Inside Vogue by Alexandra Schulman
Opening sentence: ‘Three nights ago, in a restaurant by the sea, just off a coastal road in Puglia, some children at the long family tables next to ours were playing with their pencil cases, lining up the coloured felt tips in order.’
How strange that the day that I finish reading Alexandra Schulman’s diary of her 2015/2016 year, released to commemorate her journey creating and organising the British Vogue centenary issue (plus the exhibition and events that go along with it) she announces that she is stepping down, after 25 years, as the editor of British Vogue.
When I read the news, it shocked me, as her diary left me with a sense that she was a supremely passionate and driven woman when it came to her job and that she still was very much dedicated to it, she references how she is excited to sink her teeth into the next project now that the centenary planning is over, “in all, the two days (of the Vogue festival) have made me determined to think of a really good new project for Vogue.”
However, maybe there were little clues in this book, she constantly had sleepless nights worrying about details and budgets and deadlines, and after 25 years, that must get a bit tiresome. As pure speculation, it could be that in getting HRH Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge to appear on the cover of Vogue for said centenary issue, she felt that she had taken her editorship of Vogue as far as she could or wanted to, maybe it just didn’t have the same thrill after that.
Alexandra managed to pull off an extremely-secret shoot with the Duchess, not even telling a majority of her staff and creating fake content for the centenary issue to replace with the pictures of the Duchess at the very last minute. In a practically unheard of move in this digital age, the pictures did not leak before launch and everyone – myself included was astounded and super-pleased to see the Duchess on the cover. Alexandra’s account of the shoot also gave a glimpse into how the Duchess acts when working and not in full glare of the media, which I found fascinating.
I really enjoyed reading about the workings of the magazine and all the fabulous people – from photographers to designers, celebrities and royalty, that Alexandra mixed with on a daily basis, it was a wonderful peek into a world that on the outside looks so slick but you realise contains just as much of the daily grind as most jobs.
This was also a pretty honest account, she did not try to portray herself as the perfect person, she snaps at people and gets pissed off and offended and some people, she just doesn’t really like, and she writes that all down. Now it is an account of her final years at Vogue and a must-read as both a cultural reference and a tantalising insight into the life of a brilliant editor.