Linda Wells is having a damn good September 2016 — especially when you consider the fact that the month hasn't officially started yet. It's been less than a year since Wells, Allure's founding editor and editor-in-chief for 24 years, was dethroned by the Condé Nast powers that be last November. In the fairly brief amount of time since, she's kept busy with a slew of impressive projects.
First, New York Magazine's The Cut tapped her as beauty editor-at-large, granting her a digital platform to write about pretty much whatever she wants to cover in a regular column. (In my opinion, it's been consistently enlightening and delightful to read.) Then there are the September issues: Hearst announced back in March that it had brought Wells on to produce a special 16-page beauty spread for the month, running in four separate titles — similar to Carine Roitfeld's "Icons" fashion portfolio, which appears inside every international edition of Harper's Bazaar — and that's sponsored by Estée Lauder. Plus, Wells penned a profile of makeup artist/fellow beauty goddess Pat McGrath for New York that made my eyes well up as I read it on the subway. (More on both of those in a moment.) In short, Linda Wells is absolutely killing it this fall.
Allow me to briefly interject here to disclose that I'm not without bias in this determination. I'm 1) a beauty editor, who 2) got my start at Allure, working under Wells for the better part of my four years there, who 3) grew up reading/worshiping her work and 4) only came to respect her more after seeing her in action. Without Wells, my personal career — not to mention, I'd argue, the entire scope of the beauty industry as we know it today — would be completely different. (By which I mean much, much worse.) Linda served as a mentor to my mentors, an inspiration to my inspirations. So, yes, I'm more than a bit biased here.
But let's get back to Wells's work in these September issues. Her New York profile of McGrath is comprehensive and well-crafted, shining a much needed light on the artist's personal history and how she's woven her magical makeup powers into a fascinating career of jaw-dropping work. The story reflects just how deep Wells's industry connections run; she interviews former Allure Creative Director Paul Cavaco, Grace Coddington and Edward Enninful. It's worth a read, even if you don't care much about the beauty industry and wouldn't know a Pat McGrath Labs product if it slapped you in the face with its sequins.
Wells's Hearst project, "The Linda Wells Report," is major in its own way, largely because the entire concept is unprecedented. It's a 16-page beauty section highlighting Wells's current favorite beauty products, running in subscriber issues across multiple titles (Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire and Town & Country). In it, Wells explores the concept of what luxury beauty means today, using mainly (though not exclusively) Estée Lauder-owned makeup, fragrance and skin-care brands; the company is the sole advertising partner for these pages. The report also features beauty shots styled by Cavaco and photographed by Carter Smith.
"Linda is a force in the beauty world, and her funny, engaging and always personal perspective and voice draw you in immediately," said Thia Breen, North America president of The Estée Lauder Companies, in a statement. She also likened the project to "a wonderful reunion with a dear friend," going on to say that she's "thrilled for the opportunity to reach readers who are as passionate about beauty as we are." Hearst has also announced plans to "extend the reach" of The Linda Wells Report as the season continues and roll out digital elements, including a video with Wells, in October.
Like I said: Linda Wells's September 2016 is going great so far. Maybe even as great as Kendall Jenner's.