There couldn’t be a better time to review Inside Vogue: A Diary Of My 100th Year by Alexandra Shulman than now – just as the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue has announced that she will be stepping down from her post after more than 25 years, which means that her diary is of even more importance. Last year was British Vogue’s centenary year – they produced the iconic 100th anniversary issue featuring the Duchess of Cambridge on the cover and threw various events in celebration.
Alexandra Shulman wrote a diary during this year, which mostly follows the inside workings of the magazine as they prepare for the 100th edition of Vogue, as well as her home life and personal reflections. Her diary was a pleasant surprise – I expected her to only discuss work and not divulge any personal opinions about anything. I think of her as like the Queen – a very important person with a very important job but doesn’t give anything away. So, I was very surprised when she wrote honestly that she was disappointed that Victoria Beckham doesn’t show her collection in London anymore. I was heartened that she wasn’t afraid to express her opinion on people – even if they are a formidable celebrity with legions of fans.
What really struck me about the diary was not Alexandra’s writings about the glamorous events that she was preparing for, but her writing about normal every day things. Throughout the book she laments on an ongoing plumbing issue that she has at home and I just love her for it. Who’d have thought that the editor of Vogue would have no hot water? It just goes to show that even Alexandra Shulman cannot escape dodgy plumbing.
I felt that I really got to know Alexandra the person rather than Alexandra the editor of Vogue. It was nice to find out what she gets up to in her spare time and realise that her interests such as running, reading and cooking are no different to most. It made me think that really she’s just a normal person with an extraordinary job.
I must also add that I’ve always been intrigued by how high-flying and successful people spend their days, especially an editor of Vogue. And this book made me feel like a fly on the wall – privy to all these behind the scenes editorial conversations which the public wouldn’t normally hear about. As someone that also works on a magazine, I’m really interested in reading about how other magazines are run and this book didn’t disappoint.
It was also good to hear her side of the story on the Richard Macer documentary, Absolutely Fashion about Vogue. The BBC documentary provided a very one dimensional view of the fashion world and offered little insight into Alexandra as a person. I can only imagine how daunting it must be when someone shoves a camera in your face and asks you to talk about your job, however the diary gives Alexandra a chance to fill in the gaps and let us into her world beyond the office.
Inside Vogue is a real page-turning treat and I’d recommend it to anyone that is curious about the fashion and magazine world.
Inside Vogue: A Diary Of My 100th Year by Alexandra Shulman, published by Fig Treat.