Your Life your connection to The Boston Globe

Magazine marks 10 years of being InStyle

NEW YORK -- The world is a beautiful place when everything is seen through the lens of celebrity, and that's the world that InStyle magazine has brought to its readers every month for the past 10 years.

When InStyle launched, supermodels ruled the fashion magazines and Martians the supermarket tabloids. But with a current circulation of 1.7 million, the magazine that featured Barbra Streisand on its first cover helped fuel the celebrity craze if not copycat publications.

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. So, I'm flattered, thank you very much. Everyone is going to respond to a great idea ... but sometimes I'll say, `Oh God, not another one,"' says Charla Lawhon, InStyle's managing editor.

In some ways InStyle is a victim of its own success: Lawhon says it's become much more difficult to secure stars for features and to get invited into their homes.

"The fashion magazines used to say, `We won't use celebrities,' but now fashion magazines have celebrities on the cover 12 out of 12 magazines a year," Lawhon says.

While InStyle enjoyed steady growth in the first few years, its breakout really came in September 1999, according to Lawhon.

"That's when advertisers saw directly relatable results. It could be a martini glass to shoes to a fabulous gown; we made it easy for readers to buy. We'd tell them how to wear something and how to use it without talking down to them," she says. "We're the original shopping magazine."

At first InStyle was supposed to be an equal blend of celebrity, beauty, fashion and lifestyle coverage, but in recent years fashion and celebrity certainly have gotten more attention and those entries dominate the "Elements of Style" feature in June's special anniversary issue.

The A ("Absolutely Fabulous") to Z (Catherine Zeta-Jones) list chronicles what's been "in style" over the past decade. Among the highlights:

--Aniston, Jennifer. Stylishly sexy Friend and leading Tonsorial Hall of Fame candidate whose "Rachel" cut is tied with "the Farrah" as the most requested hairstyle of all time.

--Boy shorts. Woman's retro undergarment smacking more of Fruit of the Loom than Frederick's of Hollywood.

--Designer Denim. Couture-style overhaul of jeans, replacing rugged designs with well-tailored, often low-slung creations with price tags over $200.

--Gapification. Embracing of khakis, T-shirts and jeans as fashion statement.

--Nicole Kidman. Curlicued Australian Oscar winner who has ruled the red carpet since her 1997 Oscars appearance in Christian Dior Couture.

--Shoes. Human foot covering usually made of leather or rubber, of varying heel size and sole thickness, and capable of eliciting deep passion that's said to be better than sex for many women.

Lawhon says she's pleased and proud of the magazine's ability to spot -- and maybe start -- trends. She cites the 1998 "discovery" of ionic hair tools, which she says has since "changed the lives of million of women," and the August 2002 prediction that the Louis Vuitton-Stephen Sprouse graffiti bag and Tom Ford's Yves Saint Laurent Mombassa bag would become collector's items.

Charlize Theron, fresh off her Oscar win for best actress earlier this year, was selected as the cover model for the anniversary issue because "she sums up the next wave."

Occasionally, though, InStyle has been wrong, which Lawhon says is always a risk when you're predicting what will be hot and happening five months in advance.

"In fall 2002, we featured white for winter. I bought into it. No one else did," she says with a laugh. 

Charlize Theron is the cover girl for the June issue of InStyle, which celebrates the magazine's 10th anniversary. (AP Photo)
Globe Archives
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months