Alexandra Shulman the longest serving Editor-in Chief of British Vogue has, after a glorious twenty-five-year long reign, stepped down from her throne.
After some brief encounters with the music business, Shulman started her career in fashion journalism at The Tatler in 1982, working under Vogue’s publisher Condé Nast. In 1987, she joined Sunday Telegraph, originally starting out as editor of the fashion section but then requested to move to deputy editor of current affairs. She took her first step in Vogue in 1988 as features editor before joining GQ as editor in 1990. In 1992, she took on the great challenge of bringing Vogue into the millennium.
“I won’t tell women they need surgery or diets to be attractive.”
Shulman has resided at the helm of Vogue for over a quarter of its existence and in her reign, the magazine has seen monthly readership climb to over a million. Her tenure at Vogue has not always been smooth sailing. During the early 1990’s heroin-chic era, Vogue was heavily criticised for its portrayal of the waifish Kate Moss. This became part of the larger debate over the fashion industry’s presentation of unrealistic body ideals for young women and their contribution to the rise in eating disorders.
However, Shulman is very aware of the power and responsibility that comes with producing a fashion magazine and has made it very clear the stance of Vogue on body issues. She stated in an interview that “I won’t tell women they need surgery or diets to be attractive.”
Through her reign, Shulman has been part of the most iconic Vogue covers in its running, and perhaps the most iconic covers in fashion journalism history. In the October 1997 issue, Vogue paid tribute to the late Princess of Wales, Diana, in a beautiful, simplistic cover.
Do not underestimate the power of simplicity. The simplicity of Kate Moss’s silhouette makes the memorable December 2000 issue, ‘The Gold Issue’, a collector’s favourite.
In the January 2002 issue, the incredible Mario Testino captured all of Britain’s leading models dressed in union jack styled clothing. With the likes of Erin O’Connor, Naomi Campbell, Elizabeth Jagger, Jade Parfitt and Kate Moss, the cover demonstrated the strength of the British within the fashion industry.
Vogue has never just been about fashion; Adele’s September 2011 cover proves that. A personal favourite of mine, this issue celebrated the most unique, influential and successful British women giving readers, like me, so many incredible role models.
Alexandra Shulman has handled the role of British Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief with style and grace. She will be sorely missed.