People: Former 'Cosmo' editor takes on new age challenge

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Marcelle d'Argy-Smith, the woman whose Franco-hyphenated name, all-year tan and declarations like "when in doubt buy shoes", made her the archetypal glossy magazine editor at Cosmopolitan, has resurfaced to take charge of the more sedate Woman's Journal.

Ms Smith, 50, left Cosmo in a blaze of publicity in 1995 after a "mutual agreement" with Terry Mansfield, the managing director of Cosmopolitan publisher NatMags. Industry rumours suggested that Mr Mansfield wished to spice up the magazine to see off the threat from rival Marie Claire. Ms Smith said they had had "wonderful moments and terrible half hours" together.

Where Cosmopolitan concentrates on sex and relationships, Woman's Journal - published by IPC Magazines, the publisher of Marie Claire - is aimed at what it describes as the "no-age woman". In reality this means women aged 35 to 55 who have probably already sorted out their relationships.

Woman's Journal is more interested in the search for clothes that fit the fuller figure than the search for the perfect orgasm, but that may be about to change: "It's a magazine for the grown-up woman, and she interests me enormously," said Ms Smith yesterday.

"I now have the fabulous chance to draw in these women, talk to them ... turn them on ... After all they're most of my best friends."

When she left Cosmo she informed the world that the telephone had not stopped ringing and the bouquets of flowers had not stopped arriving. Since then, however, she has been working as a freelance journalist writing about "downshifting" your career and appearing in diary columns. She also worked as a presenter on satellite television and host of Down Your Way on BBC Radio 4.

IPC described Ms Smith yesterday as a legend in women's magazines. The previous editor, Deirdre Vine, has left to spend more time with her family, according to a company spokeswoman.