Glossy Talk: Vogue Australia founder Bernard Leser inducted into AMA Hall of Fame

Girl Talk: Vogue Australia founder inducted into AMA Hall of Fame

Quality over viability was Vogue Australia founder Bernard Leser's motto when he was charged with launching the upmarket fashion magazine as a stand-alone title in Australia in 1959 after being tested as a supplement to the British edition. 

"Quality was absolutely vital," Leser is quoted saying in the Australian Magazine Awards' winners supplement. "We were much more interested in the quality of human relations and the quality of the product than money. The money came after that. We made a good profit but our shareholders were never greedy. We could have made more money had we approached it more in a Murdoch fashion, but the Newhouse family was different in its priorities."

At the AMA Awards held this morning, at which Leser was inducted into the Hall of Fame and given a standing ovation, he reminded the publishing fraternity that the business should be fun, and that creative people are a publication's greatest asset.

"I would say to you all here to always consider the creative people your stars, they are the ones that make the products that make you money."

Perceiving a poor return on investment, Conde Nast sold Vogue Australia to the German-born, New Zealand raised Leser and his business partners in 1972 only to buy it back in 1990. In the meantime, Leser rose to the illustrious ranks of the company, launching a German edition of Vogue in 1978 and becoming the VP of Conde Nast Europe and VP of Conde Nast USA in 1980 while still in London. In 1987 he moved to New York after being appointed president of Conde Nast USA. He returned to Australia in 1994 as chairman and managing director of Conde Nast Asia Pacific, and retired from full-time work in 1997. He was director and chairman of Text media from 1998 to 2002.

While Leser's legacy includes the local edition of the venerable Vogue title, his son, David Leser, is an award-winning journalist whose stories have appeared in Good Weekend and AMA Magazine of the Year The Australian Women's Weekly and whose profile subjects have included Tina Brown, Norma Khouri, Carla Bruni, Germaine Greer and, most recently, Bettina Arndt.

Yours truly,

Girl With a Satchel