Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Comeback That Wasn’t:

In the boom years, Stewart’s ­extravagances could reasonably be seen as the cost of doing business. But with MSLO losing money, the clash between business imperatives and Stewart’s perfectionist aesthetic became increasingly problematic. “The entire workday would come to a halt so we could discuss the virtues of sea-foam green over more of a blue-green, and would take literally 30 minutes,” remembers an editor. “Susan [Lyne] would say, ‘I’m sure you guys can make this decision.’” Despite the cash crunch, Stewart would not hesitate to send staff members to, say, India, to obtain a certain piece of fabric. The company kept three separate test kitchens. Stewart herself retained “nine personal assistants,” says a former executive. “Nine. That number is untouchable. I broached it with her, and I almost lost my job that day.” (A source close to the company calls the number “highly exaggerated.”)