Mirror, Mirror: Meet the local woman who's put her stamp on 'Seventeen'

"I try to picture what dresses will look amazing on the cover when I sit on the runway," Shoket says.
"I try to picture what dresses will look amazing on the cover when I sit on the runway," Shoket says.
Posted: February 13, 2014

NEW YORK - When Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Ann Shoket scouts the New York Fashion Week shows interpreting the runway trends for her teen readers, she focuses more on styling than silhouettes.

So it's no wonder that the editor, 41, born and raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, was impressed with Marissa Webb's eponymous fall 2014 collection, expertly accessorized with furry neck muffs, pointy-toe lace-up pumps, and must-have black leather arm warmers.

"She had so many cute ideas," Shoket said of Webb's Thursday afternoon grouping, pointing out that making fashion age-appropriate is more than what you wear; it's about how you wear it. "It was nice and clean with a lot of great styling tricks."

Other hot looks Shoket predicts for teens next fall? Tommy Hilfiger's preppy, tiered, tartan plaid skirts, and DKNY's puffy, black quilted jackets. Milly's ballerina-inspired, gold-sequined pants and the burnished boots on Tracy Reese's runway promise to be super fun. The shiny tennis shoes that Reese wore during her runway finale were teen-appropriate, not to mention ├╝ber-wearable, noted Shoket. And when it comes to "prom-spiration," Badgley Mischka's Tuesday morning runway didn't disappoint with flesh-toned, demure looks that teens will be sure to emulate.

And, "Oh, my God, the coats," said Shoket, gushing over the cozy outerwear all over the runways. "The polar vortex must have really changed the perspective. Guess we'll be doing a coat story."

But the cover of Seventeen, said Shoket, needs color. And that promises to be a tricky feat, as fall's color palette is looking like a textured mix of black, smoke, black, white, black, navy, and more black.

"I try to picture what dresses will look amazing on the cover when I sit on the runway," Shoket said. "I'm looking for the dress that says, 'Please, come pick me up.' The fastest way to my heart is pink."

Within a few months of Shoket's taking over Seventeen magazine seven years ago, the glossy became the No. 1 teen magazine on newsstands. It has remained there since.

"She's such an amazing force in the magazine industry," said Tina Wells of the South Jersey-based teen, trend-watcher Buzz Marketing Group. "She has a quiet kind of strength, and I love how she is turning Seventeen into a book focused on girl power and entrepreneurship, not just fashion and boys."

Much of Seventeen's popularity can be attributed to the social-media blitz Shoket has fostered with the iconic brand.

Seventeen was the first magazine to use the vanishing-picture app Snapchat in October 2013, and in line with the popular teen hashtag #OOTD - outfit of the day - Shoket instituted #shoesdaytuesday and #manicuremonday. Her own berry fingertips made a statement two days prior as she sat behind her desk in her seventeenth floor office, her black-and-white print Chloe dress just skimming her baby bump. Shoket is expecting baby No. 2 in May.

"Social media has made the conversation so much more interesting," Shoket said. To her husband's chagrin, she's often Instagramming and tweeting from her living room couch late into the evening. "The reason we put a real girl on the cover of Seventeen three years ago was because girls were asking for it. Suddenly they had the tools to tell me what they wanted."

Last year, 14-year-old Maine resident Julia Bloom started a petition asking the magazine's staff to just show one unairbrushed photo a year, which resulted in Seventeen's recent pledge to stop airbrushing all photos of teen celebrities and real girls. Shoket instituted a "body peace treaty" promising the editors would explain what went on behind the scenes at photo shoots.

Seventeen also launched a YouTube channel featuring six shows about fashion, makeup, and of course, boys. So far the channel, which hopes to eventually host nine shows and generate revenue, has 200,000 viewers.

To celebrate Seventeen's 70th birthday, the magazine just launched its March 2014 power issue featuring Selena Gomez on the cover wearing a midriff T-shirt courtesy of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's Elizabeth & James label. Gomez, along with Olympian Gabby Douglas, singer Demi Lovato, and - gasp - Miley Cyrus, made the magazine's most powerful girls under 21 list.

"We had so many questions from girls about how to find power," Shoket said during the three-block drive from lunch at Nougatine to the Lincoln Center. "The top three answers were independence, giving back, and money."

So with the resurgence of '90s clothes, are we seeing a return of the independent woman, circa 1994?

"She's strong, she's bad-ass, she's inspired," said Shoket, referring to Lorde, the 17-year-old New Zealand songwriter whose debut single, "Royals," is hot in the teen and tween crowd. "She's fueled by self-awareness, but there isn't any of the cynicism. We were cynics."

Shoket lived in Huntingdon Valley until she was 6. Then her father, who worked in commercial real estate, moved the family to Denver during the early 1980s real estate boom. The family moved back to the Yardley area around 1986.

She attended Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills and worked at a bookstore in Oxford Valley Mall, where she was in charge of racking the magazines, including the era's edgy Details and i-D.

Shoket graduated from New York University in 1994 with a degree in English and took a job at American Lawyer magazine, helmed by Steve Brill. While there she launched an online lifestyle and party magazine called Tag.Mag. She made connections with both fashion and publishing industry bigwigs and eventually was the first to host mediabistro before it was its own website.

She joined the Hearst family in 1999 to launch Seventeen spin-off CosmoGirl, where she worked for eight years before heading up Seventeen.

Dressed in a quilted Rebecca Taylor coat and carrying a matching Chanel bag, Shoket carefully exited her Town Car - all the top fashion editors take them to the city's far-reaching shows - and walked up the icy Lincoln Center steps. Cameras flashed from paparazzi and style bloggers. A teenager tentatively approached Shoket, perhaps recognizing her from her work hosting America's Top Model. She wanted an internship at Seventeen.

"See what I mean?" Shoket later said of the encounter. "These girls have so much get up-and-go. They are really harnessing their power."


ewellington@phillynews.com

215-854-2704 @ewellingtonphl

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