Alexandra Shulman: Ex-Vogue chief takes aim at celebrity-obsessed editors

image copyrightReuters
image captionShulman stepped down as Vogue editor earlier this year

Former UK Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman has taken a swipe at image-obsessed magazine chiefs.

She said the job of editor was not about "being photographed in a series of designer clothes with a roster of famous friends".

Some have interpreted her comments, in a column for Business of Fashion, as a swipe at her successor Edward Enninful.

He has made a raft of changes at the magazine, with new signings including Naomi Campbell and Steve McQueen.

Lots of senior figures who had been at Vogue for years, including former fashion director Lucinda Chambers, have left since he was appointed.

image copyrightPA
image captionEdward Enninful hired Naomi Campbell as a contributing editor

Shulman stepped down as editor of Vogue in January after more than 25 years, saying she "wanted to experience a different life".

In her opinion piece titled What Makes a Great Magazine Editor, she noted that things were changing quickly in the fashion world.

"Amidst all the turbulence, the word on the street - and certainly during the febrile month of fashion shows - is that the new guard of editors, who will take the reins going forward, will be less magazine journalists and more celebrities or fashion personalities with substantial social media followings."

Publishers' 'panic'

It could be noted that Enninful is known for having many celebrity friends - and that he's not shy about sharing pictures with them on social media.

Shulman said there was "panic" being shown by media owners - and questioned whether that resulted in "good decisions being made".

"Everywhere you go, you hear of resources being cut back, of staff being let go and the word Millennials being invoked by faintly wild-eyed 50-somethings as if they were chanting their personal mantra," she noted.

Shulman also spoke about the enduring appeal of the print magazine, saying a physical copy of Vogue is a "treat and a luxury" and that she is "convinced that the appeal of the tangible experience of a thick glossy magazine remains strong".

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionShulman showed the Duchess of Cambridge around a Vogue exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery last year

So what should a great editor do?

Well, they need to actually edit, says Shulman, and "sweat the small stuff".

They shouldn't be "chasing clickbait that is mirrored in a zillion websites and cravenly following a small pool of short-term celebrity names".

And in terms of how not to do it, she coolly states: "It's certainly not a job for someone who doesn't wish to put in the hours and thinks that the main part of their job is being photographed in a series of designer clothes with a roster of famous friends."

Enninful been praised for making Vogue more diverse, after the magazine's last staff photo under Shulman's editorship was criticised for being all-white.

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