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19-08-2007
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Alexandra as a guest on Women's Hour
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Christmas present etiquette 03 January 2005Gracefully accept or ask for the receipt?

Can you get away with asking for the receipt? Or should you smile sweetly and pretend you're grateful?

Woman's Hour is joined by Comedian Arabella Weir and Alexandra Schulman the UK editor of Vogue.
listen here


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Vintage clothesSaturday 12 January 2002
Many people enjoy rooting around in jumble sales and Oxfam shops for a chance sighting of that full length fake fur coat or 60s mohair suit.

But the fashion for wearing second-hand clothing received a boost recently when Gwyneth, Winona and Madonna all turn up at awards ceremonies in clothes their grandmother's might have worn. But of course nowadays it's not called second-hand - it's vintage.
Next Wednesday Vogue is holding a grand jumble sale of vintage clothes donated by fashion designers and celebrities. It's in aid of The Fashion and Textile Museum and the Red Cross.
Vogue's editor Alexandra Schulman talks to Jennifer Chevalier.

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Why are young British designers going abroad?20 Feb 2004
At the end of London Fashion Week why do some people argue that British fashion is currently lagging far behind Milan, Paris and New York?

Does the absence of some of the top designers mean that Britain is in the design doldrums - or can we draw hope from some of the new talent emerging onto the scene?

Charlie Porter, deputy fashion editor of the Guardian, Alexandra Schulman, Editor of Vogue and Tanya Sarne of Ghost join Martha to discuss why we are losing our best talent overseas.

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16-09-2007
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which issue is her first full-edited issue?
i know the year is 1992,but i wanna know the mouth

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26-01-2008
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from telegraph.co.uk




Style notebook: milestones in a glossy career--05/2002

Quote:
On January 29, 1992, the Daily Telegraph headlines read "Palestine? It's simply a state of mind", "Serb rebel leaders reject UN peace plan", "Iraqis fool FO over armaments". Most of you probably won't remember precisely where you were when you read these. In fact, it might well have been yesterday. But I know exactly where I spent a large part of that day. I was at Browns in South Molton Street trying to find something to wear for the announcement to be made later that morning that I had been appointed editor of British Vogue.

Although I had a wardrobe stuffed with clothes, I didn't feel I had anything quite right for the press furore that I knew would follow, but I had absolutely no idea what was going to be appropriate. An overnight transformation into a designer-suited fashion magazine editor wasn't a realistic option, but even I was aware that the occasion demanded something a bit more glamorous than the cropped, green Nicole Farhi jacket I spent many of my days in.

At the time, I was editing GQ and having a lovely life surrounded by men and thinking of cover lines such as "Do hotel rooms make better lovers?" or "Real men don't use mice". All that was to change as I was launched into the Vogue world.

After much panicking and uncertainty, my sister, who I had dragged along to help, convinced me that a black Lolita Lempicka suit with metal zips simply everywhere would be the right mixture of stylish and relaxed, and I headed back to Vogue House to change in the loos. Looking back, I'm not absolutely convinced by the suit, but the perfect choice so often evades. There's something about having to dress for a specific occasion which paralyses one and more often than not seems to nudge almost everyone into not their best look.

Last week, my boss Jonathan Newhouse hosted a 10-year anniversary party for me. Same panic, same trip to Browns - although, this time, I didn't find a solution and instead asked my friend Edina Ronay to make me a white version of a blue suit of hers that I already owned. The night before the party, I kept Gina Shoes open, desperately seeking a pair that would work with the Chloe blouse I had found only that morning.

The party was filled with people who have been part of my life not just for the past 10 years but the past 44. At times, it seemed my life was flashing - in pre-drowning style - before my eyes. My father in one corner, Phoebe Philo in another. My goddaughter arriving, Michael Green leaving. My best friend looking for her boyfriend, as I was scouring the room for Lucinda Chambers, Vogue's fashion director.

Trying to cram one's life into one room - even if it's the magnificent dining room at the Ritz - is a challenge and not without its fraught moments. Just at the moment when Miuccia Prada arrived, having made the journey from Milan, I found myself trying to argue my seven-year-old son into a taxi to go home.

