A Bazaar royal success

'Harpers & Queen' was once an upper-crust bastion, but a year on and shorn of its Sloanes, 'Bazaar' is paying off. Matthew Bell reports

It's been a year since Lucy Yeomans finally killed the Queen from the Harpers masthead, and renamed the magazine Harper's Bazaar. The radical move was the final stage of a transformation which began when Yeomans became editor, aged only 29, in 2000. Initially management at The National Magazine Company, which publishes the title, were resistant to meddling with the brand, but recent circulation figures show Yeomans' vision – for a big, glossy, upmarket features and fashion-orientated magazine – is paying off.

When Yeomans joined – she was poached from Vogue on her first day – Harpers was a hangover from the Sloane days of the Eighties, chronicling the lives, parties and trends of the upper classes. "Harpers & Queen, as it then was, was more like Tatler," she says. "It was quite exclusive in its readership and was aimed at a smaller audience. What's fantastic is that it's now come into the mainstream, as you can see by the fact beauty brands use us to, say, endorse their mascara on television."

Ditching the aristocracy in favour of cosmetics companies was "nothing personal", but as Yeomans talks it is clear she is a strong believer in meritocracy. "I love people who are achieving things", she enthuses, "whether it's in music, fashion, the arts, whatever." Tomorrow, Yeomans will be handing out the gongs at her magazine's Woman of the Year awards, formerly the Businesswoman of the Year Awards. "We've got some big names coming, but there will also be one or two women the readers may not necessarily have heard of."

When Yeomans first purged Bazaar of the nobs and multi-barrelled names it was not immediately apparent who would replace them. In a market saturated with women's glossies, there was a danger the title could lose its identity. But Yeomans has no regrets. "The move away from the society tag has freed us up to do much more, and we can now bring in all sorts of exciting different things. I don't think there's room for snobbery any more, do you?"

The current issue is peppered with names from fashion, design, music and art, including Alexander McQueen, Sophie Dahl, Rosamund Pike, Sir Peter Blake, Lily Cole, and The Kills, but intriguingly also features an interview with the Duchess of Devonshire. Are the toffs creeping back in? "The beauty of it is we now don't have to worry about who we're featuring. When it first changed we would think, Oh God, we can't do this or that because people will think it's a bit old-society for the modern woman. But now we can feature Debo Devonshire for what she has achieved, not just because of who she is. She's an amazing character. It's all about the mix – it's like one big party where you might see a Rolling Stone next to the Duchess of Devonshire."

And the party is going strong. Circulation has risen steadily – the latest ABC figures show a 3.1 per cent year-on-year increase to 109,146. This is more than Tatler, which shifts about 90,000 copies per month, but still much less than most women's glossies such as Cosmopolitan – 470,735; or Glamour – 551,351; or Vogue, which Yeomans now sees as her nearest competition, which has a circulation of 221,090.

"It's Vogue we find ourselves going up against. But we are not trying to be Vogue. I think Vogue has a duty to be the fashion bible, probably more slavishly following the catwalks. The great thing about Bazaar is that we can edit the trends – our readers are not going to go out and buy lime green pop socks and silver hot pants because it's the fashion. Actually what they'll do is go and buy, say, a beautiful Lanvin dress."

But with so many other monthly women's glossies crammed on the shelves, what does Harper's offer that is unique? "I suppose it's our features. We're not just about fashion, although we have beefed up our fashion coverage a lot." So it's Vogue with more brains – isn't that what Vanity Fair does? "There's an element of Vanity Fair. We're not commissioning 10,000-word features, although we do sometimes have a 5,000-word feature. If something is relevant to us we'll do it. For example, we've got a piece coming up about marriage, but by Germaine Greer. And Russell Brand has done a shoot in which he's the Big Bad Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood .... It's about unexpected collaborations."

Yeomans' enthusiasm for "mixing it up" is convincing. "I like the people we write about to also write for us." Hence shoe designer Manolo Blahnik is the unlikely film critic.

"Graydon [Carter] says [his] Vanity Fair is a society magazine in that it's about the people who shape society. Bazaar is also about society, but now it's with a small 's'." Yeomans' references in conversation to Manolo or Graydon are revealing – she is a formidable networker with an impressive contacts book. The magazine's party section regularly features snaps of Yeomans herself – in the September issue she is with Mary McCartney on one page, with designer Matthew Williamson on another. "I'm lucky that I meet all these wonderful people through my work," she says, blushing slightly.

One of her people-of-the-moment is Samantha Cameron. "I think Samantha is amazing. For me, Sam is an absolute Bazaar woman. She's got a kind of independence to her that a lot of the 'First Ladies' perhaps don't. There she is being incredibly supportive with her husband but she's also got a very important job in her own right. She very much knows her own mind, she's interesting and funny. She's charming and has a great character. That's what I love."

Yeomans is equally impressed by David Cameron's transformation of the Conservative Party. "It's been an extraordinary marketing achievement.... Cameron's been clever, playing a quiet game. I've met him, and I think he's very charismatic .... But the duty of the magazine is not to tie itself to any political party but to get a sense of what's happening in society. And that's what we're doing."

There is a sense that Yeomans would like to feature more politics in her magazine, and she says she is excited to be "doing something" with Boris Johnson soon, whom she "loves". But the bulk of British politicians are simply too dull for Bazaar: "We get a bit jealous of American Vanity Fair because there are all these fabulous colourful characters in US politics and not all of them translate British-wise into the pages of Bazaar."

After eight years of change, does Yeomans finally feel happy with the product? "Yes, but I believe magazines need to work a lot harder. There are some design changes coming up in the spring." Bazaar's sister magazine Cosmopolitan enjoyed a boost in sales five years ago when it launched a handbag-size edition, but Yeomans rejects the idea for Bazaar. "No, if anything I'd like a bigger version – it's such a luxurious magazine that we need the big spaces for the images."

After an hour of listening to Yeomans enthuse about Bazaar, it is convincing to hear her declare she "lives and breathes" the magazine. She plays down the suggestion it is time for her to move on to new pastures. But, aged only 37, she has a long future ahead. Does she have an eye on a bigger prize, perhaps following in the footsteps of the godmother of magazine editors, Tina Brown, and crossing the Atlantic? "I don't rule out going to America," she says coyly. "It all depends on where you are at what time of life, and what's going on in your life personally."

Yeomans is unmarried, but has a long-term boyfriend. When we meet she has just returned from a holiday in Ibiza with a group of friends, and admits she can't believe her luck. "Ibiza is where I used to go in my twenties, but this time we were in this amazing villa."

At times Yeomans' exuberance is overwhelming, but her enthusiasm for her work leaves one in no doubt. "Sometimes ... I just can't believe the things I do. The great thing is it doesn't get boring because people and life don't get boring."

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it