but I love it.” Lesley explained who the magazine is actually for: “More is for the woman who already knows who she is and what she wants. We’re not for the twentysomethings.”

One of the things those discerning women want, said Lesley, is a magazine that is “a raft in the middle of the ocean — something relaxing — it’s not a flipper magazine.” Jeannine, who moved over from a corporate position in May to take the reigns on the business side, offered an interesting take on why that’s so important for a successful women’s magazine today. “Print is really the last form of uninterrupted media. That’s why it’s never going away.”

In order to create a more enticing editorial environment, the first order of business was cutting down the clutter. “A few years ago the mindset was jam as much as you can into a magazine to give readers more for their money. Our readers don’t need to see a page with twenty handbags on it,” said Lesley. “We’re going to show them one great bag and tell them why we love it. Our readers want to learn something on every page.” But don’t look for anything ‘101’ here — “We’re the master class.”