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She's looking for help

October 19, 2008|Choire Sicha | Special to The Times

Anne SLOWEY, the fashion news editor of Elle, stars in a reality competition show called "Stylista," in which contestants compete for an editing job -- it premieres Wednesday on the CW. We caught up with her last weekend at her country house, right after her trip to the town dump. Seriously.

You're Elle's fashion news director. Is that competitive? Do you and Vogue's Sally Singer slug it out?

Neither one of us has that much anger in us, I don't think. I think it's pretty clear, the magazines are so distinctly different, there are people who want to be in Vogue and then people who want to be in Elle.

What do assistants -- or "junior editors" -- at Elle do?

Well! This will be interesting to figure out when it comes time for the person to begin the job! People keep saying they're working for me -- I haven't been told they are. . . . So they'll probably do a rotation -- like a first-year med student!

Usually that position makes like $20,000 a year or something, right?

I think it's more than that! I should know. I think my assistant makes closer to $30,000. I feel like when we started it was $18,000, $20,000.

You must be overworked! After all, last year, 1 in 3 staffers left the magazine!

I think there was a lot of fat that could be trimmed -- and was trimmed. I mean, we have not reduced our numbers on the features side at all. So it's the same balance of work pretty much, though I did take on Elle Accessories and then the TV show. I'm feeling overwhelmed on the day-to-day side of things.

What's your biggest fear about doing this show?

Watching it! Which we haven't. We don't have any control over the editing. . . . I'm just not going to pay attention.


There's no turning back. You know it's serious too. These kids -- they really wanted the job! They didn't want to be on TV. The bottom line is these kids all desperately really want to work in fashion. . . . We were kept separate from them. We didn't know anything about them, and the internecine warfare that I'm sure was going on.

Speaking of warfare! You and ["Project Runway" judge] Nina Garcia were painted in a crazy way in the press!

I didn't know about this until I read about it in New York magazine! We didn't have very much to do with each other. I'm a writer, she's a market editor. . . . Suddenly there's another show -- maybe it's irresistible to go there. I think she certainly. . . . by comparing herself to me, lent it some credibility. I'm not even really conscious of the fact that, oh yeah, she used to work at Elle.

And you've been at Elle for a decade now.

Yeah I know! I think actually the industry has changed, gotten nicer over the last 20 years. I've seen unacceptable behavior, gratuitously cruel things happen, heaped upon underlings. But we don't see that as much anymore. Even the designers are more accessible. Look -- if you love fashion, to work in the industry we work in? To sit around and watch runway shoes and write about it? What's to complain about?

So, in all the little clips released from the show so far, you appear to be a monstrous beast.

Yeah, I guess I'm not seeing it that way! Just being honest and wry -- and usually at the office people sort of laugh at me when that happens. Again, it's all in the editing! My friend who works in TV out in Hollywood said the worst thing you want is ambivalence. It's nice if they like you but it's great if they hate you.

What did you eat today?

Ha ha ha. OK! Well, I haven't had a beer yet. I had an iced latte and then I had toast with goat cheese and then I had some potato chips. Now I'm having a Diet Coke. I went to the farmers market and got an apple and a pear. And I'm doing a raw-juice fast next week. I just came out of Europe where I was eating steak tartare and pommes frites. Then every January I go raw.

We were all concerned about your crash diets.

But you know, that's typical! Unless I can sit down and eat like a civilized person, I'm better off seagulling. I'm not going to throw down a hamburger and go to a show. But I'm getting my protein! It's actually a well-balanced diet. Vitamin E in guacamole -- protein in the occasional egg! It's hard to eat on the run.

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