Why do Women Buy Magazines? An Interview with Former French Vogue Editor

When you wear something, do you have the power to influence someone else to wear it or incorporate it into their style? That’s what the Editor in Chief of Vogue does.

Choosing what went in the magazine, it was to reflect…the way things were in fashion, in culture, and in what the French called ‘the art of living.’ We were very into the art of living,” recalled Joan Juliet Buck, the first and only American to be Editor in Chief of French Vogue from 1994-2001.

As a daughter of Jules Buck, an American film producer, her childhood was a whirlwind of famous faces: John Huston, Peter O’Toole, Lauren Bacall, Federico Fellini and many more; ever-changing home addresses: London, Paris, Cannes, Los Angeles; and the unspoken lesson that appearances mattered more than reality.

Her job gave her the means to recreate for her aging father, now a widower, the life he’d enjoyed during his high-flying years – a splendid illusion of glamor and luxury.  But such illusions cannot be sustained indefinitely, and they always come at a cost.        


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Joan Juliet Buck With Anjelica Huston, wearing Christmas scarves and all the wrappings, St. Clerans 1963.


In THE PRICE OF ILLUSION (Atria Books; $30.00; March  7, 2017), Buck offers up her memoir: recounting six decades spent in the creative hearts of London, New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Paris, and more.  The cues she had gleaned early in life from her family were about how things looked and where they came from.  

The key to success was the perception of success and the only trick to transformation was believing you were what you wanted to be.  But when her fantasy life at Vogue came to an end, she had to find out who she was after all those years of make-believe.  Now Buck chronicles her quest to discover the difference between glitter and gold, fantasy and reality, and what merely looks like happiness from the thing itself.

In light of her recently published memoir, Windy City Cosmo reached out to Buck about her life at French Vogue, how she defines style, and how she selected the cover girl.

Windy City Cosmo: How did you reshape French Vogue?

Buck: I took out the adjectives. I tripled the volume of text. I made it more imaginative and especially more playful.

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Windy City Cosmo: In managing a widely-read publication, how did you choose who to put on the cover and what stories to cover?

Buck: In not quite seven years, I had two actresses on the cover and each time I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I decided I would only put models on the cover because women buy magazines to find out what they should want to look like. They want to see models. They don’t want to see movie actresses promoting a movie. So I chose the covers according to what the fashion at that moment was and I chose the models according to the message we were trying to get across. Because actresses don’t really want to become who you really want for that moment, they want to stay themselves except prettier.

Windy City Cosmo: How did you maintain composure when staff or business partners tried to undermine you?

Buck: I maintained composure because I had no idea what was going on (she chuckles). I just didn’t know. I wasn’t used to office politics. So I wasn’t very good at interpreting certain things.

Windy City Cosmo: What are some of your best planning strategies for a timely, edited publication?

Buck: All monthly publications work three to four months ahead. So the hardest work was to take a second look at the fashion shows with actually projecting photos on the wall so that everyone could look at what we had just seen. We could look at it again and we could figure out and edit what we’d seen from the shows into a coherent narrative about what things were actually going to look like. And once we had the fashion figured out, everything came from that. The coverage of – you know if there were movies or plays or exhibitions that had to do with a general feeling that was coming off of the fashion shows that was the direction we’d go in.


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Portrait for Talk magazine by Jean-Baptiste Mondino 1999

Windy City Cosmo: How do you define success?

Buck: Feeling good about what you’re doing.

Windy City Cosmo: How do you make business relationships?

Buck: It was usually done through sympathy. I work much more on sympathy than I do on strategy. And what I discovered for myself and I’m sure this doesn’t hold true for other people and I wish it did is that an empty, manipulative strategy was always a disaster for me. Things only worked at Paris Vogue if I felt a true enthusiasm for a designer, a perfume, a situation, an event, a place. And then everyone could get behind if. But if I was only pretending to like something because it was political the thing would just be a disaster.

Windy City Cosmo: What is style to you?

Buck: I think style – personal style comes from the things that you as a person prefer to see, prefer to smell, hear, feel and when you surround yourself with the things that you prefer, you are considered to have style. If you dress according to what you really like, you have style. So it shapes – your own preferences shape your style and your style shapes other people’s perception of you.


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Joan Juliet Buck with Manolo Blanik and Paloma Picasso posing on the balcony of Roebuck House, London 1978


Windy City Cosmo: How did you find true happiness instead of focusing on the coveted?

Buck: By taking a step back and only going towards those things that I am in sympathy with – the things that really make me feel good as opposed to the things that are supposed to make me feel good.

Buying a new handbag only makes me feel good for about 4 days. But living somewhere beautiful makes me feel good all the time. Writing as honestly and as truly as I can no matter how hard it gives me enormous satisfaction. Writing something that I don’t believe withers my soul.



The Cycles of Beauty

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Remember that 30 Rock episode where Liz Lemon’s boyfriend, Dennis, reminded her that “technology is cyclical?” While bringing back Motorola’s is obviously a terrifying prospect, there’s definitely “cycles” in beauty and fashion. Consider that weird 60s revival we had in the early 2000s or the 90s influences that are starting to trickle in now. To some degree, we all ride the waves of fashion and beauty trends.

