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Wrong Patrick McCarthy?

Patrick J. McCarthy


Women's Wear Daily


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Women's Wear Daily

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Background Information

Employment History


Fairchild Publications

Web References(169 Total References)

The McCarthy Era | Michael Gross [cached]

His name is Patrick McCarthy, and this spring, he became chairman of New York's Fairchild Publications, publisher of Women's Wear Daily and W, the two most powerful publications covering the multi-billion-dollar international fashion industries.
He's survived two decades of what some would call apprenticeship-others would call it hazing-to succeed the legendarily fearsome John Fairchild as the scariest man in fashionable society. "Patrick understands it, and he lives it," says Fairchild, who chose him. And for the past 22 years, McCarthy has been Fairchild's star pupil. What outsiders saw as capriciousness, "internally we saw as his genius," McCarthy says. "People never, never, never understood [Fairchild's] theory," McCarthy says. In his years as the firm's No. 2, McCarthy expanded WWD's traditional designer-centric focus to encompass the beauty business, fashionable media, and mass-market clothing; rid the gossip pages and fashion reviews of their recklessly vicious edge; and remade the multisectioned broadsheet W, which celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this month, into an oversize, news-driven fashion-and-lifestyle magazine stuffed with provocative fashion pages and writing that can be both journalistic and incisive. He and a core group of young Fairchild editors have raised production values at Fairchild's once notoriously cheap publications. Fern Mallis notwithstanding, McCarthy has also ended most of Fairchild's famous feuds. "When things got childish, [McCarthy] would be fair," says editor Katherine Betts, who left WWD for Vogue. Adds Giorgio Armani, "Patrick understands the difference between the obvious and the truly refined, and it's a subject on which he can be quite funny. For some people in the social or fashion world,- it makes him quite dangerous. Donna Karan feigns anger that McCarthy doesn't wear her suits but has high praise for W, which she describes as "a brilliant publication." "Patrick understands what is the fashion of today," says Pierre Berge, chairman of Yves Saint Laurent. It's Patrick's time." "Because it was incomprehensible," McCarthy added. "Insulin, collagen, I'm sorry," McCarthy pleaded. McCarthy asked. McCarthy killed the story instead: "He's not worth it. Move on." McCarthy asked a few minutes later. "Yes," McCarthy said primly. Although McCarthy and Fairchild CEO Michael Coady (and until recently Fairchild) all have private offices, they are usually found at desks in the newsroom. McCarthy says, walking past the desk of WWD's beauty-business expert, Pete Born. McCarthy's laugh cuts across the office, and as heads bob up out of cubicles, he continues: "I gave it to him. And he loathes it!" "Patrick is much more aggressive than I am, much more gregarious than I am," he says. "He's not rooted in family life. He is much more comfortable with designers than I ever was." "Mr. Fairchild and I are friends, but it's not that easy a professional relationship," McCarthy says. McCarthy is by all accounts married to his work. Despite his swarming exterior, McCarthy is contained; he never reveals himself-a rarity in fashion. "My private life is my private life, and I prefer to keep it that way," he says simply. Fairchild had already let McCarthy in on his secret. He stayed away from the couture, McCarthy continues, "because he wanted the light to shine on me." While the fashion world was in Paris, the announcement was made that McCarthy was taking over, effective in March. McCarthy got the news in a C A.M. summons to an S A.M. meeting for the heads of the affected properties. "It looked like I would never actually be chairman," he admits. "People said, `Gee, that was quick.'" Nine days of anguish followed, "because there's lots of people in this world you don't want to work for," McCarthy says. "And they're a fussy bunch out there," he adds, gesturing toward the newsroom. The magazine market is volatile; W's stars might jump ship. "And the rumors were daily," McCarthy says. "Five times daily! "I believe they never intended to sell," says McCarthy. "They put out the package because that was how the bankers wanted it. The bankers want to put you into play. But they realized the people cost was too great. The explanation from McCarthy's boss, ABC president Bob Iger, is similar. "We hedged slightly" he says. THE MORNING OF THE GUCCI GALA, McCarthy visits Los Angeles magazine, then wheels a rented Mustang ragtop to lunch at Ivy at the Shore in Santa Monica. He wears a very unbeachlike suit, a tie, and brown cap-toe oxfords, just like John Fairchild's. He stares longingly at the beach for a moment. Settling in with a salad, McCarthy reminisces about growing up Irish Catholic in the Boston suburbs of Dedham and Wellesley. "Very uneventful," he says. His father was a lawyer. "Straightforward, pretty difficult, straight-arrow. If he'd chosen my life for me, this wouldn't be it. My mother did-how do you say this delicately in 1997? - nothing!" Early on, McCarthy craved urban glamour-the "higher existence" he saw in old movies. "To this day, I'm searching for the New York penthouse," he says. At Boston University in the early seventies, he studied history. McCARTHY ISN'T HAPPY WITH HIS SALAD - it isn't the one he wanted. But he eats it anyway and is delighted, in a low-key way, that Charlie Sheen is at the bar as he does. It's another reminder that he's come a long way from his first job in Fairchild's bureau in Washington, D.C. He took it because he knew that FNS had offices in Europe; he was desperate to go back. Within days, he'd moved into a motel near Dupont Circle and started writing. He covered legislation, congressional committees, and the Federal Power Commission for Fairchild publications like Electronic News, Energy User News, and Supermarket News. Women's Wear had its own writers in Washington, so there were no dinners at Kay Graham's for McCarthy. Still, he did learn that most people took his call when he mentioned WWD. "You didn't get into Metalworking News," he jokes. "Laughlin had spent his Navy career in Italy, and he urged me to get out of town at the first opportunity," McCarthy says. "Patrick had a certain confidence and sophistication that distinguished him," says Steve Stoneburn, now CEO of a medicalpublishing company. In 1978, McCarthy was made head of the FNS bureau in London. Just after he arrived, WWD's London writer quit and the editor of "Eye" started offering McCarthy assignments. His first was to cover the London