With the departure of Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue for the last 25 years, comes a rising tide for a change in how Vogue in the UK will respond to the growing changes surrounding its issues as a leading fashion magazine, its take on the current fashion climate in the UK and abroad, and the changing role of a female-directed media source in the modern day. While Vogue has stepped away from mainly catering for women, its role as a fashion ‘beacon’ in the US for all- fashion designers, models and aficionados is also similar in the UK. The magazine has changed with the times under the guidance of multiple editors including Shulman, and now it is time for the next step.
Alexandra Shulman focused on creating a fashion magazine that kept up with the standards expected of Vogue as the only veritable fashion bible, bringing in exhibition reviews to its pages, and expanding Vogue’s role in the drafting of designers, artists, models and muses. As the youngest magazine editor in the magazine’s history, she was bringing in the new right from the beginning. The attention she gave to well-written, refined articles that spoke both to the aesthete and the modern-day maverick showed her incredible attempt and ultimate success at straddling the magazine’s history with its modern-day demands as a business, and the final say in fashion-in-the-making. Now that it is her time to pass on the mantle to another editor and keeper of the British fashion bible, it is interesting to consider the route the magazine will take.
Although speculatively, the British Vogue documentary from last year highlighted Sarah Harris as the possible next editor, and definitely one of the contending voices for the position. However, nothing has of yet been decided as to the future of Vogue without Shulman’s lead. Sarah is the Director of the fashion sections and she has been deciding what would be in the fashion pages for the last 10 years. Although Shulman herself first worked at a music magazine, Sarah had her very first steps in journalism in fashion editorial at Tatler, then Women’s Wear Daily, then W, then Vogue, showcasing her dedication to the field and industry. Sarah has been visually known in the crowd photos at Fashion Week’s for her exceptional street style and her striking grey hair, making her a clear favourite for photos, but as her role requires, she certainly goes above and beyond in her professional capacity far more than just posing for pictures. While the Vogue editorial position is certainly worth someone who keeps up with the social media crazes and who develops Vogue both in the print and digital form, it is of some concern if the magazine will be able to keep up its high-brow editorial content as well in its cultural and relevant features.
Therefore, it is worth wondering what kind of magazine is Vogue to become for the modern reader under a new editor? How will the magazine respond to the changing times and will it now try and reach more diverse customer bases? As a business, the Conde Nast brand is headlined by Vogue, making it their most important magazine. As the oldest fashion magazine in the world, it also has a certain reputation to uphold. Although it may seem fruitless at this point, a shake-up for the most important position in British fashion journalism is certainly worth conversating about in the fashion circles.