I was lucky enough to witness the greatest of pairings. Vogue on Vogue saw Dolly Jones, editor of Vogue.com UK interview Alexandra Shulman, Editor of Vogue UK. The interview was fascinating, Shulman is a fountain of knowledge of the magazine industry (with 17years at the helm of Vogue). Shulman never set out to rule the fashion world, in fact she still readily admits that her knowledge arriving at Vogue (as features editor) was more about literature and art within a luxury lifestyle than fashion. She describes her view of fashion as ‘pedestrian’ and ‘grounded’ and her rise to the helm of the most coveted publication was a case of luck and being in the right place at the right time. But did discuss the importance of interning, always be ready to do anything and everything. Don’t expect to be writing features, you will be photocopying for months, but it is the hard work that will get you noticed.
Like at Fringe, Shulman stressed the importance of designer DNA, get the core value and style of your brand right, before trying to take on the world. There was much discussion of celebrity features, something Shulman says she likes to balance out with models (on the front cover) but understands the importance of celebrity with fashion. The two go hand in hand, both financially and because of our celebrity loving lifestyle. After all, the magazine is about aspiration and luxury. Shulman felt LFW was the best it’s ever been and pointed out that the last recession gave us McQueen and McCartney, while briefly mentioning that the new kids like Kane, Erdem and Richard Nichol are really beginning to establish themselves. This lead onto discussing ways of supporting new talent financially, with Shuldman stressing that talent is not enough and one should get a business brain on board too.
The final topic of discussion was the future of magazines. You may gasp, but with advertising budgets slashed, the mainstay of magazine funding is under threat. Alexandra questioned newspapers actions of going all online, which in turn is destroying them. She acknowledges that there is a place for online publications, but feels print will survive, as there is no substitute for the feel of a magazine. Publications have to up their game and hone in on their market.
This was a fantastic insight into the women that is so unlike the versions of Vogue editors we see world over. Alexandra is a smart, sharp and intelligent woman who has not compromised herself on the way to the top. She has combined family and a career, something many women aspire to do, and on top of all that ‘she doesn’t look like an editor of Vogue’; A comment heard so frequently by Shulman herself and only goes to show that maybe, the face we all recognise as ‘fashion’ is not quite so.