The past 10 years have gone by indescribably quickly. Time kaleidoscopes, and if you have a memory like mine, very little stands out. The decade is compressed into surprisingly few moments and magazines, but of the 120 issues I have edited over the 10 years, there are a number of favourites. I will always love the cover of a leather clad Christy Turlington and Bono, which we ran in 1992, the year of the mighty U2 Zoo tour when Achtung Baby was the soundtrack to all our lives. The commemorative cover of the Princess of Wales published two weeks after she died is another landmark in my personal Vogue history, because it was the fastest cover that has ever been created for the magazine. The millennium cover issue of December 1999 with its imageless silver cover was another exciting moment and one which rewardingly gave us the best-selling issue ever.

But, really, the decade has not been about magazine covers. Dredging my mind, there is a funny and eclectic mixture of memories. Maddeningly, the more difficult moments seem to have more resilience. I will never forget arriving in Milan for my first womenswear collections and sitting in a stretch limo full of fashion editors, half of whom were in tears owing to the competitive stresses of the new team merging with the old.
Later that month, I recall my introductory party in Paris, where, squeezed into an Antony Price red velvet frock, I had the horrible experience of having to pose next to Linda Evangelista, who towered at least 18 inches over me.

The inconceivable furore that broke out in the national press when we published Corinne Day's images of Kate Moss in underwear in a grungy flat was one of the most interesting times of the decade. It was thoroughly enjoyable to be at the centre of this storm, and we started a tally chart of the number of times the newspapers and television channels reproduced these apparently derided and reprehensible images, in the supposed cause of protecting the nation's stylistic morality.

Hosting a dinner for Gianni Versace at Harry's Bar in 1993, I won't forget attempting to do the Sisyphean task of placement as one person after another's personal trainer or personal chef had to be squeezed into the finite number of chairs. Several years later, his sad funeral at Milan cathedral was another extraordinary day as I watched the black-clad fashion royalty - from Naomi Campbell to Giorgio Armani to Karl Lagerfeld - arrive. I don't envy the person who was responsible for that seating plan.
In fashion, the past 10 years have been wonderfully liberating and the business has boomed. We've experienced the day of the cardigan, the death of the hemline, the habit of bare legs in winter, the cool of grunge. Prada, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Marni, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Stella McCartney have planted their flags on the fashion map. And black, after all this time, is still the new black.

But, really, the decade has not been about magazine covers. Dredging my mind, there is a funny and eclectic mixture of memories. Maddeningly, the more difficult moments seem to have more resilience. I will never forget arriving in Milan for my first womenswear collections and sitting in a stretch limo full of fashion editors, half of whom were in tears owing to the competitive stresses of the new team merging with the old.

Later that month, I recall my introductory party in Paris, where, squeezed into an Antony Price red velvet frock, I had the horrible experience of having to pose next to Linda Evangelista, who towered at least 18 inches over me.

The inconceivable furore that broke out in the national press when we published Corinne Day's images of Kate Moss in underwear in a grungy flat was one of the most interesting times of the decade. It was thoroughly enjoyable to be at the centre of this storm, and we started a tally chart of the number of times the newspapers and television channels reproduced these apparently derided and reprehensible images, in the supposed cause of protecting the nation's stylistic morality.

Hosting a dinner for Gianni Versace at Harry's Bar in 1993, I won't forget attempting to do the Sisyphean task of placement as one person after another's personal trainer or personal chef had to be squeezed into the finite number of chairs. Several years later, his sad funeral at Milan cathedral was another extraordinary day as I watched the black-clad fashion royalty - from Naomi Campbell to Giorgio Armani to Karl Lagerfeld - arrive. I don't envy the person who was responsible for that seating plan.

In fashion, the past 10 years have been wonderfully liberating and the business has boomed. We've experienced the day of the cardigan, the death of the hemline, the habit of bare legs in winter, the cool of grunge. Prada, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Marni, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Stella McCartney have planted their flags on the fashion map. And black, after all this time, is still the new black.

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26-01-2008
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from independent.co.uk

Quote:
Alexandra Shulman: editor of 'Vogue'

Alexandra Shulman, editor of 'Vogue', is concerned that current fashion models are not developing into magazine cover stars. She talks to Ian Burrell about her 14 years at the helm of a fashion bible

Monday, 30 January 2006

Right next to the sumptuous entrance to Vogue House, in central London, is a clothes shop that purveys such finery as maid's outfits (the real thing, not the Ann Summers variety), stiff white uniforms for caterers and fluorescent ones for grafters in the construction industry.


