Peter Davis on Style, New York and his new SCENE
Peter Davis, one of my favorite New York City blue bloods is certainly one to watch! I was so excited to hear about the launch of SCENE, his own society glossy backed by Jared Kushner of The New York Observer. The former Editor in Chief of Avenue Magazine and born and bred Manhattanite (he is related to the Mortimer family and his great grandfather founded The Davis Cup) gives us an inside look at NYC’s old and new elite–SCENE is unique because it is not just a magazine about them, but by them. In the first issue, biting features like Where in the World is John Galliano and The Socialite/The Shopping Site/The Scandal! are sure to ruffle a few feathers. I caught up with the stylish literati where he shares some of his insider secrets and the scoop on SCENE.
Melissa Meyers: Congratulations on the launch of SCENE. What can we expect from the publication?
Peter Davis: SCENE is all about insiders taking you inside every corner of New York. Next month, Carson Griffith’s monthly column “Haute Spot” for example gives you all the secret scoop on Super Linda, the boite of the moment – from where to sit and who to know and when to go. We also have three investigative features every month that are long and in depth – very Vanity Fair and though some are set in New York, they appeal to people all over the globe. They can be a tad scandalous and the hardest part of my job is that I by nature truly strive to be nice to everyone and I’ve had to make some hard decisions. I know that some of the articles I publish will rile people up, some of them friends, but I am an Editor in Chief and when I question how far I should push the envelope, I think of my hero Graydon Carter and say to myself, ‘Graydon would publish this story because it’s a great article and wouldn’t worry about pissing off the subjects.’ These are news stories – we are not a tabloid who goes through people’s trash, but when rich people behave badly, they need to be called out, especially when they break the law. And in addition to great features, there are plenty of party pictures, fashion, amazing things to crave and a great Pop Art influenced palate. The sharp eyes of our Creative Director Cricket Burns and Art Director Dean Quigley always blow me away. All of the covers will be supermodels (the next issue is my friend Hilary Rhoda). Celebrity covers and the puff pieces about them bore me. We will cover celebrities that fascinate us, people like the mysterious and talented Justin Theroux, but not just giving them pages as a platform to promote a movie and talk about how great they are.
MM: How did you come up with the idea of SCENE and then make it happen?
PD: Avenue was a great EIC training experience, but I grew frustrated with the creative handcuffs I was forced to wear. The magazine aimed to be best friends with everyone and that is fine and dandy, but doesn’t exactly make for compelling reading 12 months a year. I did skew younger with the magazine, putting Hannah Bronfman on one cover (dubbing her “Girl of the Year”) and Alexandra Richards on another cover with all the other hot DJ girls like Chelsea Leyland on the inside. But Avenue’s longtime publisher Julie Dannenberg and Cricket and I knew there was room for something bigger and better than Avenue. And also so-called “society” isn’t just limited to the Upper East Side, which is the only neighborhood Avenue is delivered. People who are social and interesting and innovators are all over the city from Harlem to Tribeca to the West Village and SCENE is distributed to every corner of the city as well as news stands. And it isn’t a magazine only for rich, but for everyone who loves New York, great writing (sharing offices and being able to use the amazing writers from The New York Observer is a huge plus) and beautiful, stylish visuals.