Mirabella folds

After months on life support, the "smart" women's magazine closes its pages.


The deathwatch is finally over at Mirabella as Hachette Filipacchi announced Thursday it was cutting the ailing women’s magazine loose.

The announcement came after months of speculation. Hachette CEO Jack Kliger broke the news to a group of not-exactly stunned staffers late in the afternoon.

“I don’t think anyone was surprised,” said one employee who chose to remain anonymous. “People knew we had this meeting at 3:30, so the suspense was there and the rumors were flying.”

At least one member of the editorial staff expressed bitterness, claiming the French-owned Hachette had deceived Mirabella staff by insisting it was committed to the title even as magazine watchers were taking odds on its demise. But the staffer I spoke to characterized the overall mood of the nearly 40 employees as “sad but resilient.” And all were heartened by what she described as “generous” severance packages, as well as pledges by Hachette to find work for them at another of the company’s titles.

“The advertising support has not been there for a while,” according to Anne Janas, vice president of corporate communication for Hachette Filipacchi. “This decision comes after having looked at every alternative,” she insisted, including trying to find a buyer for the nomadic title.

“I can’t remember a time in all my years there that it wasn’t about to fold, or someone wasn’t saying it was about to fold,” says Cathleen Medwick, one of the founding editors and a current contributing editor. “I half expect some knight in shining armor to come racing along and save it at the last minute.”

Mirabella began in 1989 as the brainchild (and namesake) of former Vogue editor Grace Mirabella. The magazine changed hands several times, most recently when Rupert Murdoch sold it to Hachette in 1995. It had by then established a reputation as a smart women’s magazine, but seemed to struggle for an identity at Hachette while its sassier, sillier sister Elle (where I once worked) flourished.

“A lot of people have very, very strong emotions about that magazine,” says Medwick, who worked there under three different editors. (My wife was also there during one of those periods, under then-editor Dominique Browning.) “It was supposed to be the magazine that people would read who were irritated by other magazines. It was supposed to be smart. It was supposed to have articles that really said something, by writers you would really enjoy reading. And I think it was that, at various points.”

With a current circulation of 558,009 (according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations) and plummeting ad pages, Mirabella was being written off for several months; recently, staff members began resigning. The departures of creative director Sean Young and beauty and fashion editor Rachael Combe followed the exit of publisher Susan Blank earlier this year. As industry sources estimated the magazine had lost nearly $9 million last year, the publisher’s position remained unfilled.

Editor in chief Roberta Myers (who did not return calls seeking comment) has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Elle’s departing editor, Elaina Richardson. Richardson announced last week she will be leaving in the fall to become president of Yaddo, the artists community in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

“I felt like when Oprah’s magazine came out it was the last nail in the coffin,” said one Mirabella editor. “And that’s where all the advertisers would have gone.

“It’s just sad that a smart women’s magazine can’t find its place in the world.”

Sean Elder is a frequent contributor to Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>