Courtesy of Hearst Corporation


Carol Smith

Written by Saul Taylor

A high profile collaboration between Carine Roitfeld and Harper’s Bazaar, ICONS is an ambitious look at the visionaries of today. Publisher Carol Smith sets the precedent.

How did the annual Harper’s Bazaar ICONS event first come about?

In 2012, Carine Roitfeld joined forces with Harper’s BAZAAR as its Global Fashion Director. Two years later, ICONS by Carine Roitfeld was born. The inaugural, multi-platform franchise celebrated Carine’s most influential muses in fashion, music, and culture with a 17-page editorial portfolio in all international editions of Harper’s BAZAAR. The portfolio came to life at cocktail party—featuring a live jazz performance by cover star and ICON Lady Gaga—to kick off New York Fashion Week. ICONS is now a mainstay at NYFW, signaling the start of fashion month around the globe. Past ICONS and headliner performers include Katy Perry, Kanye West, The Weeknd, Christina Aguilera, and most recently Alicia Keys. The portfolio has also been shot by famed photographers—and icons in their own right—ranging from the late Karl Lagerfeld, to Jean-Paul Goude, and Mario Sorrenti.

Every year it seems more relevant, what makes ICONS so special?

The definition of an ICON continues to evolve, which keeps the portfolio fresh from year to year. The iconic men and women featured in this year’s portfolio – from Alicia Keys to Christy Turlington and Awkwafina to Lakeith Stanfield – embody the essence of being an independent – they’ve challenged the norm, defied expectations, broken boundaries, and re-written the rules – personally, professionally, politically, creatively, in life and around the world. Never has this spirit been more relevant as it is today.

What form does the event take?

The event has grown from a small celebratory cocktail reception to the biggest party at NYFW with one of the most sought-out guest lists. It’s a celebration of fashion and its permeation into all aspects of culture.

Tell us about the preparations and planning process. How does it work?

Planning is a year-long process. BAZAAR has a dedicated team managing the platform, an event-production company and an events PR team that all collaborate with Carine and the CR Fashion Book team to produce the portfolio and party.

What role does Carine Roitfeld play?

Carine is the visionary and architect of ICONS. She brings together the best talent in the industry to create unforgettable portfolios that transcend boarders, ethnicities, genders, and language.

What makes a true icon?

True icons set precedents. In all that they do, icons shift perceptions by resisting the established, avoiding the accepted, and breaking every rule they can. Carine Roitfeld puts it this way: “To me there is nothing more iconic than being singular – no one before you or after… and no copycats because they would not know where to start.”

What is it about Harper’s BAZAAR that gives the event such credibility?

Harper’s BAZAAR has always soared on the visions of legendary editors, photographers, and stylists. The 152-year-old brand continues to be one of the most powerful and influential fashion publications in the world with over 29 editions translated in 21 languages. What began as America’s first fashion magazine is a now a leading multi-media fashion company, and so much more.

How important are events to the mechanics of your business?

Events are becoming increasingly important to our marketing mix. They allow us to be more creative about how we reach our audiences, giving us a platform to forge an emotional connection with the consumer that extends beyond the printed page. BAZAAR plans to continue to build the event arm of our business with both industry-focused and consumer-facing event experiences in the coming years.

How have events evolved since you have been working in the industry?

Long gone are the days of throwing logos on a step and repeat and calling it a day. Events have become much more bespoke and are used as a way to tell multi-sensory stories, create entertaining content, and make meaningful connections.

You must have been to your fair share of incredible events. What have been the most memorable and why?

In 2017, in honor of our 150th anniversary, Harper’s BAZAAR projected the magazine’s most iconic photographs onto the Empire State Building, flooding New York City with stunning archival images of our covers and editorials. The retrospective was in partnership with Obscura Digital – a creative technology studio – and spanned 42 stories of the building’s facade. To celebrate, we threw a VIP viewing party at Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room, giving guests front-row access to watch the show. It was truly epic and unforgettable!

What makes a great event?

A great event creates a feeling of anticipation and delivers on its promise. It transports guests to another world and engages them to participate in the moment. We want our events to stay with people after they’ve ended, sparking the question: Did you see what BAZAAR did?