Project Runway is helping Elle fare the media recession far better than fashion-mag-competitor Vogue. Elle's all-important September issue has 7 percent more ads than last year compared with a 7 percent decline at Vogue. And as shown in the Ad Age graphic at left, Vogue's ad-page lead slipped January through September. And there are other reasons Anna Wintour should be pissed at herself for passing on the chance to tie Vogue into Runway:

Elle still trailed Vogue by more than 350 ad pages in the first half of 2008 but seems to be evening the playing field online, not to mention in pop culture. Forbes' recently compiled list of the top 10 most-powerful editors in fashion had Elle's Robbie Myers and Vogue's Anna Wintour tied at No. 2, citing Elle's "Runway" exposure and significant web traffic.

Even Wintour's former intern Sean Avery is wowed by television. Supposedly he's already filmed a scene for Marie Claire's forthcoming reality show Running In Heels.

The editor's only consolation is that her rivals are divided. Internal bickering has Runway switching from Elle to Claire. And it's not at all clear that Elle can hold on to its number-two spot with its new show Stylista, which competes with both Runway and Heels and thus far appears to be premised on clumsily imitating Wintour. She should hope the show doesn't gain traction — THAT would burn.

[Ad Age]