YOUNG GUNS, AND OLDER ONES, TOO: If there’s one thing that Tatler magazine has proven, repeatedly, is that fabulous-ness has no age.
Unlike some of its youth-obsessed sister titles in the Condé Nast stable, the magazine — which has been going since 1709 — gives every generation their due and doesn’t shy away from gray hair, sags or wrinkles — as long as the owners of said features are charming, relatively wealthy or have something to say.
The September issue, Tatler’s annual fashion special, which hits newsstands on July 29, features on the cover the 55-year-old Cindy Crawford, dressed in a lilac Chanel mini skirt suit, and photographed by Victor Demarchelier at a Malibu ranch.
Last month’s issue had the 17-year-old Delphi Primrose, granddaughter of the Earl of Rosebery, while July was a tribute to Prince Philip, who died earlier this year. The cover showed a younger version of the prince in military dress waving to the crowds, with Queen Elizabeth by his side.
And like so many other publications, Tatler wondered in its June edition what sort of woman Princess Diana would have been, aged 60. She was the cover girl, with a feature by her biographer Tina Brown, one of the editor in chief Richard Dennen’s predecessors at the helm of the British magazine.
And, like a long-term investment, that anti-ageist point of view has been paying some dividends.
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In an interview from his office at Vogue House in London, Dennen touts a recent win for tatler.com, which he’s built up during his three years on the job.
“One-hundred thousand people read the story about Princess Caroline’s new gray hair look” at the Red Cross Summer Concert in Monte Carlo earlier this month, said Dennen with great satisfaction.
Cindy Crawford on the cover of the September issue of Tatler magazine. Image Courtesy of Tatler, Victor Demarchelier Victor
Other numbers at Tatler are on the rise: On Dennen’s watch, the magazine’s unique monthly users have grown to 1.6 million from 300,000 when he arrived. His goal now is to hit 2 million by the end of this year.
According to Condé Nast, Tatler was its fastest-growing brand of the year for global readers, up 68 percent year-over-year. The title has a combined print and digital circulation of 78,202, according to the ABC figures from January to December 2020.
Dennen’s priority has always been to focus on “fabulous people, places and things” in the U.K., but also internationally. He said during the interview that he also wanted his Tatler to have a newsy edge, more fashion coverage (Chanel is Tatler’s biggest advertiser) but also big doses of culture, politics, intrigue at Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament and, of course, all the updates on the dukes and the oligarchs.
He certainly has an all-access pass to the crowd that he and his team cover: Dennen studied at the University of St. Andrews at the same time as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, (although he pulls no punches when covering them) and first worked at Tatler under Isabella Blow, who was then fashion director of the title. Before joining Tatler, he wrote for The Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday.
It’s no surprise then that Dennen demands “print quality journalism,” at Tatler.com, where he spends half his working day, and is particularly proud of the print magazine’s newsy features, including a recent one on Britain’s 41-year-old Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, a graduate of Oxford and Stanford universities and a Fulbright scholar.
Dennen’s September issue has equally insider-y features, including one penned by the prime minister’s journalist daughter Lara Johnson-Wheeler, who tests (and models) the latest innovations in shapewear.
There’s also a feature on Tristram Hunt, the former Labour MP who’s now director of the Victoria and Albert Museum and who’s writing a book on Josiah Wedgwood, and a story about the new owners of Parnham House, the Elizabethan stately home that was destroyed by a fire, allegedly at the hands of its former owner.
Another story looks at the social, familial and political repercussions following the death of Goodwill Zwelithini, the 72-year-old king of the Zulu nation in South Africa.
Dennen said he’s gratified not only by Tatler’s numbers but by the fact that the magazine is actually “read by the people in it” — and that he can speak to so many generations at once. Looking ahead, Dennen sees nothing but opportunity. “I look at what Tatler was doing in the 1920s, and I wonder about what the new 2020s could be,” he said.
He already has part of that answer, with a fun story in the September issue on NFTs as the new status symbol — right up there with gray hair.
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