Roger Lynch, the global C.E.O. of Condé Nast, likes to go to fashion shows. He doesn’t mind taking pictures with celebrities, either. Of course, this shouldn’t be uncommon for someone running a multi-billion dollar international fashion-publishing conglomerate. But his notability at the shows speaks to the uncommon nature of his role.
Condé Nast, of course, is owned and controlled by Advance, the Newhouses’ family office. It was helmed for generations by Si Newhouse, an enigmatic and reclusive billionaire, who was famously a man of whims: his pastimes included indulging in his annual mitteleuropean wintertime art buying excursions, banishing garlic from the Frank Gehry cafeteria, and lavishing praise on Cicero, his beloved dog. Si’s greatest talent as an owner, however, was receding into the background in order to let his editors claim the spotlight—very much like you might expect from an experienced art patron.
As such, Condé Nast C.E.O.s were usually less glamorous, less out there—more uber-hustler publishers or Chamber of Commerce types. Chuck Townsend seemed less enthralled with the fashion world than yachting races in Newport. His successor, Bob Sauerberg, was basically internal-facing. And don’t forget, these executives had to keep up with Si and the executive culture he created on the business side, which usually included arriving at the office before 6 a.m. Not exactly fashion hours. (Jonathan Newhouse, who ran the international arm of the business before his family hired Lynch to merge it all into one, in 2019, would often turn up at shows, but that was different—he was a Newhouse.)