Hamish Bowles enters the world of interiors
Hamish Bowles had a message for longtime readers of The World of Interiors. “I didn’t come into this legendary title to wreak self-centered havoc,” he said, speaking by phone last week from the publication’s London offices.
Last fall, Mr. Bowles was named editor of the beloved decorating magazine, and this month the first issue under his editorship hits newsstands.
After 30 years at Vogue, as international editor, writer and editor of the short-lived spin-off Vogue Living, as well as Anna Wintour’s consummate dinner companion, Mr Bowles finally has his own magazine at to manage.
The moment brings with it a heartbreak for the title’s 55,000 print subscribers, many of whom appreciate how The World of Interiors has resisted change.
Mr. Bowles is only the third publisher in its 41-year history. And in a world of print greatly diminished by the brutal web economy, The World of Interiors remains a magnificent physical object: printed on creamy 100 gram paper, beautifully photographed and designed, offering an editorial mix that has retained its eclecticism, his spirit and attention to every word.
“Will the world of interiors have a gut renovation under Hamish Bowles?” The New York magazine asked after Condé Nast, which publishes the magazine, named him last fall.
Perhaps that’s why, in his first letter from the editor and here in his first interview since taking office, Mr. Bowles struck a reassuring tone.
Longtime fans of the magazine will find “a spirit of continuity and consistency,” he said, “but maybe a few surprises, which is inevitable, because I’m not Min and I’m not Rupert. “.
Min Hogg, the founding editor, created the magazine’s bohemian, old-world look, as well as its Catholic (“everything from palaces to pigsties”) approach. Rupert Thomas was his protege and edited the magazine for the past 22 years with intelligence, ingenuity and a monastic devotion to the production of each issue. He skipped the party circuit and stayed off social media.
Mr. Bowles, 58, on the other hand, comes with the kind of stardom and big personality that was once common among magazine editors, particularly at Condé Nast. A staple of the international social and fashion scenes – and best-dressed lists – the foppish Mr. Bowles hosted a exposure on Jackie Kennedy’s years in the White House for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and escorted Sarah Jessica Parker to the Met Gala.
When he turned 50 in 2013, he threw himself four nights out on two continents, including a dinner party in New York hosted by Ms Wintour at which he wore a bespoke three-piece suit in sherbet pink by Ralph Lauren.
For proof of Mr Bowles’ stature as a famous style man, look no further than three of his apartments have been featured in The World of Interiors, including a duplex in Manhattan designed by the firm Studio Peregalliwho graced the cover of the November 2014 issue.
As to how he came to be appointed editor, Mr Bowles said the story is quite simple: Ms Wintour asked him.
“Only an editor with Hamish’s knowledge of the history of design, art, architecture and fashion could run World of Interiors,” Ms Wintour said in an email.
Since becoming Condé Nast’s director of global content in 2020, in addition to editing Vogue, Ms. Wintour has focused on the company’s digital and international future. This is clearly his memoir for Mr. Bowles. “We all look forward to him bringing his verve and attitude to WOI’s social channels and digital projects,” she said.
At Vogue, Mr. Bowles has been up for trying new forms of storytelling. He starred in a video series, ‘Vintage Bowles’, which had him shopping all over the world for clothes, and Ms. Wintour cast him in short clips that replicate his dandy image to effect comic, like the one in which he shoot hoops with Amar’e Stoudemire. (Ms. Wintour called it “a natural on video.”) More recently, Mr. Bowles hosted the podcast “In vogue: the 1990s.”
Now, like every other magazine publisher, it needs to attract TikTok’s young digital consumers and create an overarching strategy that goes beyond a Instagram account or occasional music video.
Mr. Bowles wasn’t so specific about how he would create The World of Interiors 3.0, saying only, “We’re in the very early stages,” and promising that digital content will roll out robustly in the fall.
But already, the bare-bones website has had a facelift. The magazine is also launching a weekly email newsletter this month.
“I could see podcasts with magazine mainstays and interesting voices from the world of culture and design,” he added, “and videos as a way to amplify the imprinted images of an environment. “
As incoming editors do, Mr. Bowles has also made several new recruits, among them Gianluca Longoformerly of W magazine, as style director; Benjamin Kempton, a Wallpaper veteran, as decoration editor; Elly Parson, another Wallpaper alum, as digital director; and Mitchell Owens as US-based editor, replacing the role held by Carol Prisant, who died last year.
If the April issue is any indication, readers need not worry that Mr. Bowles is spoiling it. The Mix of Stories, which includes articles on 1960s tropical modernism in Lagos; a fashion designer’s townhouse in Bloomsbury; a magnificent Genoese palace lovingly restored; and a pictorial celebrating wild garlic – is more eclectic and sumptuous than ever.
A New Age compound that Italian-American filmmaker Tao Ruspoli created in California’s Yucca Valley has a youthful energy to both subject matter and photos, while the Lagos piece, shot by the Nigerian photographer Amanda Iheme and written by Kojo Abuducritic and curator, is part of Mr Bowles’ desire to bring “global visions and voices”, as he put it in his editor’s letter, to a magazine whose focus can often be Eurocentric.
After three decades of flying around the world for Condé Nast and producing numerous home stories for Vogue, Mr. Bowles has an impressive network of photographers and designers to call on, and a mental list of homes. interesting that he could one day present. Many of the stories in her first issue came on the recommendation of her friends.
Mr. Bowles will continue in his role as global editor of Vogue. Still, he said, the very specific world of Vogue and its celebrity-socialite topics are quite different from his new title.
“At The World of Interiors, suddenly it’s the world interiors,” Bowles said. “This extraordinary breadth of topics and material is open. It’s DNA. You turn a page – or click a mouse – and you’re in a whole different world.