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April 19 2014

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Peter Kaplan, R.I.P.

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Peter KaplanPeter Kaplan, the editorial director of Fairchild Fashion Media, of which Style.com is part, died yesterday. He was 59. There will be many anecdotes in the coming days and weeks—Peter was one of the rare people you come across who could legitimately be described as legendary—but for now it is enough to say that everyone at Style.com is immeasurably sad and our thoughts are with his family. Because he was the editor of the New York Observer for 15 years and in that time defined its ironic, knowing take on the city’s elites, he became known as the godfather of snark, an attitude that launched a thousand blogs. But Peter’s approach to journalism was irony-free and had nothing to do with snark; it was heartfelt and passionate. I would say he regarded it as a sacred duty. When I was getting ready to write my editor’s letter for the first issue of Style.com/Print, which was less of a traditional editor’s letter than an attempt to capture the chaos of the fashion shows, he said to me, “It doesn’t matter what you write as long as you believe it. In other words you shouldn’t take an ironic attitude to your subject. It should be what you believe.” I smiled because it went against his reputation, but in a nutshell that was how he thought of journalism, no matter whether you were writing about U.S. presidents or the politics of the catwalk. Of course, he wanted it to be exuberant—the first thing he said to me when Style.com came under Fairchild’s umbrella was “we’re going to have so much fun”—but it was exuberance with a serious intent. In that and so many other ways, Peter was inimitable.

Photo: Thomas Iannaccone

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