Interesting times ahead in the fashion world, dear readers! On 25th January Alexandra Shulman, the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue has announced her departure from the reputable publication and will leave its ranks in June. When she joined after leaving GQ 25 years ago despite having journalism and Vogue ‘in her blood’ (her mother Drusilla Beyfus was a Vogue associate editor in the ’70s, her father, Milton Shulman, was a Vogue film critic for a while) she wasn’t the obvious choice. Shulman has always been pleasingly free of pretention, self-aware, dare I say normal. Her candid, self-deprecating, down-to-earth approach was in stark contrast with her predecessor and felt incredibly refreshing in the weird and fancy world of fashion.
While as a 15-year-old I was blissfully unaware of what was happening behind the scenes at Vogue House in ’92, fast-forward a few years, I was poring over fashion images in Vogue and other magazines, anything connected to the fashion industry, supermodels (Cindy and Linda were my favorites) watching Fashion TV all the time and was secretly nursing a dream about once being able to work in this world. Fast forward again a good few years, today I am a makeup artist and the world of Vogue has had a lot of influence on the profession I’ve chosen and very much enjoy today.
Shulman took over editing the magazine in 1992. Remember all this?
This is just a taster of what happened since her takeover. Vogue has produced the most iconic images in fashion and under her leadership and it has become an unstoppable force influencing the global fashion world and modern culture. Taking the magazine through immense changing times Shulman has successfully turned London, Britain into a major fashion player by supporting local designers (like Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane), British photographers, stylists, make-up artists, constantly urging established fashion houses to show their collections in London. She was championing London Fashion Week, making the city an integral part of the Fashion Week circuit that used to revolve mostly around Paris, Milan and New York City.
British Vogue can’t be defined as only an isolated fashion entity anymore but through Alexandra Shulman’s hard work it exists within a context, it is part of British culture and it nicely reflects its richness and diversity. All this can be attributed to the fact that Shulman has never been only a ‘fashion person’ but first and foremost a journalist with many interests outside the fashion world.
While ironically she never showed as much interest in her own personal wardrobe as her predecessor, Liz Tiberis, she has a good number of iconic fashion moments, triumphs under her belt: making London Fashion Week what it is today, the centenary issue and putting a royal (The Duchess of Cambridge) on its cover, featuring plus-size model Ashley Graham on one of the covers, a whole model-free issue revolving around real women, her many collaborations with Kate Moss just to name a few. She’s been an avid cheerleader of the British fashion industry but not afraid of criticizing fashion houses about their minuscule sample sizes either.
|A few of Shulman’s fashion triumphs – Kate Moss collaborations, Ashley Graham cover and the centenary cover|
“I feel strongly that women who are in positions of authority or power, or who work in professions, should be able to indulge their interest in clothes and fashion without it seeming frivolous or that they don’t care about their jobs.” says Shulman and I think this above quote describes her best. It seems this strong belief proved to be a recipe for success for her. Vogue’s circulation grew 12% which is a big achievement in our digital age and with all the great fashion bloggers/vloggers around. She is now the most successful editor of British Vogue in its 100 years history.
|Alexandra Shulman and Anna Wintour *|
Writing about Shulman’s departure you can’t leave out her ongoing (strictly professional) competition with her glitzier American counterpart, Anna Wintour at US Vogue drawing to a close. The rivalry between the two towering figureheads of fashion has been an integral part of the history of both magazines, you almost can’t imagine one without the other. The tricky relationship between the two women has sparked many rumours, anecdotes yet they lived in symbiosis and I tend to think they kept each other on their toes, feeding each other’s creativity.
Alexandra Shulman has done what she could for Vogue above and beyond, the publication is left as a still well-functioning platform for the fashion industry. As she is off to seek new adventures, what the future holds for the magazine is still up in the air. If will definitely be interesting to see what direction Vogue will go from here. Her successor will be announced in due course.
(**Picture credits: http://my.npg.org.uk/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=415)