The store is named Alexandra and there is a certain irony in that, for every morning Alexandra Shulman, the long-standing editor of Vogue magazine, must walk right past it to enter her working world. The sober workwear garments on sale in Alexandra bear little resemblance to the shiny, glitzy couture hanging from the racks in the corridors outside Shulman's office.


To be editor of Vogue means to be surrounded by the finest and newest creations of Prada, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, to be invited to exclusive book launch parties and the openings of the latest art exhibitions, and to commission stellar photographers such as Mario Testino and supermodels such as Kate Moss. Indeed, Moss will grace the cover of Vogue next month, hair tousled and dressed in white for the new season. After her cocaine capers of last year, the supermodel could hardly have a better vehicle for furthering her rehabilitation than a title frequently referred to as 'the Bible' of the London fashion industry.

Shulman says the shoot pre-dated the Daily Mirror-inspired scandal and certainly she makes no apology for it. "There's not a huge amount of difference between the Charles Kennedy story and the Kate Moss story. It's not like everybody who needed to know didn't know. Nobody minded because they were doing their jobs fine," she observes. "Then there's a kind of exposé and everybody has to make some kind of reaction to it. I think it's a kind of hypocritical way to behave."


Aware that impressionable young women devour her magazine, she adds: "Having said that, Kate Moss is a role model to young women and I definitely feel that people should not be taking cocaine."

The appeal of a Moss cover is clear. The supermodel has helped create some of the most memorable images of Shulman's 14-year Vogue editorship and her appearance on the front of September's issue inspired the second-highest sale in the magazine's history.

Vogue has never sold better than at present (2005's combined circulation was the best annual sale ever) but you can't put Kate or Sienna (Miller, the cover girl of the current, February, edition) on the front every month. In Shulman's view, there is a distinct problem in this regard, in that the new supermodels simply aren't getting through.

"I would really like to find some new cover personalities," she says, when asked her future intentions for Vogue. "When I took over Vogue, models were on the cover. They were highly publicised, they were famous, they were successful. The main models now of the catwalk shows coming out in February, you would not recognise a single name of, and possibly in a year's time they would not be the same girls. Because there's no recognition factor it's much harder to sell magazines with models, so one's using, in the main, actresses. But the amount of actresses, well, it's the same people rolling over on all the main covers and I think it's very tedious."

Shulman says that, even as editor of British Vogue, she can do little to rectify the problem. "It's an industry problem and I think the industry is shooting itself in the foot. I feel quite strongly about this," she says. "I think one of the reasons why Kate Moss has made such a quick re-entry is because people need her. There aren't many models out there who people recognise."

She cites names such as Elise Crombez and Daria Werbowy as the current catwalk stars, names that are familiar to every fashion editor but "mean diddlypoop to the girl on the street".

For young models to grow to a level whereby their names will drive newsstand sales of magazines they need to be around for four or five seasons "to gain a sense of self", says Shulman. This is currently not happening.

The supermodel phenomenon emerged because actresses of a previous generation - the Meryl Streeps and the Jane Fondas - had no desire to be "glamorous clothes horses" and "wanted to be taken more seriously", creating a vacuum for Naomi, Cindy, Linda and the rest.

Shulman recognises that the fashion industry has recoiled from supermodels so powerful that they could call the shots. "When the model at a fashion show becomes more important than the clothes, then that is not healthy," she says. "I think the fashion industry, for some reason, is addicted to the new face."

Not that this dearth of star models has undermined Vogue's circulation. Combined sales in 2005 amounted to the magazine's most successful year ever, with the last ABC coming in at 210,000. This in spite of the emergence of a new competitor, Grazia, launched by Emap with a £16m budget, coming out every week and intended to attract upscale fashion advertising. Shulman is not dismissive of a title that is seen across the magazine industry as a success, but her initial fears of fierce competition have not materialised because sales figures show that "people who were buying Vogue are not buying Grazia instead".

"Before it came on the market, I was concerned about it," she concedes. "Now I see it's a completely different beast and is merely a very polished, celebrity and high street rehash magazine. I think probably they've had to change. Probably what they wanted to do they haven't been able to do. They haven't been able to be the high-end fashion magazine they wanted to be and they've had to fit into a different slot in the market place."

