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:
Photo credits: SJP's dining room: William Waldron; Victoria Hagen's living room design: Michael Mundy; Vicente Wolf's bedroom design: Peter Estersohn
To listen to Margaret Russell talk about her career starting off as an editorial assistant and working with Elle Decor for the last 20 years is something that is very dear and close to my heart.
I was asked 18 years ago around the same time as Margaret started as Editor in Chief to be the Decorating Editor for Vogue Living Australia, I was eight months pregnant back then and my fate was unfortunately decided for me by one woman at the magazine who felt that I just couldn't juggle this position and a new baby. It was a very sad day for me and my life-path changed direction.
Listening to Margaret talk, I really do wish I did take on the position. I think that the woman who interviewed Margaret was a very smart lady to choose her for this creative position. I can hear Margaret's passion and love for her job in her voice and I totally relate to her in so many ways, I understand her choice to use experts in decorating and I understand her love of transparency film and her concern for photographer's credit when bloggers use their images.
Don't worry Joni, the images you and many bloggers use promote the American magazines that we Aussie's don't often see and I can understand that it does offend the photographers but it is spreading a very positive message about the magazine. I have subscribed to many U.S. magazines since I have been a blogger and I have never subscribed to mags before.
Congratulations, I do love listening to your interviews and this one is fabulous, thank you Megan, Joni and Linda for sharing this with us. I'm so sorry this message is so long, but your interview just makes me want to express my thoughts and it totally inspires me to do so much more with my day and my work.
xx Coty Farquhar
A huge thank you to the three of you for bringing us these great interviews and features every week.
Loved it!! :D
Very strange that I came to this page to see that Maria Killam has already left a comment, because I want to put in a request that you have her on the Skirted Roundtable! I believe Joni once expressed a similar opinion?
Thanks again for making good design accessible...
I have ot be honest that at first I was nervous for you all because she's such a presence but of course you 3 handled it perfectly like usual.
Off to listen to all my missed episodes- it's finally working for me!!
I agree with the above poster...how refreshing and honest she is at crediting her staff and her photographers while protecting them.
She is such smart, realistic woman, I like her no nonsense aproach, she is clear about her preferences, things dear to her and I feel how her life has been wrapped around her profession.
Love how she sticks out for the photographers and her staff.
She sounds refreshing and all fits so together with Elle Decor!
Ms. Russell is so charming and I adore her visions!
I am a huge fan of Elle Decor!
Doesn't matter whether it is a piece of export porcelain, the rug from the cover or just white - blue and white rules the day
suzanne on st. simons
Thank you so much for doing these interviews!
I love her support of the arts and it's interesting that my daughter is in art school for photography and I'm not giving credit to photographers! I am glad she pointed that out. Although sometimes sourcing a photo is difficult as was pointed out.
I have loved and still love Ann Duong's loft and bathroom. It's been in my files forever.
MR is very smart in that she understands that things are not going back to the way they were at the height for a very long time, if ever. I think Elle Decor will be just fine with her in charge.
Nice job, ladies.