I’ve had a hectic week, and I know every professional working woman in the world utters those words atleast once a day. Sometimes I struggle to understand how I manage to survive an entire week of work/internship/blog management/feeding of the husband/washing of the clothes etc. etc, and I’m usually exhausted by Tuesday lunchtime. Last week, though, was one of the more ‘crazy’ weeks. In a deflated, and emotionally unstable state, I woke up on Thursday morning to an email from my mother-in-law, to inform me that Alexandra Shulman had announced that she would be stepping down as editor-in-chief of British Vogue. This, almost literally, pushed me over the edge.
Ever since I could earn my own money (and thanks to the staff discount I took complete advantage of during my first summer job in the local WHSmiths) I have been reading British Vogue. Aside from the year prior to our wedding, where I switched my subscription from one Condé Nast publication to another (Brides magazine is incredible, by the way, for any brides to be out there. Specifically if you’re an admirer of style, and not just butterfly shaped place cards and the ‘naked cake’ trend), I doubt I’ve ever missed an issue.
Whilst I spent those first few years, prior to studying for a BA in Communication, Culture and Media at Coventry University, not really acknowledging the content of the magazine, it was during the time of being a cash strapped student that I really started to appreciate the written content of the numerous articles in British Vogue. When you can’t afford a lot, an investment in a magazine costing £4 per month seems a little frivolous. Especially when a bottle of Strongbow only cost, on average, £1.50. This meant that I really had to get my moneys worth out of this publication, and I would literally read it from cover to cover. I would even study the collage of non-affiliated product advertisements which littered the back page, looking for outfit inspiration.
The content of the magazine has stayed with me, well into my adult life, and was part of the reasoning behind the conception of my blog. As an adult, I sometimes struggle to find the time to devote to reading every single article, but I purchase a print copy as soon as it hits newsstands. I have always been an advocate of style, but the written word is also a major contribution towards my outlook on fashion, and so where there is style (in my sense of the word), there must be substance.
I feel so fortunate to have lived during a time where Alexandra Shulman has stood at the healm of this great British powerhouse. Since being appointed in 1992, a mere three years after I was born, Shulman has shifted the nations perception of the British supplement of the Vogue family, from fashion journal, to well respected consideration of all that encompasses Great British Style.
Yes, British women (and let us not forget the well dressed men of our nation) dress impeccably well. Edgy, a little undone, with an almost androgynous tone, and with great attention to simplistic detailing. We are also smart, reserved, opinionated and composed. We are, in comparison to other nations, the most complicated of women. British Vogue, under Shulman’s diligent eye, has always assisted and respected this British way, and have published numerous articles which compliment our hectic lives. Articles with the nations most covered celebrities are well mannered, and non-offensive. British Vogue is never probing or distasteful, and relevant topics are well presented and considered.
The difference between Shulman and the magazines previous editors? Her sense of beauty has never been solely based on the conformity of the high end fashion world. She is famously supportive of the arts (she is a trustee of the National Portrait gallery, where Vogue commissioned an exhibition, in celebration of the publications centenary year. This exhibition was heavily produced by Shulman herself), and is known to be incredibly inclusive of emerging designers. When questioned about the body image of the younger generation, her opinion on the excessively thin models used in acclaimed fashion publications is that of anger and exasperation.
Although she can sometimes come across as oppressive (almost to the point of being slightly moody), this has always shown that she is a real person, and anyone who considers their emotion whilst working in an incredibly tense and forever changing atmosphere, must be as real as they come. Yes, the terrifying Wintour effect, as portayed numerous times through pop culture, is undeniably exhilarating and entertaining, the more diplomatic persona of Shulman is what stands British Vogue apart from all others.
She is, quite rightly, a little less welcoming of the media frenzy which can come with such a powerful position, but she has always come across as well mannered and respectful when appearing in the public eye. Since my interest in Alexandra Shulman began, back when I gave myself the time to consider a vocation in fashion, I have always prayed for more media managed information around Shulman; her life, her career goals, her personal attributes, but I have recently been more respectful of her for keeping her private life private. In a world of fast fashion, where every detail of everyone’s life is perceived as perfection, through social media and updated technology (I must admit, the more truthful reason as to why I may not always find the time to actually read the magazine, is due to the fact that I have the Vogue App, which delivers updates straight to my phone, as if I were receiving a Tesco online delivery notification!) it is somewhat refreshing and allusive to be in admiration of such a private person.
I, for one, am absolutely devastated to consider a time where Shulman will not be at the forefront of the only fashion publication I ever purchase. For my generation, we have literally never known anything different, and for so long, British Vogue has felt like home to me. I am so hopeful for Shulman’s future. She is tirelessly hardworking (which is part of the reason I have always admired her so much, the last of the working women in fashion who hasn’t hired a brand manager) and she has achieved so many brilliant things. For now, though, my only aim is to accept the fact that I will never, one day, get to work for British Vogue, under editor-in-chief, Alexandra Shulman, and that is quite some statement to make.