Next month, Shulman will have to contend with the relaunch of Harpers & Queen as Harper's Bazaar. She anticipates that the National Magazine Company will attempt to take some of Vogue's market share but believes the change will be mainly in the name. Not that she is complacent. "Every time there's a new launch, I take it very seriously," she says. "I don't sit at the top of my ivory tower and say: 'We don't have to worry about anyone else.' "

Shulman, 47, is the daughter of the former London Evening Standard theatre critic Milton Shulman and Drusilla Beyfus, the writer and former editor of Brides magazine. She was first published in Vogue while still a student in Brighton, filing a piece on "Sussex style" from a university then still thought of as radical. Her dream, though, was to work in the music business and she went to work in A&R for Arista before being fired five months later.

"I don't think as a personality I was completely ideal for the music business. It was the product I liked," says Shulman, still a regular gig-goer ("Moby at Brixton Academy, John Prine at the Bush").

She entered the world of magazines as a secretary for Shirley Lowe, editor of Over 21. "I really got a sense of what the job was about and the immense pleasure she got. I didn't want to work for magazines particularly, but seeing her I thought: 'Maybe I do.' "

She began to write more and landed a job on Tatler, where she worked with the likes of Craig Brown, Jonathan Meades, Libby Purves and Tina Brown. Her biggest inspiration was the editor Mark Boxer, who at first she didn't get on with. "It was personal reasons. I had known him in another context," she says. "When Mark came to the magazine, his main objective was to make me resign."

Thus Boxer was much pleased with the suggestion in one editorial meeting that Shulman should be assigned to go on a date with one Luis Basualdo, a man-about-town known in Tatler circles simply as "the Bounder". Shulman recalls that it was "literally a piece that changed my life". The pair met at The Ritz, where Basualdo was staying, and then, at the Bounder's suggestion, headed on to Wiltons, the Jermyn Street game restaurant. "It was a good Tatler piece," says Shulman of her article. "No, I don't think I did agree that he was a bounder."

Apart from winning Boxer's admiration, the piece gave Shulman a new confidence which helped her into the world of newspapers, becoming woman's page editor of Peregrine Worsthorne's Sunday Telegraph in 1987.

She was seduced back to magazines by the lure of the features editor's job on Vogue and the glamour of the West End. "I wanted to get away from Canary Wharf, I really hated it," she says of her commute. "Someone took me out to lunch round the corner from here and I had forgotten there was such a thing as a really nice West End restaurant."

She does regret not having lingered in Fleet Street. "I would have liked to have done it for longer. I didn't feel I had done everything I could have done," she says.


But the experience did sharpen her news antennae. "My journalist background has made me aware of the powers of the press and the desire to be part of the dialogue that goes on and to extend it outside the fashion industry," she says. "I think publicity helps us a lot. We don't really have a big marketing judgement and you can see a direct correlation between publicity in the newspapers and sales trajectory. Last year when we photographed [Wayne Rooney's girlfriend] Coleen McLoughlin, it was a good story and I was pleased with it, but if we hadn't had the intense newspaper coverage we did, not many people would have known it was there."

Her rise at Vogue was interrupted by the opportunity to edit another Condé Nast title, GQ. Shulman, who takes her young son to QPR matches, had no problem running a men's magazine and was much liked by her staff. She may have had "no idea" whether a piece about Formula 1 was accurate, but she knew if it was interesting.


"My GQ didn't have women on the cover, it was much more steeped in the traditions of the old Esquire," she says. "It's much more racy now and more commercial, but the tone isn't different, there's still a quite humorous, intelligent tone."

Shulman's Vogue, she hopes, is "a magazine of record of contemporary culture and style". But just as she is frustrated by the lack of new cover stars, she complains that there are "too few good writers".


She is an instinctive editor ("I will make decisions very much on the hoof") and has held the competition at bay for more than a decade. It's not a bad life. "You can't possibly do it all. Are you going to the big exhibition at the Tate, or the book launch or the launch of the new Armani fragrance? Every night there is all of that happening. Sometimes I love it, you get to dip into all those worlds and by the end of the night you think: 'God, I've met so many people,' " she says.


Even the long-running arguments over her magazine's use of skinny teenage models or fur coats give her a thrill from being at the centre of debate.


