Picture a room of over 100 rowdy fashion students being brought to absolute silence by one woman’s entrance into the room, and that is what you get when Alexandra Shulman, Editor in Chief of British Vogue, enters a university lecture hall. A vision in emerald green, Alexandra filled the room with an air of plentiful wisdom, awe and burning curiosity.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to bask in the presence of one of my fashion/career/bad ass female idols. I can report it goes as follows: lost for words, heart racing, pen glued to hand, 13 pages of notes taken.
I feel the world has created a certain character assumption for an Editor in Chief of a fashion magazine. Whether it’s Devil Wears Prada or Ugly Betty, we are misleadingly left to assume they’re all overly fierce, shallow, have a messy personal life, and wear sunglasses all the time. Well Alexandra Shulman is the opposite; in fact, I was taken aback by her humility. When asked about her role as the magazine’s head, she simply replied, “It’s Vogue that has the power rather than the individual running it,” citing herself as the mere caretaker of the brand, responsible for its preservation. Her main goal as EIC is to make sure Vogue is a “faithful chronicler of our time” and that it maintains its integrity as a publication. While she may be a real tycoon in the industry, as she confessed to having a bad memory with a little chuckle, or felt she had to reassure us of her love for fashion, I couldn’t help but think how real she is. To have such power and influence and yet be such a down to earth soul is a true feat. Even as a Vogue EIC she was relatable announcing, “I’m not one for plans” – neither am I!
Furthermore, she is a woman for women with a strong belief in uplifting and empowering. As she mused about there being “no one definition of style,” her ideology rang true. Her open mindedness to equality, diversity, and variety in fashion is truly inspiring, recognising that it is “damaging” to think only women in celebrity cultures can be interested and celebrated in the industry. Under her leadership, British Vogue has published its first ever ‘Real Issue,’ an issue in which all the shoots featured with everyday women instead of models; while the previous month you may have seen Gigi Hadid, this time it was a forensic scientist wearing the Gucci! It was sad to hear that their readership didn’t react very well to this, but the fact Shulman went ahead and published an issue with such a powerful message anyways, is just what fashion needs. Honestly, as she sat there and exclaimed the words “I hate that term, plus-size!” I think I may have shed a tear.
Equality, diversity, and self-love are issues we take great pride in covering here at Couturesque, because it’s no secret those qualities are lacking in the fashion industry. So we’re very glad to know that British Vogue gets us. It’s important for powerhouse publications to recognise these issues and campaign for change, and I take great comfort in knowing British Vogue has such a real, forward thinking woman at its helm. I can safely say, the industry needs more leaders like Alexandra Shulman.