Back in the boom days, the Robb Report, that wish book of extravagant indulgences for the rich and the aspirational, had a person on staff called “Chief Luxury Officer.”
I saw her speak in Naples once; she was a fierce blond New Yorker, pencil-thin, draped in high-end jewelry and perched on power stilettos. Her appraising glance seemed to assess the price and pedigree—if not the worth—of everything and everyone, and she totally intimidated and terrified me.
We have a chief luxury officer, too—though that’s not her official title. She’s also from New York, but ours is short, brunette and cuddly, with an infectious giggle that accelerates to shrieks of laughter. (Our associate publisher, whose office is next to mine, has learned to close the door when she comes in for a meeting.) In New York, she worked for Fortune 500 companies, including Disney, and for publishing legends like Conde Nast. She also owned her own ad agency and founded a national shelter magazine.
But her heart, she tells me, belongs to Sarasota—the city and the magazine.
I believe her because she writes me ecstatic emails at every hour of the day or night, and they sound like a lover’s rhapsodies: “The photos they just sent me are so beautiful I am fainting”; “The store owner is adorable and has amazing lines straight from Paris”; or, most recently, when she managed to track down a famous Japanese food guru known as the Tokyo Fixer for a story in this issue about top foodie destinations: “The restaurant information he gave me was better than sex!” (In their last email exchange, the Fixer implored her to come to Tokyo with her husband so he could give them a VIP tour; he seemed to have totally forgotten that she woke him in the middle of the night when she first called and demanded urgent information for an obscure little magazine in Sarasota, Fla.)
I’m talking about our irrepressible style editor, Carol Tisch, whose passion for home furnishings, fashion and design is a driving force in every issue, but especially in this Platinum annual, which focuses on luxurious Sarasota products and experiences. She’s everything you dream of in a writer—smart, curious and creative, and best of all, she has what she describes as a touch of OCD, which means even the smallest assignment gets exhaustively researched and polished.
As our retail expert, she’s constantly trolling for new stores and products. Store owners love her, and she returns the compliment. “Our retailers are really very sophisticated, and they are right on target with trends,” she says. She loves to spot a hot new product in a local store, and she loves even more to get it into our magazine before national publications write about it. Last year, when we beat out The New York Times by featuring a cool outdoor chaise (carried locally by Home Resource) two weeks before it did, she rejoiced with all the gusto of a fan watching his team bang a goal into the net at a World Cup final.
Carol’s experience—and frequent travels, including in the last few years to China, Dubai, Italy and India—have helped her develop a sixth sense for spotting global trends, those enormous influencers of industry and lifestyle that bubble up from the cultural unconsciousness and these days, thanks to the Internet, flash around the world like “lightning,” she says. She also attends major industry trade shows, where, she admits with a giggle, she’s often accosted by chic young designers, who see her Sarasota Magazine nametag and exclaim, “Sarasota! My mother lives in Sarasota!”
You’ll see her influence and imprint all through this issue, from her Platinum 100, a guide to our city’s top retailers, to that story about culinary travel. Our theme this year is “Passions,” and I can’t think of a better person to help us deliver that than our exuberant and passionate style expert, Carol Tisch.