Matt Rice will always be an Oklahoman at heart. The drive and determination he learned in the Sooner State has served him well in the Big Apple, as well as in the cutthroat magazine industry. Since his University of Tulsa days, Rice has wanted only one career: a publisher in a large publishing company like, say, Conde Nast. The getting of that one thing has taken Rice from Dallas to Chicago and finally Manhattan, putting the Wagoner native right in the middle of the publishing world. His position as executive director of International Fashion for Women’s Wear Daily and Style.com allows him to concentrate on his favorite subject, fashion.
Oklahoma Magazine: You’re in Manhattan now, but you made a few stops along the way.
Matt Rice: After I graduated, I lived in Dallas for a couple of years and then Chicago for five and a half years, and I’ve been in New York for just over two years.
OM: Was this all time spent in the magazine industry, as well?
MR: No. In Chicago I worked for a big ad agency, and from there I moved over to the publishing side and worked for a couple of small magazines, Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel and then eventually Conde Nast’s Teen Vogue. I left there to work on Glamour, also a Conde Nast publication.
OM: Teen Vogue and Glamour. Was fashion and style a particular choice or did you just fall into it?
MR: It’s interesting because even when I worked on Teen Vogue as a fashion magazine and Glamour, fashion and beauty, I actually wasn’t working so much on fashion with those magazines. Part of the reason was because I was living in the Midwest and the nature of my work was not endemic. I was working on a lot of packaged goods, that kind of thing. It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I began to focus on fashion, which is something that’s always been an interest to me, but until you get to New York, you really can’t work on fashion. That was a big part of the reason I moved here, where I work on, among other things, Women’s Wear Daily and Style.com.
OM: So what’s the most The Devil Wears Prada moment you have had in the industry? No names required…
MR: People definitely have their diva moments…lots of big personalities and egos in this business. I’ve had some very tough bosses, but fortunately I haven’t worked for anyone quite as crazy as Miranda from The Devil Wears Prada. But there has been yelling, cursing, making fun of outfits. You get over it.
OM: Do you ever take any ribbing from friends or colleagues for having been such a small-town boy?
MR: Not too much. I try to use it to my advantage by turning on the good ol’ boy charm (it doesn’t always work!). New York is full of people from all over the world, so I don’t think anyone is too concerned with where you came from. Although, I think some New Yorkers assume that people from the Midwest and South don’t work as hard so I’ve had to overcome that. When I moved to New York I definitely had to pick up the pace.
OM: The goal is still a publisher’s desk?
MR: The ultimate goal is moving up the ladder into a publishing spot. I’m working on it.