premiere of Saturday Night Fever. Soon enough, he says, "no other paper ever saw me again. says McCarthy. "She hated girls," McCarthy says. He was invited over. "She greeted me in bed with her little doggie, this horrible dog, and she gave me a wonderful interview. But when he asked her to pose for a photograph, she balked. "Editor calls back in five minutes. He says `Mister Fairchild says' - this is my first indirect contact `no picture, no story' " Finally, he agreed to pay her £200 out of his pocket, which she accepted as model's rates. McCarthy ended up with the cover of W and a wire from John Fairchild. On the day they met in Paris in July 1979, Fairchild took McCarthy to his first couture show. McCarthy knew this meant something, and it changed him. "Patrick is a self-invention," says a Fairchild vet. Sitting between them, McCarthy turned beet-red, and, he admits with a laugh, he's "loathed Dryansky from then on." McCarthy knew what that meant. "I had it all," McCarthy realized. But he kept his mouth shut about it. "You will never find anybody I discussed that topic with," he says. "I instantly bonded with Karl," McCarthy says. But Elle Decor editor Marian McEvoy, another old Fairchild hand, says McCarthy never lost control: "Patrick had to be aware, had to be stable, had to be somewhat sober." "Michael left Paris to Mr. Fairchild because that was his specialty," McCarthy says. Patrick could always come up with the goods, even if it wasn't his instinct. I was aware of Patrick tense, worried, and scurrying. He never let his guard down. He had fun, though; it was a great time to cover fashion. "You'd see people go from rather modest income levels to staggering chateaux, staggering yachts," McCarthy says. Some crumbs reached his table, too. He had to turn down the minor painting by a major artist that a fabric manufacturer tried to give him, but, he adds, "when I did a story on Valentino's yacht, I had to spend a weekend on it. Karl's chateau, Versace at Lake Como." After five years, McCarthy tired of Paris. He'd interviewed the same designers too many times. He asked Fairchild for a change, suggesting a move to Los Angeles. "Los Angeles? the boss answered. "Are you crazy? So not long afterward, McCarthy succeeded Coady as editor of WWD. "I think there's a perception that I was vying," McCarthy says. "And of course there was vying. There's always vying in any corporation." * * * ARRIVING BACK IN NEW YORK IN MARCH 1985, McCarthy was met with suspicion and competition. "They were all clearly watching me," McCarthy says. "I stumbled badly" A Louise-like gossip column, bylined T. S. Smithers, went out of business quickly. "I decided we weren't going to cover certain things because I didn't think they were very interesting," he says. "I didn't have a clue about the Liz Claibornes of the world-I mean, the real industrialstrength leaders." McCarthy's first good move was to eat lots of lunches with major fashion figures. The most memorable of these was with Halston - addled on cocaine - in his glassed-in Olympic Tower aerie overlooking Saint Patrick's Cathedral. Halston kept going to the bathroom and coming back with sales projections. "The sales figures got ever larger," McCarthy says. "Two hundred million dollars, and then a billion, and then $2 billion. Then Laughlin Barker-who'd welcomed McCarthy to New York at a dinner with Perry Ellis-died early in 1986. "We covered it," McCarthy says. "Were we out in the vanguard? "Mr. Fairchild objected to that," McCarthy says. "No one else could get the story, and if anyone else got the story" McCarthy explains, banging the table in time to his words, "someone had to pay! "Absolutely" McCarthy admits. McCarthy, Brantley says, "seemed to thrive on it in a way the rest of us didn't. Fairchild says he, Coady, and McCarthy were "a team, like the Three Musketeers," but Coady was clearly the No. 2. Though the Spy story probably helped him, McCarthy thinks it was unfair. "A lot was made up, a lot was just hearsay" he says. McCarthy. "Oh, yeah," McCarthy says. "Worse than scary. In the mid-nineties, McCarthy assumed more of both Coady's and Fairchild's responsibilities, and WWD also started changing. There were still stumbles. In 1993, for instance, McCarthy admits, he was "desperate to invent my own star. He picked a handsome young designer from California, Mark Eisen, and gave him a WWD cover and two pages inside in the midst of the New York fashion shows. McCarthy was mocked. "I learned you cannot will the story if it's really not there," he says softly. "He wasn't the second coming. Very few people are." More typically, McCarthy's judgments have been sound. "The recession was in many ways a great boon to Women's Wear, because it clearly delineated our future role," McCarthy says. And although Women's Wear is still Fairchild's defining publication, the engine that drives the company, "W has become much more important," McCarthy says. "It's a different kettle of fish." So too the world they cover, which no longer includes in-and-out lists or slavish attentiveness to "society. W and WWD have "pretty much abandoned society," McCarthy says. Nobody's talking about Jane yet, although McCarthy and Pratt are talking to advertisers; the day after Gianni Versace's death, they had a long lunch with big spender Tommy Hilfiger. The assumption is that McCarthy will take exeditor Michael Caruso's Vanity Fair manqu6 and turn it into something more like W with movie listings. And McCarthy isn't opposed to printing a fib on behalf of the home team. "Generally speaking, when Women's Wear describes clothes, Women's Wear doesn't like the clothes but feels the need to describe them," McCarthy says dryly. McCarthy stoutly defends his coverage of designers and favored social figures and says his relationships with some of them never affect the way they are covered. "You find out pretty quickly who your friends are, and who wants you to get their name in the paper, and who doesn't talk to you after something is in WWD that they don't like," he says. His friends-most of them people WWD covers-say he never confuses work and friendship, but neither will they tempt him. McCarthy says Karan, she of the lagging stock price, should get to spend as much money as she wants in pursuit of creative excellence. Though WWD doesn't always break the news on Calvin, it gets the next best thing: the interview. When Calvin Klein was rumored to have AIDS, he denied it exclusively in WWD. And, of course, Klein never did get sick. "What I like most is that Patrick is always correct," says Gabriella Forte, now the president of Calvin Klein. "I'M STAYING FOR TWO MINUTES; IT'S THE enemy camp," McCarthy warns as we taxi uptown to a CondŽ Nast party for his friend Billy Norwich, who's just joined House & Garden. "Then let's not," McCarthy demurs. His guard drops for an instant.

