When I was in college and spending my summers working at Vogue Magazine, I remember the then assistant to the Travel Editor, Richard Alleman, telling me that the longer you stay in a place, the harder it is to write about it. I have come to believe that this is also true about a person. The longer you know them, the harder it is to write about them… much less post a quick blog about them. This is the challenge I knew I faced before I even walked into Jade Hobson’s house last week — Jade, the woman whose name was not only the coolest one I had ever heard, but whose whole presence exuded cool in my eyes… me, a college freshman who had spent the last fifteen years of my life devouring the pages of Italian Vogue, Paris Vogue, and American Vogue, found myself suddenly working side by side with Jade who was the Accessories Editor at American Vogue ( and who notably rarely wore a stitch of jewelry). No matter what hellish battle was being waged in the hallways and bathrooms on that famed 13th floor of the Conde Nast Building, Jade remained a study of elegant calm, and was thus a beloved mentor of mine.
Fast-forward all these years and all these careers… My sister-in-law passes along an article she saw in the local paper about Jade and her landscape design business. But, by the time Jade and I actually manage to get together, she has been plucked from the soil (and her NYC rooftop garden clients) and whisked away into the rarefied air of the fashion world, again. As it turns out, Jade had been tapped for her keen stylistic eye by the new guard at Town & Country who needed her help to execute the magazine’s new look.
So there I was sitting in her fab house, filled with great art, photos I love, chic furnishings… situated on what was once a dairy farm with a still extant cement silo and wonderful long cow barn. I have to ask what she thinks about going back into the fashion business.
JH: Oh, I just love it.
KR: Don’t you think it’s pretty interesting that fashion is relying heavily on editors of your vintage? … Including women like Tonne Goodman and Grace Coddington.
JH: Well, you know we really had training.
(She’s not kidding about this…. assistants to sittings editors were assistants years before they were allowed to even voice their suggestions on a set. Sittings editors — the name for those who styled a photo shoot for the magazine — are the artistic directors of the shot and are responsible for the look and feel of what would then get delivered to the editor-in-chief for consideration for inclusion in the final pages of the magazine. As one of those assistants I remember the photographer deciding that the shot wasn’t working and should be shot as though a party was going on. The editor agreed and I was given a huge list of props to buy. When I got back to the studio laden with photo-perfect fruit, champagne, pastries, plates and stem wear, they had already decided that the original idea was actually working and there would be no party.)
KR: Jade, when did you leave Vogue and where did you go?
JH: I left August 1988 when Grace Mirabella was fired. I was offered several jobs … at Ralph Lauren, Bergdorf Goodman and Revlon. I took the job at Revlon which was VP Creative Director because I really liked Bob Nielsen (president and chairman of Revlon’s fashion and designer group) — he had a great vision for marketing the Revlon lines. I was in charge of an art department of fifty people and had to learn all the industry basics… like what a sku (stock keeping unit) was. Fortunately, after less than a year there, Rupert Murdoch asked Grace (Mirabella) if she wanted to start a magazine.
KR: I remember when that happened and thinking what an amazing opportunity that was for her. Did she bring a lot of Vogue staffers back on for Mirabella?
JH: Not really, there were just three of us at first for the entire staff. It was Amy Gross, Grace and me.
(Wow, this is incredible to think when I remembered how many people were in staff at Vogue… there were two floors of us!)
KR: How long did you stay at Mirabella?
JH: I left there in 1994 and went to New York Magazine as the Fashion Director.
(Just then Jade gets a call from Brigitte Lacombe, the fashion photographer, wanting to go over details regarding the upcoming cover shoot of Debra Messing for Ladies Home Journal).
KR: So you’re not just working for Town & Country now?
JH: No, in fact, I just finished shooting an advertising video for Joe Fresh, the Canadian clothing company, that’s opening their flagship store in New York.
(She handed me a copy of the latest Ladies Home Journal that Brigitte had shot the cover for… Truly, this is not your super market variety of LHJ)
KR: What a great project! Jade, I know you just covered Fall Fashion Week for Town & Country. How is it being back at the shows?
JH: I went to about 20 shows. They are huge now! Everyone has a camera… and everyone is taking pictures of each other!
I leave her house hours later, feeling so grateful to know her.. this chic woman who has always been the beauty behind the photo, that could easily have been the beauty in the photo.