Alexandra Shulman's witty and wonderful diary of putting together the excellent centenary issue of British Vogue was well worth the wait. I loved it from start to finish. Shulman expertly wove personal vignettes into the story of Vogue, and shared her take on famous faces, without descending into gossip or putting anyone down. Inspiring and interesting for anyone who has ever picked up a copy of the magazine!
Engaging writing and an interesting topic -- not only about the 100th anniversary of British Vogue and the preparations for the commemorative issue but a day to day look at the process of putting together a monthly magazine.
I was predisposed to like Alexandra Shulman not only because I was such a fan of her father (Milton Shulman, the late, great theatre critic of the London Evening Standard) but also because, some years ago, she wrote a lovely warm letter of encouragement to my daughter then trying to launch her career as a shoe designer. How wonderful to have Ms Shulman’s niceness and generosity of spirit confirmed in this, her diary of Vogue’s centenary year.
It’s a tricky thing to write about the fripperies and flounces of the fashion industry and not make the reader wince with the triviality of it all, especially when compared to the serious issues of our day. Whilst Alexandra Shulman would be the first to acknowledge this, she also recognises the importance of the fashion industry to British trade and she sets her scenes within the political context of the times – in this case, 2015 and the build-up to the EU referendum. She balances the day-to-day difficulties of running of the UK’s fashion bible with the particular pressures of the centenary issue: the Vogue Festival and the gala dinners with famous names who accept invitations and then let her down at the last minute, a prestigious exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, the excitement of the secret front cover – and all the while being filmed for a BBC2 documentary about the magazine (an experience she definitely did *not* enjoy).
Ms Shulman brings into her diary just the right amount of home life and the challenge of achieving the perfect ‘work-life balance’. (Impossible, of course.) She conveys her hopes and fears with humility, and her successes and her disappointments with good grace. She comes across as very honest about herself: the bad dream the night before giving an important after-dinner speech: “It’s sad that my subconscious is so clichéd.” Her love of grey jumpers and her terrible fear of flying (I’m with her on both of those). Her genuine appreciation not only of her team but also the many talented people she comes into contact with. She gives the reader real insight into how a monthly magazine like Vogue functions and she does so in such a likeable way. As you can probably tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this account and just now seeing her interviewed on television having resigned from the editorship after 25 years, I sincerely wish her well.