Editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman has been the brains behind British Vogue since 1992, the longest and most successful position in a career history that includes stints at Tatler, The Sunday Telegraph and GQ.
She’s been credited with upping the editorial content of Vogue UK, focusing more on fashion journalism than photoshoots, and firmly maintains the opinion that her work should speak louder than her appearance. The circulation of the magazine has increased by 20,000 during her tenure as editor.
Here are 10 things you might not have heard about Vogue UK’s longest standing editor:
1. She has written two novels; “Can We Still Be Friends?”, in 2012; a story about three friends set in the eighties, and “The Parrots”, in 2015; a satirical family drama, set in the world of London’s elite.
2. Shulman was awarded an OBE in 2005 for “services to the magazine industry”. Not everyone was impressed – Janet Street-Porter said it made “an embarrassment” of the honours system.
3. She suffers from a paralyzing fear of flying, which almost prevented her from accepting her role at Vogue, as she knew the position would involve a lot of travel. Before starting at Vogue, Shulman hadn’t flown in 10 years, but successfully treated her phobia through regressive hypnotherapy, although she admits she’s still a very nervous flyer.
4. Shulman has been criticised by many because she’s not as polished as some other high profile figures in the fashion industry and doesn’t “look like the editor of Vogue”. She shrugs off the comments, reminding those who question her that her background is in journalism, not fashion. “I made a decision very early on that editing Vogue couldn’t be about what I wore,” she says.
5. It’s not only in terms of fashion sense that Shulman differs from her counterpart at American Vogue, Anna Wintour. While Wintour has a reputation for being cold and strong-minded, Shulman is seen as more of a mother figure. She recounts an occasion when she allowed filmmakers to make a documentary film at Vogue UK headquarters (after years of denying such requests) only for them to find everyone “so nice and well-behaved and boring that they gave up.”
6. Despite having a reputation as not being super fashionable, Shulman says that she does love to buy clothes, and her wardrobe is about as full of designer items as you might expect. She does however prefer buying items for her home, rather than herself. She most enjoys shopping at Golborne Road and Portobello markets and thinks London is the best city in the world for shopping.
7. She studied Social Anthropology at Sussex University but didn’t enjoy the academic life and left to work as a secretary in the music industry
8. In 2009 Shulman wrote a letter to Prada, Versace and other big fashion houses, complaining that their sample sizes were too small, forcing Vogue and other fashion magazines to use unhealthily thin models. Despite this firm opinion, she does claim that people don’t want to see “normal” people on the front of a magazine as they can get that for free by looking in the mirror.
9. Her favourite designers include British labels Erdem, Christopher Kane and JW Anderson and she advises on Hermès or Chanel for investment pieces.
10. Shulman’s Fashion Week essentials include two iPods (one for running and another for travel), Manolo Blahnik shoes, and Rescue Remedy.