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Linda Wells on Making the Leap From Editorial to Working For Revlon

The veteran beauty editor discusses why she's switching to the brand side of things — and why now is a particularly transformative time for the company.
Linda Wells. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Linda Wells. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Linda Wells, the founding editor of Allure magazine who spent 25 years at Condé Nast before departing in November of 2015, is embarking on a new chapter of her career. Starting Monday, after decades spent as a beauty writer and editor, she'll make the leap to the branded side of things as Revlon's new chief creative officer. Since parting ways with Condé Nast, Wells has spent the past year immersing herself in a variety of industry projects: in addition to penning a beauty column for New York Magazine's The Cut, she also oversaw two beauty packages for Hearst's print publications, which appeared in multiple brands' September 2016 and March 2017 issues.

Wells took a break from a hiking and yoga retreat in California — where she's taking some time to rest up (which for her seems to involve engaging in extreme physical activity) before her first official day with Revlon — to chat about her new role over the phone. 

What can you tell me about what your new role will entail?
My role will be to oversee all of the visual expression of the brands. So I'll work with the creative directors and presidents of each brand and make sure that in every aspect, we're expressing beauty and making it completely desirable.

Do you have any ideas of what that will look like? Any immediate plans you want to implement?
I've got a ton of ideas, but I think the most important thing is to get there and see what they're doing [first]. In a funny way, doing it from afar is like a fantasy and lots of fun, but it's so different than being in a place and knowing what they have going on and learning everything.

How do you think you'll navigate making the jump from the editorial side of things to working for a brand?
It sounds to me like an enormous amount of fun and learning a whole new set of skills. I've worked so much on the outside of the cosmetics industry looking in and reporting on it; I think it will be so much fun to really apply all those decades of knowledge to actual products, marketing and advertising. I think it's going to be such a rewarding experience. Over the many years in my career, I've been asked by most of the major companies to talk about advertising, to analyze the advertising and the packaging, to give speeches and advice on new product areas. I've done it in the cosmetics industry and in the retail area of cosmetics specifically, so I think it's going to be exciting to actually be able to participate in producing these things and making them come to life.

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What are you most excited about?
I'm not able to talk about them, but there are just some really cool things coming up for the Revlon brand, the Arden brand — and I'm excited about Prevage, too. I think Prevage is one of the best antioxidants and one of the best antiagers, so I can't wait to see what can happen to turbo-charge that a little bit. [Elizabeth Arden Ceramides] have been around for a long time, but they're really good products, and dermatologists always talk about them. I think that's a gem that could be magnified. I've used Revlon mascaras and eyeliners and lipstick — even if my lipstick is usually invisible — so they're my staples.

What made you choose Revlon as the company you wanted to make this leap with? I'm assuming you've had plenty of brands approach you.
It was odd because I did have different brands — in one week, I got three different job offers. And over the past year, I've had offers to do different things in media and in fashion and in beauty, but what I love about Revlon — and Elizabeth Arden and all of Revlon's brands — is that I know the brands so well. I've loved them and written about them for along time, and I feel like it's such a great moment because the new CEO [Fabian Garcia, who has served in that role since April of 2016] is phenomenal. He's smart, full of ideas and really strategic, so that was really appealing to me. He's working on major transformations, and to be on a team that's doing transformative work is really a thrill. I felt like I could actually participate in making changes and contributions.

Correction: The original version of this post inaccurately noted the period of time Wells spent at Condé Nast and incorrectly stated that her Hearst projects were created as branded content in collaboration with advertisers (in fact, they were purely editorial and were in no way influenced by advertisers). It has been updated to reflect these changes.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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