Mar 2, 2015
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Publishing legend John Fairchild dies at age 87

Mar 2, 2015

John Fairchild, who headed his family's publishing business, Fairchild Publications Inc., for more than 30 years, including a long stint as the tyrannical editor in chief of WWD and founding chief of W magazine, passed away on 27 February 2015. He was 87.

When in 1960, upon the explicit request by his father, then president of the company, Fairfield took over command of the Parisian press office of WWD, the fashion industry in France was going through a period of transition: ready-to-wear didn't exist and couture was still at its height. Indeed, Courrèges and Yves Saint Laurent didn't open their salons until 1962.

John Fairchild, shown with covers of W magazine in 1976 - Fairchild Archive

From day one he hit the ground running. He fired the fashion editor at the time and set about giving the magazine a new life. He started focusing on anonymous designers, turning them into international legends, including such names as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Yves Saint Laurent.

WWD itself wrote in Fairchild’s obituary that he was "Fawned over and feared by an audience desperate for his approval but terrified and often resentful of his authority."

The longstanding editor-in-chief of WWD, Fairchild also founded W magazine, and his company comprised daily and weekly trade newspapers and magazines in industries ranging from fashion to electronics to metals.

Until the handover of the group to Condé Nast in 1997, the year that he left his office at Fairchild Publications, on his 70th birthday, he was the most influential man in fashion in the world and a fervent defender of French fashion.

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