One of Deputy Managing Editor John Montorio's ambitions for the features side of the Times is a stand-alone weekly section called Image. He thinks it would be a perfect fit with Los Angeles. While the costly section is still some months off, today he and Deputy Features Editor Michalene Busico took the first step by forming a pod of reporters "that will cover fashion, beauty, style, cosmetic surgery, advertising and all the trends and quirks that come with one of L.A.'s great obsessions: Image." Busico will oversee the coverage. The memo follows:
To: The Staff
From: John Montorio, Deputy Managing Editor; Michalene Busico, Deputy Features Editor
We're very happy to announce the formation of a new reporting group that will cover fashion, beauty, style, cosmetic surgery, advertising and all the trends and quirks that come with one of L.A.'s great obsessions: Image.
Mimi Avins, Valli Herman, Booth Moore and Gina Piccalo will begin working with Michalene to create a uniquely L.A. approach to these subjects, exploring not just the ways and lengths Angelenos go in matters of self-presentation, but also the sociology and effect they have on our city and beyond. Image is, after all, one of L.A.'s prime exports and we plan to cover it as such.
Their work soon will begin appearing in Calendar, on a dedicated page that also will serve as a kind of lab for a section we've been eager to produce for a long time. We'll be experimenting with new approaches and columns, and evolving a smart, irreverent voice.
It's a collaborative way of creating a new stand-alone section, which we hope to launch later this year. We couldn't have a stronger advance team.
Valli came to The Times in January 1999 as senior fashion writer. She joined the Food staff when it relaunched in the fall of 2002, and in her most recent position in Calendar Weekend, has created terrific columns and cover stories. Valli, a native of central Illinois, where her family operated a clothing store, founded in 1875 (that's not a typo -- it lasted 120 years, until 1995. She was the fourth generation in the family to work there). Before coming to The Times, Valli wrote features, columns and hard news at the Post-Tribune in Gary, Ind., the Los Angeles Daily News and the Dallas Morning News.
Booth, our fashion critic since last spring, started her career in journalism in 1994 at the Washington Post, before moving to the Manchester (Vermont) Journal in 1995. A native New Yorker who'd always dreamed of moving to Los Angeles, Booth did so in 1996, when she was hired to work on the new Weekend Calendar section. Intent on pursuing fashion coverage, she soon moved to Life & Style, where she also wrote her own column So Cal Confidential. Before her appointment as critic, Booth covered fashion for five years.
Gina began her career in 1992 at the Mecklenburg Gazette in Charlotte, N.C., went on to work for the Marietta Daily Journal, Atlanta magazine and the Associated Press in Atlanta and came to The Times in 1998. As a Times news reporter, she covered Ventura County and L.A.'s Westside. Gina joined the features department in 2001 to help launch a weekly celebrity column and has since covered trends in celebrity, pop culture and advertising as well as general interest L.A. stories.
Mimi embarked on her journalism career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, then became a freelance writer for such publications as GQ, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Elle, Mirabella, Allure, Elle Décor and the New York Times Arts & Leisure section. She was also a contributing editor of Premiere. Mimi joined The Times in 1995 as fashion editor, and served in that capacity till 1998. Since then she's been a reporter in Features writing about a wide variety of topics.
Under Michalene's direction, these four talented and experienced reporters will begin making an immediate contribution to the quality and scope of the Features report. In the process, they will be laying the foundation for a vibrant addition to the newspaper.
Please join us in congratulating them on their appointment to this exciting, new endeavor.