This week, The Skirted Roundtable welcomed Ms. Margaret Russell for an in-depth talk about Elle Decor (of course!), her latest book "Style and Substance," blogging and copyrights (Joni is in trouble!!) and lots of other topics. Russell is a fascinating woman - she's been with Elle Decor since the beginning - 20 years now - and as Editor-In-Chief is faced with the formidable task of putting out a quality magazine month after month, all while staying on budget in these very trying times. Thank God for Margaret Russell is all we can say! She has made a success out of Elle Decor and judging by how tough the economy is right now - we have only her to thank for the magazine's success. Russell discusses why she thinks Elle Decor has managed to stay alive while so many other magazines have left us. A graduate of Brown, she had plans to be a lawyer, but life changed everything and for that we are grateful. It's extremely hard to even imagine Elle Decor without Margaret Russell.
The book: it's wonderful - full of images from the past twenty years. "Style and Substance" was beautifully edited - painstakingly put together from masses of culled pictures - and it shows. It's lush, interesting, and gorgeous! Instead of focusing on photoshoots of individual houses, it is organized around rooms such as libraries, baths, bedrooms, kitchens, etc. Even the kids get their own chapter. Looking over all the pictures, it's amazing how many of them have become classics - shown over and over again on the design blogs to make a point or to explain a particular obsession.
Before the interview, we asked Russell to provide us with three of her favorite images from the book - and this is what she chose:
All three photographs were cover stories - this one is from Sarah Jessica Parker's summer house. This cover shot is slightly different from the image in the book and Russell explains why.
This picture of a vacation house designed by Victoria Hagan was on the cover of the best selling Elle Decor. Why? Russell tries to explain it - but popular covers are elusive. No one is really sure what is going to sell and what isn't. Rumors are this cover was the inspiration for the Something's Gotta Give house. True? We discuss that too!
And finally - this picture featuring a gorgeous bedroom by Vicente Wolf almost made the cover of "Style and Substance." Russell tells us why she eventually went with the Hagan cover instead.
As usual, Linda had to play the disciplinarian and tell us we had been talking for almost an hour and it was time to wrap it up. Why does it always go by too fast when we have an guest - we could have talked for another hour with Ms. Russell - at least! Charming, beautiful, and highly intelligent - she definitely has it ALL!!!! We are in awe, you will be too.Listen here and please leave a comment if you want to continue the conversation:
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Photo credits: SJP's dining room: William Waldron; Victoria Hagen's living room design: Michael Mundy; Vicente Wolf's bedroom design: Peter Estersohn