Even plastic surgery isn’t immune. As this article in New Beauty points out, we’re in the midst of something of a sea change in the field. As celebrities and the general public gradually become more open about having plastic surgery, the aesthetic trends guiding surgeons around the world are changing, too. A new emphasis on creating natural-looking results via improving proportions and embracing the individual is here, and it’s making a lot of people reconsider their long-held opinions about plastic surgery.

Let’s start with the matter of efficiency. Plastic surgery is no longer associated with long recovery periods, hyper-bandaged heads, and tight, unnatural contours. Aesthetics are big business, and new techniques and technologies are emerging quickly to meet the demands of savvy consumers. More refined surgical techniques reduce the need for a long recovery time. According to the website of Northbrook, IL plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Sisco, breast augmentation patients can count on being back in the office after only a few days.

Closeup of a smiling model wearing a large ring. Most focus is on hand.


Injectable fillers are another good example of the rise in efficiency. In the past, patients who had injectable treatments could count on results that lasted for a few months or so. But just this year, the FDA approved a new filler from Allergan (maker of BOTOX® and JUVÉDERM®) with results that are purported to last up to 18 months. We’re always looking for ways to do things better, faster, and with less effort, and beauty is certainly no exception.

The “look” is different too, which is most exciting to me. Today, we can look back on the trend of overly made-up, uniform faces — the models in the Addicted to Love music video are probably the best example of this trend — and laugh from a distance. Today the emphasis is on the individual, celebrating diversity in ethnicity, gender, and identity at every turn. In the makeup world, the focus is on fun and experimentation, while plastic surgeons report a demand for “natural-looking” teardrop-shaped breast implants in conservative sizes.


This all makes me wonder who’s guiding these changes -is it us or them? Do marketers, developers, and researchers answer our call, or do we build our tastes based on what’s given to us? I want to hear what you think about this topic, and I want to know what you think the next beauty trend will be. Will there be a backlash to our present worship of natural individuality? Or have we turned a completely new corner, never to return to our old ways?

This post was written by health and beauty author, Emmy Owens.




What’s The Return on Investment on Your Wardrobe?

Today’s lunch topic was simple. Should I buy the Louis Vuitton rain boots?

According to popular savings methodology – maybe.

In the simplest form, take your salary. Now subtract your basic needs (food, water, and shelter).

Got that number?

Now you divide using the 20/30/50 rule.

Fifty percent is for long term financial goals (think 401K, a home, etc). Thirty percent is for short-term financial goals (think a summer vacation, a pretty dress, investing in stock, or having an emergency fund). Now that 20 percent, that’s your disposable income – for things like charity, your new lipgloss, and a Bumble date to Beauty and The Beast.

When you analyze your budget (ugh, I just cringe thinking of it), you can sort your finances by seven categories:

  • Kids
  • Car
  • Clothing
  • Fun
  • Travel
  • Home
  • Career

Which of these do you value your return on investment on? When you categorize your budget, you being to see that you spend where your values are.

The above categories are from my co-worker. I made different categories for my lifestyle:

  • Uber
  • Clothing
  • Alcohol
  • Travel
  • Dining
  • Make-up/Hair
  • Career
  • Charity
  • Books/Entertainment

Think does a $12 sandwich really give me a return on investment than a $2 peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Will you go for the Banana Republic jeans or trade them for Guess jeans?

Seriously, what is the return on investment from your wardrobe?

Well, for bloggers, it might be more because they can create a brand from their style. Your style might also signify your status and position i..e you may not want to wear yoga pants to the office.

Calculate the ROI on Your Wardrobe:

You calculate the ROI on your wardrobe by taking the cost of a piece of clothing and dividing it by the number of times worn. So, for example, I bought my first coat when I was 19 years old and you know how much it cost? $50. Do you know how long I’ve had it? Since I was 27. Do you know how many times I wore it? Well, almost every day from January 2011 – April 2011 (my first time living in Chicago). Just looking at that time period alone, the cost of the jacket was .55 cents per wear. And, I continued wearing the same coat when I moved from Florida back to Chicago, so my ROI was actually negative.

That’s not a bad ROI for my time and my savings.

Below is the coat – still in good condition years later after the original purchase date:


Other ROI Considerations:

Seriously, though you can buy cheap goods, you can buy good quality, but I think ROI is more than the cost and how many times you wore the garment. It’s also how it makes you feel, if it fits your lifestyle (don’t do lunges in a pencil skirt), and if it’s weather appropriate (I hope you aren’t wearing suede in spring).

You can apply ROI to all areas of your life including your budget. But, it’s kind of shocking when you think of how much you spend on things. Because where you spend your money and where you spend your time shows you what you value.

And based off my current purchases –  an increase in Uber’s to stay out of the cold and buying pants and coats – I value warmth and stylish comfort. To balance that, I gave up alcohol and going out to lunch.

Are you just starting to think about your finances and savings? It can be intimidating.

