Elle magazine’s fashion news editor Anne Slowey arrived at the Kiehl’s store on Wednesday, Oct. 22, for the premiere of her new reality show Stylista and immediately popped a Pepto-Bismol.
Ms. Slowey, dressed in an understated long-sleeved black dress and strappy heels, wasn’t so much nervous as she was excited about the premiere of the CW network show on which she plays the judge and mentor to contestants aspiring to be "junior editors" at Elle. At the same time, she was trying not to take the whole thing too seriously.
"I’m not a big TV watcher, so I’m sort of the belief that it doesn’t really exist," Ms. Slowey told the Daily Transom. "In fact, we taped it back in April so I sort of forgot about it. There is definitely an element of self-parody involved that we’re all conscious of, but I’m the first one to laugh at myself in the office, so why not on national television? I don’t really care. It is a ridiculous industry. I mean, I feel very lucky to be part of it, but if you think about it, I sit around watching fashion shows and then drum up feature stories about it. It’s obviously something women take very seriously, but at the same time it’s kind of absurd. I’m not knocking it, I love fashion, but I hope I have a healthy perspective on it and am willing to make fun of myself."
This Anne Slowey seemed nothing like the icy, stern fashion editor mimicking Meryl Streep mimicking Anna Wintour whom we saw in the previews for the show. Was it possible that Ms. Slowey, despite her perfectly sculpted blond locks and drill sergeant outfits, was kinda cool?
Standing nearby was Maxim market editor William Buckley, one of the contestants on the show, who was born in Boston and raised in England. It became clear from the first episode that he would become the official shit-talker on the show
"Anne in the workplace is Anne in the workplace. She was hard on us because there was stuff to be done, but here she’s lovely, just look at her," said Mr. Buckley, looking in the direction of a smiling Ms. Slowey. "I actually bumped into her at the Band of Outsiders preview and I swear she threw open her arms and she ran over, like, ‘William!’"
Then Mr. Buckley said something the Daily Transom was strangely relieved to learn. "Anne can party, can party harder than anyone. Trust me, I’ve seen it. She can drink me under the table," he said.
In the debut episode, challenges assigned to the contestants included creating the perfect breakfast tray for Ms. Slowey, picking out office-appropriate attire at H&M, and designing their own contributors page, all while elbowing each other to impress their new boss on the first day of the job. (Mr. Buckley revealed that "Megan," the store-owner from Colorado, was "a bit of a bitch.")
And was this an accurate depiction of what goes into being an editor at a glossy fashion magazine?
"It depends on which magazine and it depends on your boss," said Mr. Buckley. "I’m sure Elle and Vogue are very much like that. I worked at Stuff magazine and my boss always burned my balls, she asked me to do all this crazy shit that I could never do."
"No one has ever carried a breakfast tray for me before the the show. The most anyone has ever carried was an iced latte from Starbucks or maybe, like, a bowl of soup," said Ms. Slowey. "I eat at my desk every day, I almost never take lunch. The reality of my life is the glamorous underbelly of fashion. I’m not out at Michael’s every day."
Elle creative director Joe Zee said he and Ms. Slowey agreed to do the show only if they could be themselves.
"We decided at the beginning that we were going to be honest," he said. "We weren’t mean to be mean. We were mean because we were being honest. It’s not a documentary, but I think there are definitely elements of reality to the show."
Accompanying Ms. Slowey to the premiere party were her two nieces, Meghan and Erin Slowey. The latter makes an appearance on the show as Ms. Slowey’s finicky niece who orders contestants to organize her birthday party.
"She’s a little Virgo like moi, and she has her bossy, bitchy, know-it-all side, which we were kind of like O.K., that works!" said Ms. Slowey. "She’s also a sweet little kid so I was kinda shocked. She scared me. I was like, oh, wow you’re inhabiting this way too easily. I actually had to have a talk with her afterward, like, ‘You know this isn’t reality, don’t be doing this to your friends at school!"