"Vogue gets a lot of publicity and what we do people pay attention to, so consequently we are a sitting duck when someone wants to fill a column with a quick paragraph. I would prefer it that way," she says. "It's the thing that has kept me here this long, the fact that people do pay attention and it does have a power. That's a fantastic thing to have."
btw.i hope mod can change the title into Editor-in-Chief,British Vogue

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10-02-2008
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Source | The Observer (UK) | Sunday February 10, 2008

Quote:
The world according to garb Vogue is the UK's glossiest and most successful fashion magazine. But what's it really like behind the scenes, asks Lynn Barber

Before Christmas, I found myself sharing a sofa with Alexandra Shulman at a party and thought, 'Now is my chance to solve one of the great mysteries of life, the conundrum that has been bugging me for years.' So I said, 'Alex, tell me, because you will know - what is it with handbags?' I hoped she could explain how and why women suddenly became prepared to pay ludicrous amounts of money - as much as a car sometimes - for ugly shapeless bits of tat with fringes and buckles and studs and straps made from the hides of obviously diseased animals. Do men find them attractive? Do they think, 'Oh look, she's got a floppy pock-marked yellow one with studs on - I really fancy her? 'Dunno,' said Alexandra. 'Beats me.'

'But you're the editor of Vogue!'

'Yep. It's still a mystery.'

This is what is always so startling about Alex Shulman: she is the editor of Vogue but she's completely normal. She is not remotely like Miranda Priestly, the editor in The Devil Wears Prada, or indeed like Anna Wintour, the editor of American Vogue. She is a 50-year-old divorcee who lives in Queen's Park, takes her 12-year-old son Sam to QPR matches, spends Saturdays trawling the Portobello Road, enjoys cooking big suppers for friends and talking about almost anything except fashion. She says it is a vile slur that she reads books during fashion shows, but admits that she does always take a book to fill the long gaps between shows and gets a lot of reading done during London Fashion Week.

Her partner is the journalist David Jenkins whom I remember as a crazed youth on Penthouse who could be relied upon to deliver brilliant copy several months late. Their friends tend to be other journalists, writers, artists, many of whom Alex has known since her twenties. She admits that she is 'probably the only person I know who didn't spend most of their twenties completely out of their heads. 'I hate spas. And treatments. All these places keep offering me a complimentary massage and it's very kind of them but there is nothing I want less. I'm a real hedonist but not for spas - I like sunbathing, I like food, I like alcohol, I like cigs, and for holidays I like staying with a pack of friends.' Not exactly the Vogue lifestyle, then? 'No, probably not, but I mean I used to edit GQ and my life then wasn't about Formula-1 cars, or pin-up girls. I don't think actually as an editor you have to lead the life you write about.'

She does the job, but she is not defined by her job: she will not have editor of Vogue on her gravestone. She still thinks of herself as a journalist rather than a fashion maven. She doesn't even dress particularly fashionably. At her best - with her wonderful dark eyes, dark hair, imperious carriage - she can look like Isabella Rossellini, but at her worst she worries about 'looking like an awful old fortune-teller'. She is five foot four with a curvaceous figure that is size 12 on a good day, size 14 on a bad one. A friend once described her style as hippie chic, but more hippie than chic. I told her boss, Stephen Quinn, that when I first knew her she was quite a scruff and he winced. 'Never a scruff! Perhaps more bohemian. I personally have noted a seismic shift because she dresses with great panache, there is a sort of grandeur to her.' Even so, she falls far short of immaculate. Her hair is often a mess, her fingernails unmanicured, stray buttons missing. One day at Vogue House I noticed her wearing a very blodgy purple T-shirt and she said proudly that she'd dyed it herself. I bet Anna Wintour has never dyed a T-shirt in her life. But Alex's answer to anyone who says she doesn't look like the editor of Vogue is essentially the same as Gloria Steinem's when told she didn't look 50 - 'This is what 50 looks like'. Likewise Alex - she is the editor of Vogue, so this is what the editor of Vogue looks like. Get used to it.

