As the top creative mind of what remains one of America’s most important fashion magazines, Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers lives a fairly glamorous life.
But Myers is no Miranda Priestly, who you probably remember as the terrifying editor character played by Meryl Streep in the 2006 movie “The Devil Wears Prada.” Myers is instead a soft-spoken and kind leader who prefers to stay out of the spotlight and instead focus on honing her craft.
Myers recently brought Business Insider along on a typical day in her work life. Though no two days are alike for this busy editor, what follows is a peek into her fascinating world.
Myers often starts her day at TurnStyle, the new shopping center located underneath Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan. She'll typically grab a coffee or juice before heading up to Elle's offices.
Some days she'll also grab a box of bite-size treats from Doughnuttery. The doughnuts are made-to-order, and you can get two different flavours per half-dozen. Myers, however, says she gets the cinnamon sugar doughnuts every time. 'I'm a purist,' she joked.
Elle's headquarters are on the 24th floor of the Hearst Tower. The offices are sleek and, on this day, noticeably quiet, probably due to the fact that the editorial staff had closed the magazine's September issue just a few days before our visit. Myers said that the calm was highly unusual. 'I say that this is the only place where you can get aerobic exercise just in your office,' she said.
Myers has been the editor-in-chief at Elle since 2000. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in political science, she started her career at Rolling Stone before moving on to roles at Interview, InStyle, Seventeen, and Mirabella. It was at Seventeen, where she moved up the ranks to managing editor, that she got her first taste of what it meant to be a higher-level boss.
'Once you enter management, you're putting out fires all day long,' she said. 'And they're not really all fires -- some of them are campfires, and you're putting out the fire because you like them. Management is really analysing and making decisions all day long. It's actually endless.'
While at Interview, she worked closely with Andy Warhol. That formative experience helped her understand the importance of beautiful visuals to complement quality writing. 'I learned early on that you have to value both equally, and you have to understand both equally,' she said. 'At this level, if you don't value both equally, you can't make a really outstanding product.'
On the day we shadowed Myers, she started the morning with a meeting with Elle Associate Publisher Liz Hodges. She'll often spend much of her day in meetings, and reserves her serious reading time for when she's at home in the evening.
Throughout her time at Elle, she has helped to define what it means to be a women's magazine in the modern age. 'I think what people really appreciate about Elle is that we bring the rigors of reporting and thorough literary journalism and good writing to a category that people don't expect,' she said. 'Which is too bad really, because anyone who works at a fashion magazine -- they're all professional and smart and are as up on culture as anybody else.'
Next up: lunch at the Midtown power meal favourite Michael's. Myers was hosting a lunch event as part of Elle Agenda, the magazine's initiative to bring together successful women over a productive conversation about the biggest issues they face today.
Casual conversations began as guests slowly made their way inside. 'The core idea was to bring women at high levels in their work, in their careers, in their professions, and cross-pollinate them,' Myers said.
Here, Myers poses with actor and entrepreneur Tavi Gevinson and Emma Cline, author of the New York Times best-selling novel 'The Girls.' 'We were doing all of these things on women in tech, on women in TV both behind and in front of the camera, women in art -- there's a reason they're so accomplished, but their network and their resources are totally separate from one another,' Myers said.
The event -- inspired by the 'ladies who lunch' archetype that was born in the '70s -- called for a special menu from Michael's. The women were seated at the restaurant's most visible table, a large, round spot right in front of the window. Myers plans to host a similar lunch once a month from now on, each one with a different guest list packed with influential women.
'They may know each other socially, or they may not even know each other socially, but when you come together to tackle an idea, you can draw some very high-level resources,' she said. 'It's good for us as a magazine to say we get behind this idea, and to publicize it through our audience.' On their way out, many of the attendees asked each other for their email addresses so they could continue the conversation.
After lunch, it was back to Elle's offices. Myers' assistant, Dajoin Davenport, helps her stay on track for the day. As we walk through the office, Myers compliments her coworkers and interns on their outfits, inquiring time and time again: 'Who makes that?'
Then it's on to the run-throughs for the October cover shoot with Samira Nasr, Elle's fashion director. Myers must approve all of the looks to be photographed on each of the three cover stars for the magazine's annual 'Women in Hollywood' issue.
The fashion team spends hours perfecting each look, taking into account each individual star's personal style and preferences. Elle's fashion closet is full of all of the latest looks from designers' runway shows. The stylists then pick from those pieces the styles that will be photographed for each shoot. Personal style is of special importance to Elle, and the celebrities do have some say in the clothing that they will ultimately be photographed in.
One section of the closet is reserved exclusively for the glamorous jewellery used in the magazine's fashion shoots. According to the stickers next to each piece, some jewels had a wholesale value of many thousands of dollars.
Myers admired the pieces as the accessories team showed her what they had selected. 'Gotta send my kids to college first,' she said with a laugh.
Myers' job has changed quite a bit in the more than 15 years she's helmed the magazine. 'What's happening right now is that fashion, like media, is going through a massive sea change. So with a change in media and a change in fashion together, you have a whole lot of change. But that's just a fun challenge for an editor,' she said.
The main change Myers is referring to is one that has rocked the fashion world over the past year. Typically fashion designers will show their latest collection several months before it would be available in stores. But with the rise of image-heavy social platforms like Instagram, some fashion houses have chosen to adjust their schedule in favour of a 'see now, buy now' model.
Other designers that have chosen not to make their production schedule shorter risk having their designs copied by fast-fashion retailers and seeming less exciting to consumers.
'With the advent of smartphones and the digital age, what happens is ... everyone can see it the day of the show. Those images are out there,' she said. 'It makes our job as interpreters of fashion that much more interesting, because the eye gets tired.'
She added: 'The way people absorb culture is completely different. We still have a finite number of pages, but what we do with those pages has certainly evolved.' Though Myers' work is completely different from the writing done on Elle.com, she can boast that Elle was the first fashion magazine to have a web site and the first to have an app.
Myers doesn't go to a lot of events -- she instead prefers to get home by 8 p.m. so that she can spend some time with her kids -- but making appearances is a part of the job. Here, she speaks with Anthony Ledru, president and CEO of Louis Vuitton Americas, during a launch event for the fashion house's new fragrance.
Before we leave, she doles out some of her best career advice. 'You should not be trying to get the big job, you should be trying to get the next job. You should be getting good at what you're doing. If you spend years frustrated that your talents are not being put to good use, that's kind of on you. You should figure out how to put them to good use in your current position,' she said. 'And just get everyone's phone number, because as you go through your life, you'll think of a reason to call them up.'
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