Many women define glamour. However, Cindi Leive is Glamour. The elegant editor-in-chief of the illustrious women’s magazine is the “Most Powerful U.S. Fashion Magazine Editor,” according to Forbes. Under Leive’s leadership, the publication has risen to new heights—it reaches 12.4 million readers monthly—and received critical acclaim, including two National Magazine Awards (the Oscars of the industry).
Fashion trends are far from the only topics at the forefront of Leive’s mind. The mother of two is also a champion of women’s issues. In 2008, she received a White House Project EPIC Award for an article about ordinary woman changing the world in extraordinary ways. She also annually honors incredible females at Glamour‘s Women of the Year Awards, which in 2005 shed the spotlight on Mukhtar Mai—the brave Pakistani woman who used her compensation from a terrible tragedy to open a small school. In 2006, Leive won an award for her activism in bringing this heroine to the United States.
Here, Leive shares with us her precious family heirloom and childhood dreams of becoming a glamorous reporter.
Tell us how you came to own this precious object.
“My heirloom is a Knabe piano—from Germany, probably made around the turn of the last century—that belonged to my grandmother Clara Leive. It had been given to her by her husband, my grandfather, when they lived in the Bronx without a lot of room or money; I think it was one of their few luxuries.
I love it for lots of reasons. First, because Granny gave it to my father and mother, and after they divorced, it was one of the few objects from “my father’s side” that stayed in my mom’s house. I liked it because it, like me, had roots in both sides. Then, it was in storage for years while I lived in apartments too tiny to house it, and when I finally landed a place large enough for the piano, I felt like I was actually a grownup. Today it’s the centerpiece of our house, and my kids play it obsessively.”
How do you live with your heirloom?
“I live in a townhouse, and the piano sits in the middle of the parlor floor, which means it is smack in the epicenter of the house. It gets played every day by someone, though usually not by me!”
Who in your life has most influenced your personal style and taste?
“I could never pin it down to just one person. My mother influenced my style even though she didn’t care about fashion in the least; she cultivated a kind of mad-scientist aesthetic (glasses, crazy curly hair) that I think taught me that loving how you look is more important than looking perfect.
As a kid and wannabe reporter I cut out Brenda Starr comic strips and hung them on my wall: I thought her long wavy red hair, crisp shoulder-padded suits and reporter’s notebook were the most glamorous combination in the world.”
[Fill in the blank] Whenever I look at ___“My two kids”___I can’t help but smile. “Duh! Because I love them, but also because they’re funny.”
What’s the best part of your day?
“I like the moment in the morning when I’ve come back from a run, and am having a cup of coffee with a kid on my lap. I don’t love the actual exercising; but I really like it when it’s over! ”
What was the most memorable gift you’ve ever given or received?
“My uncle, father and stepmother recently found an old recording of me goofing around playing piano with my grandmother (the same one) when I was 10 and made it into a CD. In the recording, we are cracking up, completely hysterical, singing a Gilbert & Sullivan song. I listened to it and felt like I was in the room again—amazing.”
What was your last purchase that you believe (or hope) will mean something to you 10 years from now?
“Well, much as I love my iPad, I’m pretty sure it won’t be the latest greatest thing in 10 years! I’m going to go with my house. My husband and I moved our family to Brooklyn three years ago and spent a lot of time thinking about what our dream house would look like. I still feel really happy when I walk through the door at night.”