Moreover she is a supremely successful editor of Vogue, having seen the circulation climb steadily from 170,000 when she started in 1992 to over 220,000 now. She was rewarded with the OBE in 2005. But a lot of people in the fashion world were shocked when she first got the job. Who was she? They knew she was the daughter of two famous journalists (Drusilla Beyfus and Milton Shulman) and a good journalist herself but she had never worked as a fashion editor; she had never even been to the collections. Her previous job was editor of GQ - before that she worked at Tatler and as women's editor of the Sunday Telegraph. The day before she started at Vogue her sister Nicola (who is now the Marchioness of Normanby) took Alex to Browns and made her buy a suit - 'I remember it was a Lolita Lempicka with shoulder pads and zips all over it. I suppose I thought this is what an editor of Vogue wears!' But she didn't even think about what to wear for her first collections because it never occurred to her that anyone would be looking at her. Surely she can't have been so naive? She says now she realises that of course everyone would be inspecting her but at the time she didn't give it a thought.

I said I wanted to interview her. She said no - but I could come and hang around at Vogue and watch them preparing the March issue, and no doubt someone would be able to elucidate the mystery of handbags. In the event I never did solve the mystery of handbags - I got sidetracked by shoes, which are getting very weird indeed - but I enjoyed my little foray into the epicentre of fashion. It is a surprisingly cramped office on the sixth floor of Vogue House filled with beautiful white orchids and beautiful white girls.

They all wear 'interesting' shoes or boots but nothing I could identify as a Vogue uniform. I expected it to be like The Devil Wears Prada or Ugly Betty with everyone bitching about everyone else, but there was not even a hint of that. Later, I told Alex I was disappointed by the general lack of bitchiness and she laughed, 'I'm sorry about that! But this is not a bitchy office. It can be tense, it can be competitive, it can be weepy sometimes when you have a lot of women in one office and people get stressed, all that, but it's not bitchy. I don't like people who are bitchy so I probably don't hire them.'

Lucinda Chambers, one of the two fashion directors, has been at Vogue since the Seventies when the terrifying Beatrix Miller still ruled. She remembers once asking Miss Miller (she was always Miss Miller) why there were all these girls weeping in the loos and Miss Miller barked 'Healthy competition!' She ruled by fear. But Alex, says Lucinda, is not like that. 'She's not lovey-dovey but she is completely straight. I think she's fair, but bloody firm.' Alex says her staff all think she's grumpy and Lucinda confirms it but adds, 'We tell her often enough.' Stephen Quinn the publishing director says, 'I always tease her that her staff are more scared of her than mine are of me. She has that grand authority.'

The first couple of editorial meetings I went to were baffling because I couldn't understand who or what anyone was talking about - it took a while to click that Mario was Testino and Kate was Moss and Uma was Thurman and Karl was Lagerfeld. There was much suspense about Sheherazade's floorboards - would they arrive in time? This turned out to be Sheherazade Goldsmith whose new house they were meant to be photographing but apparently it still lacked floorboards and, as Alex remarked, it is quite difficult to photograph rooms without floors. This problem was still unresolved when I left and I have occasionally caught myself wondering, 'Has poor Sheherazade got her floorboards yet?' There was also discussion of a make-up feature in which someone asked anxiously, 'Are we using real people?' 'Yes, but real beautiful people,' soothed Emily Sheffield, the deputy editor, an outstandingly beautiful person herself.

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continued...

Quote:
Alex suggested I should go on a shoot. I volunteered to go to Peru with Mario Testino or to New York with photographer Craig McDean and Kate Moss, but Alex dispatched me instead to Kentish Town where photographer Jane McLeish Kelsey was shooting Three Ways with a Swirly Skirt. Pippa Holt, who was in charge of the shoot, explained that swirly skirts will be big in the high street next season, but readers need help in learning how to wear them, so they get three stylists to do three different 'looks'. She says that features like this 'balance out the well' which, after some translation, means they provide useful ideas for real people as opposed to the 'inspirational' features in the middle of the magazine (the well) which tend to show girls dressed as fairies pulling logs with reindeers. 'Alex,' Pippa tells me, 'has a big focus on real women.'

The shoot itself was unexpectedly real and domestic, with a toddler playing on the floor (he was the son of one of the stylists, Bay Garnett) and a pale silent girl reading Hemingway's Fiesta in Russian - she turned out to be the model. There was also a big burly man who just sat on the sofa doing nothing, so eventually I asked what his role was. 'I'm with the jewels.' What? He showed me a Chanel box containing a star that looked to my untutored eye like a Christmas-tree decoration but turned out to be a platinum-and-diamond brooch costing £171,750 - he was its bodyguard. He said he often went to shoots carrying literally millions of pounds worth of jewellery. 'They must trust you a lot,' I told him, but privately I was thinking, 'There'd be no point in stealing a brooch like that because no one would ever believe it was genuine.'

