Scarlett Johansson Launches 'Vanity Fair's' New French Edition

Scarlett Johansson Horizontal - H 2013
Getty Images

Scarlett Johansson Horizontal - H 2013

Editors say they chose the part-time Parisian as the first cover for the magazine because she is "brilliant on the outside, biting on the inside."

PARIS – Scarlett Johansson has that je ne sais quoi, according to the French Vanity Fair editors who chose the American actress for the launch issue cover of the new magazine.

The French edition, which hits newsstands for the first time Wednesday, has Johansson on the cover with the title ‘Une Americaine a Paris.’ Editors said she was chosen for its first-ever issue because she “embodies the spirit of the magazine -- brilliant on the outside, biting on the inside.”

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The actress, sometimes singer and soon-to-be director -- who now splits her time between the U.S. and France -- is profiled by international editor Ingrid Sischy. Styled by Deborah Afshani in a black Tom Ford top and and a white Christian Dior coat on the cover, she was shot by Mark Seliger lounging in an opulent Parisian apartment. “She is the face of the transatlantic ideal,” editors said.

Johansson has been in the news here lately after filing suit against best-selling author Gregoire Delcaourt for using her name in his novel The First Thing We Look At. In the book, the main character is at first thought to be Johansson though is later revealed to be a doppelganger. Delacourt said he had chosen to invoke her moniker because she is the “epitome of beauty today.”

Under the editorial direction of former Le Grand Journal host Michel Denisot, who left the Canal Plus chat program in June after nine seasons to focus on the magazine launch, the French edition plans to keep the blend of culture, social issues, society and fashion, including the “Fanfare” section that is popular in the American book, while adding a French focus.

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Even if following in the designer-clad footsteps of its American cousin in look and feel, the magazine will maintain separate editorial. The first issue boasts an interview with the butler of L’Oreal heiress Lilianne Bettencourt, who has been mired in a political scandal for tax evasion and illegal donations to Nicolas Sarkozy and other conservative politicians; steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal; and international art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi. It also looks back on the once-legendary Parisian club Le Bains Douches, which is now becoming a luxury hotel.

In the midst of turmoil in the publishing market, Conde Nast hasn’t spared a centime, investing $19.5 million (€15 million) in the launch, with a promised $6.5 million (€5 million) in communications and advertising for the new publication in 2013 alone. The campaign will hit outdoor billboards as well as web advertising.

It also is launching an iPad and tablet edition, with exclusive content in addition to the magazine’s regular fare, available by subscription. Conde Nast says it expects the book to break even after three years and be profitable within eight, reaching 100,000 copies a month. The launch issue boast 93 pages of advertising, in a competitive local market that saw a 10.8 percent slide in the first quarter of the year in other fashion and luxury titles. The introductory issue will sell for €2, before the price settles at €3.95.