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Harper’s Bazaar Launches French Edition

by News Desk

PARIS — Harper’s Bazaar is launching a print edition in France, with the premiere issue hitting newsstands on Thursday and featuring four covers shot by Mario Sorrenti.

Weighing in at 300 pages, the launch issue contains interviews with Lana Del Rey and Oscar-winning screenwriter Florian Zeller, as well as a sit-down between actress Golshifteh Farahani and philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Olivier Lalanne, former editor in chief of Vogue Homme and GQ France, is at the helm. Lalanne said the content is meant to reflect Bazaar’s literary tradition of writers including Truman Capote and Simone de Beauvoir. The magazine will not just be visual, but also have “substance” to mark it as a standout in the social media age, he contended.

The launch came together in just a few months after French media behemoth Vivendi’s Prisma Media signed a licensing deal with Hearst Magazines, with Lalanne joining at the beginning of October.

Vivendi moved quickly to take advantage of the ever-expanding luxury market as France’s biggest names such as Chanel, Hermès International and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton hit record revenue highs, Lalanne said.

Despite the dominance of social media — and bucking conventional wisdom — it’s a great moment for a print magazine, claimed Lalanne. The French edition of Harper’s Bazaar is launching with 100 pages of advertising, though he believes this will settle at about 50 to 60 pages per issue, with 10 issues a year, including special fashion editions in March and October.

“It’s proof of trust and confidence from the market and from the houses,” Lalanne told WWD. The moment also takes advantage of a renewed interest in print in France, as book sales increased 15 percent post-pandemic.

With the short three-month development period, Lalanne reached out to contributors and advertisers without a prototype — just a concept and a bit of nostalgia.

“There’s a real desire for a real fashion book, to collect the paper, feel the spine and flip through the pages. I’m really attached to it and I’m not the only one on Earth,” he said, noting people still have an attachment to physical objects.

“Everyone was telling me how much they miss a really good fashion magazine that they could tear the pages from. You can have Instagram on one side but this is closer to a book than a magazine. It is something you can keep,” he claimed, adding that he’s approaching the magazine as if he’s creating a book or art object.

Lalanne said the reader is likely to be upward of 30 to 35 years old — “she’s cultivated, informed and makes money,” he said — though he believes it will reach fashion students in the capital with its photography and art angles. “It’s like asking me if I was a chef, who do you want to cook for? I don’t think that way. We are doing something we believe in and we have a vision that’s complex and hopefully reaches a wider audience than what I could try to define,” he said.

The French edition is entirely independent from the U.S. magazine and will keep a culturally French focus, though Lalanne said he has access to the content if there’s star interview or photo shoot that would be relevant to the local reader. He said that independence is key to developing the Harper’s Bazaar brand in France.

The name is not well known here, he admitted. Lalanne took care in naming sections such as Bazaar Select and Bazaar Sphere to systematically drive home the branding. He’s aware of the challenges of launching in a crowded media market where competitors are also Instagram and TikTok. “We have big work to do to make the brand well known in the market, for sure.”

He won’t go ahead with splashy launch parties or other activations, he said. Instead, Lalanne sees the synergies with being owned by a major conglomerate such as Vivendi, which is also parent company to CanalPlus group, which itself owns cable channel CanalPlus as well as film and TV production and distribution company StudioCanal.

Lalanne envisions producing Bazaar-branded documentaries, for example. “We can find many ways to make this brand really shine in different fields,” he said.

Vivendi is putting all its media muscle behind it and sees the development as a long-term project. “They have put money behind it, and are very supportive for the launch and will be throughout the year. So for them it’s already a challenge, but they do understand that it’s good for them as well in terms of image to have a strong fashion magazine in their pocket,” Lalanne said.

The four covers feature looks by Burberry, Chanel, Valentino and South Korean label Rokh. “We are here as well to support young fashion designers,” he said. “It is not only going to be filled with advertisers. We are going to keep working with the big names, but I really want to push further with young designers, photographers, stylists, to create a kind of factory of fashion that I can work with in the long term that will be the big names of tomorrow.”

Harper’s Bazaar will hit the newsstands with 150,000 copies priced at 4.90 euros, and aims for circulation of 60,000 to 65,000 copies, with a third being subscriptions. That would put the magazine shy of Vogue’s French edition, which sold an average of 79,000 copies per issue last year, according to France’s media auditing body ACPM.

It’s Prisma’s first big launch since Vivendi acquired the publishing company from Germany’s Bertelsmann in 2021. Prisma has more than 20 titles in France, including celebrity-driven Gala and Voici.

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