Kate Phelan, the fashion director, was doing one of the ways with a swirly skirt - 'a kind of Minnie Mouse look inspired by Miu Miu' (me neither) - but told me she was off to the States next week to shoot the Kate Moss cover and then on to the California desert to shoot another feature near Palm Springs. She said the Palm Springs shoot should be relatively easy because it never rains and they have a local producer to show them locations but it would still be a rush. Nowadays, she says, fashion trips are terribly short because top photographers and models are in such demand. When she started 20 years ago, you could potter round with a couple of models and a photographer for a week or even a fortnight, but nowadays it's usually one day to fix locations and two days to shoot, and if it rains you're in deep trouble.

She suggests I come to the 'rail meeting' when she shows Alex all the clothes she has assembled for New York. The rail is in a dark corner of the office and looks like something from an Oxfam shop - what is more exciting is the sea of shoes spreading out from the rail and all round the office - weird and wonderful shoes with heels carved like ships' figureheads or skyscrapers. Alex confides later that she hates these tortured heels but they are the new look. On the whole, she says, she leaves the choice of clothes to her fashion editors but she does demand to see 'the rail' before every shoot, and she is upset this time because the Chloé outfits she thinks might make the cover are already in New York. 'I hate using clothes I haven't seen,' she frets.

The theme of this particular 'story' is clothes inspired by paintings - a theme Alex spotted in the September shows in Paris, Milan, New York and wanted to focus on, 'mainly because it's very beautiful'. She shows me a Gucci dress that she says is 'almost like a Jackson Pollock' and a Prada skirt and top printed with 'something like Edward Dulac or Rackham in this techy fabric'. Tacky fabric? I ask, bewildered. 'No, techy - it's a new sort of organza.' The problem with the painterly theme is that Chanel and Dior don't have any clothes that fit the bill and both are big advertisers. Kate Phelan has brought a leopardskin print dress from Dior but Alex says flatly, 'No leopardskin'. So they both go through the Dior look book (catalogue) in search of other clothes that could be called painterly and decide that a spotted dress will do.

What shocks me is that many of the clothes on the rail are quite grubby - some of them are even torn. Apparently these designer samples go from magazine to magazine, location to location, getting staler all the time. I can't see why fashion houses don't run up some more samples but apparently they don't, so one of the many problems of organising a shoot is that you have to book the clothes, as well as the photographer and models, and return them on the due date on pain of death.

The clothes are all size 10 but Kate Moss 'can fit anything'. Apparently she even has 'miracle feet' that can wear any shoe size. But Alex is a bit worried about her hair. 'Does she still have the fringe? I don't mind the fringe but I don't want her hair scraped back.' She also tells Phelan not to let Kate look 'too boudoir. Keep that coolness about her, not too overtly sexy.' (A couple of weeks later, I see the photos of Kate Moss in the art room and exclaim rudely, 'God, she looks awful.' She has a sort of Mia Farrow or pottery-teacher hairdo and looks dead-eyed and desiccated. The art room goes into shock until Robin Derrick the creative director murmurs, 'Of course we haven't done any retouching yet'.)

I ask Alex if Kate Moss is always a safe bet for a cover? 'Nobody's a safe bet, but a famous model helps.' One of her problems, she says, is that there are so few superstar models now. In the good old days you could take your pick of Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Helena Christensen and a dozen others but now - although there are plenty of good models who are well-respected in the fashion industry - their names mean nothing to the public. They work so hard, they don't seem to have any life outside modelling.

The other problem, Alex explains, is that top models and photographers earn so much more from advertising that they only do the editorial shoots they want to do - they are not the obedient puppets they used to be. For the March issue, for instance, she wanted to do a 'hippie nomad' story that could easily have been shot in Morocco, but Mario Testino wanted to go to Peru (because he is Peruvian) so Peru it was. Testino told me later that he always does his best work in Peru - and indeed the pictures are stunning.

