All of a sudden this post has become rather current. Last week I spent an interesting evening at the excellent Kings Place in Londons King Cross listening to the editor of Vogue Alexandra Schulman in conversation with Miriam Gonzales Durantez. They were there to discuss Shulman’s book ‘Inside Vogue: A Diary of My 100th Year’. Yesterday Alexandra Schulman announced she would be standing down as editor of Vogue after a 25 year tenure. I can assure you friends, she gave no clue to this last week, even when asked how she continued to keep interested and excited in fashion after so long! Although this probably isn’t surprising from a woman who was able to hide the fact that the Duchess of Cambridge was going to be on the cover of the 100th edition of Vogue from her whole team.
But I digress. Now I don’t know about you, but anything with Vogue in the title is always going to make me feel a little bit scared, a bit intimidated and more than likely badly dressed. So I must confess giving a bit more thought to my threads than perhaps I normally would for a ‘bookish’ event. I went with slightly mismatched quirky icorporating a hint of sparkle in the hope it would cover all bases. Predictably the audience was predominantly female although there were a few men, who I’m guessing mostly worked in fashion. Although I did spot one lone fleece wearing gentleman husband. Brave but unforgivable. Fleece and vogue are two words which should never appear in the same sentence and certainly not the same room. I should also point out here, this was also the most fragrant audience I have ever been part of. The air was permeated with the delightful aroma of summer meadows and english gardens. Delightful. I work in a hospital, I’m very attuned to smells.
For those with even the vaguest interest in fashion or media it was fairly difficult not to realise that Vogue was celebrating its 100th year last year. There was a TV show lots of media coverage and now the afore mentioned book written by Alexandra Schulman.
As you might imagine Alexandra and Miriam were beautifully dressed, killer heels and lots of colour. Alexandra was displaying a pleasingly slightly unkempt hair do. Reassuring to us mere mortals for whom smooth locks seem unattainable. She did in fact refer at one point to her dislike of being made up and her usual ‘bed head’ hair.
Of course it was interesting hearing Shulman talk about a year which had been one of the busiest and probably stressful of her life. She described her self as being “too anxious to feel happy, and engaged but never content” which I though was a little sad. What was perhaps more interesting was listening to her discuss her career in general, the challenge of juggling many balls and the reality of being woman at the top. “You can’t have it all”. A useful message perhaps for todays women who are convinced they can, and consequently have minimal time to enjoy anything, work, home or otherwise. Other useful advice was ‘give yourself a break’ and ‘get help’!
Schulman came to Vogue as a journalist. She claims to have not been particularly interested in fashion initially, that came later. She had seen Vogue as a magazine which published great articles. Despite this she clearly has an eye for fashion or what makes fashion, as the magazine has flourished under her leadership. Vogue is known for its covers, the covers are the packaging, which draws the reader in said Shulman, so they need to be right. She admits she hasn’t always got it right but she has produced many memorable covers. Kate Moss has of course featured heavily over the years, but persuading the Duchess of Cambridge to appear on the 100th edition cover was perhaps her grand finale and will of course now be part of her legacy.
The book that came out of the 100th year is Shulmans diary. She wrote it because she has a terrible memory and she wanted to remember the detail of that year. Miriam asked her how amongst the craziness of her life during that year she found the time. She replied she got up extra early and wrote notes during the day. Does that sound familiar to anyone? It does to me!
Of course I came away with a copy of the book. It had been on my wish list anyway and everyone needs a little January pick me up. I have started it, I’m loving it and will of course review it here soon. I’m reliably informed it is very insightful, and of course I have been scanning the index to see who gets a mention.
Alexandra and Miriam were an interesting paring, Both clearly intelligent, articulate successful women, although from very different professional backgrounds. For some, Miriam may be known primarily as Nick Clegg’s wife. As was pointed out in the introduction she is a highly successful woman in her own right, who just that morning had been on the BBC news discussing trade law and the economic impact of Brexit. She also clearly knows something about the fashion industry or had indeed done her homework. Whichever is true it was an illuminating and entertaining evening. It must also be noted, Miriam also used the work ‘shenanigans’ during the interview. Top marks.