Patrick McCarthy is the chairman and editorial director of both W Magazine and Women's Wear Daily.
He began working for Fairchild Publications at WWD in London writing on fashion and society. Today he is known for allowing mega-stars and celebrities to appear in print interviews telling-all, but perhaps without meaning to. He moved up through the ranks taking on the roles of both Executive Editor and eventually Executive Vice President of both W and WWD.

Russia!: Nine Hundred Years of..., Africa: The Art of a Continent..., Frank Gehry, Architect, In/Sight: African Photographer..., The Art of the Motorcycle, Italian Metamorphosis, 1943-19..., Giorgio Armani (Guggenheim Mus..., FRANCESCO CLEMENTE-1, Jenny H [cached]

Fashion publisher Patrick McCarthy explains, "His mission, a rather democratic mission at that, has been to return elegance to clothing without abandoning the ease and comfort that crept in during the 1960s."Armani, the catalog accompanying the exhibit at New York's Guggenheim Museum, showcases the designs of this now very famous fashion insider.Patrick McCarthy is chairman and editorial director of Women's Wear Daily.

W Magazine History [cached]

Patrick McCarthy is the chairman and editorial director of both W Magazine and Women's Wear Daily.He began working for Fairchild Publications at WWD in London writing on fashion and society.Today he is known for allowing mega-stars and celebrities to appear in print interviews telling-all, but perhaps without meaning to.He moved up through the ranks taking on the roles of both Executive Editor and eventually Executive Vice President of both W and WWD.

Designer Bill Blass Dies at 79 [cached]

"There are not many standing ovations in fashion," Patrick McCarthy, chairman of Women's Wear Daily, told People magazine."Bill just gave a little wave, barely perceptible, but it was a wave goodbye."Home | Services | Support | Kids | Seniors | Partners

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