The magazine publisher’s job merges elements of fantasy and mystery for many. For outsiders, it is a glamorous occupation that requires frequent travel around the world, parties, and galas with the influential and famous, invitation-only behind-the-scenes frenzy, and having the power to decide what circulates for the public’s consumption.
Christopher Gialanella is one such individual. As the Group Publisher for several of Modern Luxury’s 22 iconic brands, including Riviera, Interiors, and Palm Springs, and Director of Client Relations for all Los Angeles brands including Angeleno and Los Angeles Confidential. Gialanella became one of the most prominent luxury lifestyle executives in an era when print media is in steady decline. Despite the statistics ( over 360 newspapers have closed shop since the pandemic), Modern Luxury continues to excite, engage, and expand its audience with relevant content and collector-worthy print editions.
From Political Science to Luxury Media Maestro
Lifestyle media was not where the New Jersey native expected to forge a career. Upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a political science degree, Gialanella worked for Congressman Dean Gallo before heading to New York and then Los Angeles for a marketing job with PIMS, where he remained for several years. It wasn’t until his girlfriend, now wife brought home a copy of Angeleno and urged him to contact the publisher for an interview.
It wasn’t the luxury element that compelled Gialanella to make the call – he knew he was an ace at sales. It was in his blood. “I knew I could convince businesses to invest their advertising dollars onto the pages of Angeleno,” says Gialanella. Angeleno’s target audience is among the most affluent was hardly a concern. “I knew nothing about luxury,” confides Gialanella. “I knew nothing about it, but I had a good personality to get into sales.”
Gialanella was confident in his sales prowess, that he convinced publisher Michael Kong to hire him on a commission-only basis. Gialanella vividly recalls the conversation; “So when do I start? Can I start right now? And he said, “Yes, start right now.” ” The sales calls began and the Angeleno vision grew even further “Angeleno was such a beautiful product. It wasn’t that hard of a sale because many people wanted to be part of it,” he admits. Impressed by Angeleno’s infinite potential, Gialanella absorbed all he could about publishing with Kong’s tutelage.
Along with Modern Luxury’s ascendancy and expansion came the proverbial bumps in the road: An economic recession and changes in ownership in the early stages that quickened the end for many publications. Modern Luxury emerged as relevant as ever, adapting to technological demands and changes in how its readership receives information without sacrificing its primary print stronghold.
Gurus had the opportunity to chat with Gialanella about everything from the future of print publishing to his health, fitness regimen, and definition of luxury.
Gurus Magazine: What attracts you most to the Modern Luxury brand? What makes it different from others?
Christopher Gialanella: What I love about it is that we didn’t cover politics, news, and sports. It’s just something we steer clear of. Taking your mind away from your everyday problems is what I love about Modern Luxury.
Gurus Magazine: How do you define luxury?
Christopher Gialanella: Luxury takes on different meanings. You can live a life of luxury and not be a rich person, right? It depends on the company you keep, where you go in life and the path you take. There are a lot of people who aren’t necessarily millionaires, but still live a pretty damn good life in the luxury field – whether they work in a high-end furniture store or luxury hotel – they’re surrounded by it. And when you’re around that world, it’s something you can relate to.
Gurus Magazine: What keeps Modern Luxury alive and kicking when other print publications are failing?
Christopher Gialanella: I think the mantra of Modern Luxury that’s been consistent is that we are known as a national brand that reaches local markets. We are in 22 cities across the country, so we have an advantage with local people on the ground promoting the product. I think that’s why we’ve been so successful in print – Because we can attract more luxury consumers in a targeted place than most other media companies. In addition to it being aesthetically pleasing – it’s more of a personal relationship with the publication itself. We always think of ourselves as ‘who are the many’ rather than ‘how many.’
Gurus Magazine: How did Modern Luxury keep connected with readers during the pandemic?
Christopher Gialanella: Plenty of our magazines were taken out of the hotels because everyone thought you could get COVID from holding and touching it. But we took it to another step – we mailed more to homes because that’s where everybody was. It was reviving the old subscription method that got the ball rolling for us. People were reading magazines at home and getting their minds away from the pandemic and current events.
Gurus Magazine: Speaking of staying close to home, how do you feel about stay-cations?
Christopher Gialanella: I’m a fan of stay-cations! I love waking up on a Sunday knowing that I don’t have to rush off to an airport and to enjoy the day. I find great pleasure in that more than getting up to go on a flight.
Gurus Magazine: If you could devote an entire issue to one place, what would it be?
Christopher Gialanella: A place that might need some attention and for giving back. Whether it’s kids that need help with education or mentorship. The main philosophy of what we stand up for is digging deep into that community and learning about it without any preconceived notions. It would be nice to find a way to draw attention and find a way to get people to care. Sometimes, our world neglects those places because we’re so busy talking about the best handbag on Rodeo Drive or the best place to shop. There are a lot of people in desperate need of help. I’d love to see one of the issues dedicated to that.
Gurus Magazine: Why are health and fitness such a big part of your life?
Christopher Gialanella: I have always been a big fitness enthusiast. If I feel good, everyone else feels good around me. It’s part of who I am as a person. It helps you to be a wonderful role model. I take it seriously because you never know what can happen. I’m very careful about what I eat and I try to do 10,000 steps a day. I enjoy playing tennis, golf, but it’s really what you put into your body that’s most important. But you have to live, too. So I’ll never turn down a big bowl of spaghetti. If it’s there, I’ll find a way to eat it, but not overdo it.
Gurus Magazine: Tell us more about Stark Naked Challenge and your chosen charity?
Christopher Gialanella: Ten years ago, Stark Gym contacted me because I had written in the magazine about how I wanted to get in the best shape of my life. Their goal is to build your foundation up by training you as a bodybuilder. Then you pick a charity for sponsors to donate to.
Years later, they’ve asked the All-Stars to come back, this time, my charity is the one my son started after we took a trip to Washington DC. He developed a highly attuned interest in political governance and realized that there are a lot of young people who don’t know how the government works. So my son started GoveLearn, which became a 501c3 to educate kids about politics and how divided the world is today, He keeps it nonpartisan and it has become a chance for young people to engage in civics and understand how things work.
Gurus Magazine: Any final thoughts?
Christopher Gialanella: Who knew I’d be still doing this after 22 years? I love it! looking forward to the great things we’re doing in the future with new products and opportunities along the way. I want to thank our current owners – Michael, John, and Lew Dickey along with John Amato for taking Modern Luxury to the next level.
Article was written by Jody Miller
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Images by Dexter Brown