September 28, 2019
Gatecrashing royal parties, Rupert Everett cleaning his flat… after 30 years with Condé Nast, retiring chairman Nicholas Coleridge had plenty of material for his gossipy new memoir
Nicholas Coleridge: colossus of the glossy mag
Nicholas Coleridge, for so long the great panjandrum of the UK wing of the Condé Nast empire, still remembers with perfect clarity the moment he fell in love with glossy magazines. Lying ill in bed at the age of 16, he opened a copy of Harpers & Queen he had borrowed from his mother, and the world tilted on its axis. “That first couple of hours with a glossy changed my life,” he writes in his new memoir. “I was mesmerised.” He loved it all – the writing, the pictures, even the “gentle waft” of fragrance that emanated from the advertisers’ scent strips – and in a heartbeat he knew that it was in this world he wanted to make his career. Even as he was still in his pyjamas, he was scribbling an article. It was called How to Survive Teenage Parties – a piece that, he says now, sought to define the different kinds of people you would meet at groovy gatherings on “the wild frontier” between Sussex, where his family had a house, and Hampshire.
In the long years since, little has changed. The love affair continues. Coleridge will finally leave Vogue House, Condé Nast’s London HQ, at the end of this year, when he retires as chairman of the company. But he remains fully in thrall to magazines. Yes, many of them are in serious trouble (soon after we meet, it’s announced that Marie Claire is to close its UK print edition after 31 years). Yes, their budgets are vastly smaller than in the glory days (Condé Nast, publisher of Vogue, GQ and House & Garden, has only just crept back into the black, after posting a loss of £13.6m in 2017). But, he insists, they are not dead yet – and nor have they become boring, whatever I might think (to me, they seem like catalogues now, lacking the wit and drama that I too once loved).
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