Financial Resources:

Mint.com – money management tool

How to be single and save for a home – advice from a Chicago entrepreneur

Bustle’s Financial Blog Series:

According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. That’s why Bustle launched Grown-A$$ Finances, a series that gets real about what millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your money should feel empowering, not intimidating.





Yes, Adults Need Bedtime Beauty Routines 

I think one step to becoming an adult is one of the most basic parts of being a kid. And that is getting ready for bed.

Somewhere in between cramming for exams in college and binge drinking on Fridays, I feel like we forget that having a nightly routine is actually necessary to our sanity, if not our health (yes Mr. Dentist, I am working on flossing my teeth). In fact, a lot of adults struggle with going to bed and actually have to prepare themselves to get some sleep.

So, I’ve gone back to the basics and taken into consideration a lot of night time routines from celebs like Khloe Karadashian and beauty and health experts like Arbonne and Mojo Spa, and I’ve created my own zen bedtime routine.

Altogether it takes about 20 minutes to get ready for bed (add 10 min for a mud mask).

I encourage you to use this as a guide and make up your own bedtime routine because you’re farce and your teeth are worth it.

I start with playing hip hop music. It helps motivate me when I clean and whenIm at work and especially as I get ready for bed. The next step is to remove my make-up. Now, for the longest time I used a cleanser, but I realized I also had to use an eye make-up remover and another make-up remover because make-up is hard to take off – east to smudge, but hard to completely remove. I use a wet beauty cleansing cloth like this Collagen Cleansing Cloth that reduces fine lines and wrinkles. This is a pretty though formula for my skin and a lot of my friends like the Beauty 360 cleanser. I remove my make-up first before showering.

Then, I take a hot shower. And, get ready to put on my facial mask. I recently started using Borghese’s mask – it was inspired by a princesss and you can get it a bourgeois price at Ross or a higher price at Macy’s.

It takes about 15 minutes for the mask to dry before I remove it. So, I move onto lotion. I’m in love with Manuka Honey body butter. It smells like honey, and I love the texture and ease of spreading it all over my body – especially in the winter  when my skin is dry. Bonus: it’s not greasy.

Next, I slip into my Victoria Secret’s kimono.

Then, with my face mask still on, I brush my teeth. I recently discovered the power of using an electric toothbrush, which you can get for under $10 at Walgreens. I’ve also experimented with whitening toothpaste, but I find that Crest and mouthwash not only smell good and refresh my mouth, but also are effective preventative treatments.

Now it’s time to remove the green face mask.


[wpvideo 0AMHFdxB] My face is now clear and ready for more treatment. It’s time for sprays and facial products from Arbonne. I start off by spraying the toner twice on either side of my face and rubbing it in.

Then, I apply the Arbonne Intensive Renewal Serum. I got the age-defying beauty line because I don’t want to get Botox but I also don’t want wrinkles. The struggle is real.

Next, I put on eye cream. I use a thicker eye cream – anti-aging eye balm -at night from Mojo Spa in Wicker Park. During the day I use a light eye cream from Arbonne.

Next in my nightly routine is Arbonne Night Repair Crème. I like it because it is smooth and easy to spread on my face and neck. I’ve also tried Trilipiderm Rehydration Night Crème. I really like that one as well because it is soothing and calming with ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid and vitamins A, C, D and E.

Then, I comb my wet hair and either braid it or scrunch it. And I take generic lip balm and hydrate my lips. Note: I use to use a Mary Kay lip mask and that also helps with dry lips.

Finally, I just started using a lavender face mask that I got for 99 cents at Ross. It’s completely changed my sleep. I can heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds as I grab water.

At this point, I’ve turned off my music and I either write an article or read a book or text a boy. And then, namaste – hopefully I fall asleep.

This can seem like a long bedtime routine, and I’m not going to lie, it took awhile to get used to it and to fund and to find the right products. But, it’s helped me make my health and sleep a priority – no matter how many events I go to or how much work I have to do.

What’s your favorite nighttime beauty product?


Black. It’s not just the packaging. When I squeezed the edge of the tube, black toothpaste spread onto the matching Swiss brand, Curaprox toothbrush.

It was like that green ketchup phase. You mentally had to get over the fact that you had green ketchup on your fries.

And here I was, mentally preparing to brush my teeth with black toothpaste in the  name of cosmetology.

The marketing is a little dark like the toothpaste, but I was also intrigued by it. Curaprox launched two different black is white toothpastes in 2015.

The reason that the toothpaste is black is because it’s made from activated carbon.

So, what does activated carbon, black toothpaste actually mean?

Well, it’s natural and not harmful. There’s no bleaching necessary.

Also, it means that the toothpaste is gritty.

It also means that you’ll want to use mouthwash afterwards, because while your teeth will look more natural and white, you won’t have that minty fresh aftertaste.

Overall, I think it’s a pretty cool product. I do sometimes miss the aftertaste of my Crest Whitening toothpaste, but I do see immediate results. Black toothpaste is effective in removing my coffee stains and polishing off my pearly whites.

So, if you’re looking for a natural cleaning, let me just say, it’s more expensive, but in the words of this Amazon review, it’s “a great natural whitener.”