The Changing Face of British Vogue | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

The Changing Face of British Vogue

Life&Style writer Tara Kergon looks at how British Vogue is set to change after the departure of editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman

It seems that more than summer is in the air at British Vogue this season, as not one but three of its most long-standing, respected and renowned figures are about to step down from the limelight of running the most high-profile fashion magazine in the country. Only last year Vogue celebrated 100 years of publication in a whirlwind of festivals, exhibitions and a princess on the centenary cover; this year it seems to be abandoning the retrospective and  looking firmly into its next era.

this year it seems to be abandoning the retrospective and looking firmly into its next era

At the start of the year Alexandra Shulman, editor-in-chief of Vogue, announced she will leave in summer , and it’s still hard to imagine the magazine under another person’s leadership. She’s been running the show for longer than I’ve been alive (since 1992!), seen Vogue through the whirlwind of changes brought by the 21st century, and her period at the helm included its strongest print sales. With Shulman editing, the magazine has been creative, timeless and saw Vogue transform into a global, digital brand incorporating digital editions, a Conde Nast College, Vogue Video and much more. My favourite Shulman moments were Kate Moss’ Bowie-inspired 2003 cover, and her 2009 letter to fashion houses that criticized their tiny sample sizes (and of course a star-struck run in at the Vogue 100 festival!). But is it time for the ‘classic’ British Vogue to get shaken up?

In April, her successor was named: Edward Enninful, current fashion and style director of W magazine. He’s committed to maintaining Vogue’s reputation for innovation, and also renowned for shaking up mainstream fashion titles – one of my favourite Enninful moments was the “all-black” 2008 issue of Italian Vogue during his time as contributing fashion editor. With features like that on his resume, Enninful is the right man to create a more diverse British Vogue which, as the leading fashion publication, will help the entire industry overcome what I believe to be one of its greatest issues: a lack of diversity. Fashion in its entirety is repeatedly called out for this fault, but it also has the power to change that reputation.

On the day of Shulman’s announcement, Managing Editor Frances Bentley also made her departure known, planning to leave the magazine in June after 24 years. Her role is a pivotal one in a magazine as huge as Vogue; the staff may have to ride out some bumps in the road, but the publication itself will surely continue smoothly. In May, Lucinda Chambers, the current fashion director, revealed that she will also be leaving Vogue after a career spanning 36 years. Known for her creativity, she frequently tells anecdotes of starting at the publication in clothing she’d created herself and her shoots are always beautiful, imaginative and inspired; my personal favourite is the October 2008 Kate Moss shoot dreamed up with Mario Testino. Her successor is as yet unannounced;  whether Vogue looks inside the publication or out, after 36 successful years, who can fill such sizeable (and stylish) shoes?

it’s inevitable that the magazine itself must change

With three of Vogue’s top roles changing hands, it’s inevitable that the magazine itself must change. Enninful will bring a fresh perspective to the magazine; in place of features, his background is visual and I expect some incredible shoots, whether or not he styles them himself. In combination with a new fashion director, we’re sure to see some editorial changes. Of course, every editorial is a product of many people’s involvement, but new directions will be taken in such a fast-paced industry built on constant evolution. It wouldn’t surprise me to see an updated cover format, or reboot of the features and content, as happened in 2015.

In spite of the oft-predicted ‘death of print’ I don’t believe this shakeup will see the end of those glossy pages – scrolling on a screen just can’t compete with the physical edition. Perhaps then the Vogue brand will expand its portfolio further – new technology has already turned the magazine world upside down, and I’m sure Enninful will be ready to take advantage of whatever leaps we next make, be they in virtual reality or tech-based garments. But whatever may come, one thing is for certain: everything has its time, and everything must come to an end. A new era is dawning, so here’s to embracing change and bursting into the next hundred years at British Vogue under its new management.


11th June 2017 at 5:24 pm

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