Lucinda Chambers, the fashion editor on the shoot, said going to Peru with Testino was 'like the return of the Sun King' - they worship him there.

Going to Peru cost a packet - but then Vogue can afford a packet. Alex said I would have to ask Stephen Quinn (of Kimberly fame) about the money side because he is the publishing director. He said of course he couldn't give exact figures because Condé Nast is a private company, owned by the Newhouse family, but 'profitability has never been higher. British Vogue is the most profitable magazine in the company, outside the US, by far.' It ran 2,020 pages of advertising last year (60 per cent of the magazine is advertising) and advertising rates can be as high as £22,000 a page, though the average is more like £16,000. Which, if my calculator is correct, means they made over £32 million from advertising last year. The cover price of £3.80 probably pays for the production costs. Anyway, it's a rich magazine that doesn't have to worry about where the next airfare is coming from (and they usually manage to do deals on air fares anyway) though one staffer did confide that there was a bit of a fuss when they managed to incur a £14,000 excess-baggage charge on a trip to Papua New Guinea.

But this high dependence on advertising makes for what seems to me a shocking cosiness between editorial and advertising. Newspapers are always careful to keep a firewall between the two, but Vogue has an 'executive fashion editor' whose job is to check that advertisers get sufficient editorial mentions to keep them happy, and Alex has to apologise if they get left out - 'I seem to spend my whole life apologising!' she laughs.

'But Vogue makes most of its money out of advertising - and it does make an awful lot of money - so we've got to have a good relationship with our advertisers. They're not going to place £100,000 a year and then say, "Feel free not to use any of our goods" - life's not like that. So although there is this feeling sometimes that creatively it's not pure, well - magazines are a business, you're not sitting there writing poetry.'

She added that that was why she wanted me to come to Vogue - to see the constant juggling act her job entailed. 'I hope you will have seen by now that it's quite complex what we do here, quite dense. I think people tend to think, "Oh well Vogue's got lots of money so they just say, 'Go off and shoot some pretty clothes and give us the pics'", but it's not quite like that.' No, I can see that, and I can also see why Condé Nast felt they needed a strong editor, rather than a fashion expert, at the helm.

But I do still wonder whether Alex finds it fulfilling? 'Oh it's certainly fulfilling, there's no question about that. Sometimes I walk down the road and I think, how lucky can you be?' But other days she thinks maybe she should be at home with her son, maybe she should be writing a book. She is still not quite of the fashion world and admits that, even after 16 years, she has few or no designer friends. 'They're not soulmates. But then we're not there to be friends,' she says bracingly. 'I suppose in a way I compartmentalise my life. I do the job and I edit Vogue and I feel I'm very professional, but I'm not that emotional about it. The rest of my life I'm extremely emotional about, but I don't bring that into the office. And I suppose some people find that quite difficult, they don't understand how I can do that, but it's the only way I could do this job, because I do have very much another life of friends and family and things I like doing and that's what I define myself by - I don't define myself as editor of Vogue.

Which is lucky because a lot of my life I wasn't editor of Vogue and hopefully I will have another life after being editor of Vogue.'

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16-04-2008
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She's a fantastic editor. British Vogue blows away American Vogue.

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she's sooo boring... And so is her magazine.

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^
I do agree, with some issues that she lets out. *cough*july 08*cough*

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28-08-2008
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Way better than American Vogue. American Vogue never seems original. I find myself thinking haven't I seen that in *insert a european vogue title*


Alexandra Shulman is amazing

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^agree..

don't forget this legendary editorial was published under her reign..she's a a good judge and finder of talents..

June 1993
Under-exposure
Photographer:Corinne Day
Stylist:Cathy Kasterine
Model:Kate Moss

from katemosscollection.com



and i noticed that there're more female contributer photographers than the other magazines...corinne day,venetia scott,emma summerton,karen collins,liz collins,kelly klein(in the 90's)...

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^ Thanks for the agreement!

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does she go to fashion shows like Carine and Anna?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by vogue28 View Post
does she go to fashion shows like Carine and Anna?
rarely i think..at style.com there are only two frontrow pics about her , 4 or 5 pics about lucinda chambers(fashion director of british vogue),and none about kate phelan(another fashion director)!

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thanks for the info.
In my view I think an editor of a magazine like Vogue should attend fashion shows, but I supose she does a good job without

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