Can Conde Nast cut costs and keep the luster?

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Everybody loves a good party. And in the publishing world, Conde Nast is as skilled at throwing memorable fetes as it is in churning out glossy magazines.

When the now defunct Conde Nast Portfolio, where I used to work, first opened over two years ago, bottles of Perrier-Jouet champagne were given to all Portfolio staff along with a rager on Wall Street complete with male model waiters. (Other than the joltingly hot guys floating trays of hors d'oeuvres and free booze, there was also a masseuse in the corner giving out neck and back massages. If it were an earlier decade, the scene would have been hedonistic.)


This was just another day of business for Conde Nast, a party that doesn't even register in the lore of partying for this Great Gatsby empire of publishing. One would think that the partying would be over now, considering that McKinsey consultants, who staked out at 4 Times Square over the summer, recommended 25 % cuts across the board to a number of Conde Nast titles. (The New Yorker, luckily, is saved.) So, the party's over, right? No more black town cars whisking away storied editors to their Manhattan townhouses at the end of every work day?

One would think, but when you're in the business of selling life as it should be lived, as we sustainability-phobic Americans aspire to live it--like in the movies or, say, in the pages of Vanity Fair, then you've got to keep the dream alive, and that is what Conde Nast will be forced to do, depression 2.0 be damned. People want their fantasy, especially now.

As for now, they're doing that, with GQ hosting a luxurious soiree in our nation's capital to celebrate its November issue, which lists Washington's most powerful players. As a sign things have changed, staffers traveling for the event were warned to limit their expenses to $1,000 a night, per person. There's decadence, and then there's Conde Nast in a down turn. If you can't tell the difference yet, the editors of the McKinsey dissected titles have yet to make their 25% cuts. I'd rather keep my job than party like it's 2007, so here's to the parties getting the pink slip and not staffers.
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