Style & Then Some

Alexandra Shulman talks 20 years of Vogue covers

Last week, British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman took to the stage at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to discuss her twenty years at the helm of the magazine. Against a backdrop of twenty Vogue covers from the past two decades projected onto the vast wall of the lecture theatre, Shulman talked to radio and TV presenter Francine Stock about her career, her cover stars, her first novel and what the future holds for brand Vogue. Here are fifteen fascinating quotations from the evening.

Alexandra Shulman talks twenty years of Vogue covers Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman 2012 British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman book Alexandra Shulman British Vogue interview Alexandra Shulman interview 2012 Alexandra Shulman photos 2012 Victoria and Albert Museum London July 2012

 

What am I going to wear?

Shulman’s first thought we she learned she’d got the Vogue job. She had been working as editor of GQ for the previous two years.

 

He was the first male musician ever to be on the cover of Vogue.

Bono, alongside Christy Turlington, is a bold choice for one of the first covers under Shulman’s editorship in December 1992.

Alexandra Shulman talks twenty years of Vogue covers Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman 2012 British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman book Alexandra Shulman British Vogue interview Alexandra Shulman interview 2012 Alexandra Shulman photos 2012 Victoria and Albert Museum London July 2012

 

The magazine sells very well when she’s on the cover. In 1992…Kate was a new London model and she seemed to me to epitomise that style [the grunge movement]. She’s really beautiful, there’s something about her, that symmetry.

Kate Moss was – and still is – a favourite Vogue cover girl.

 

We did that cover line about two months ago actually…I’d forgotten we’d done that.

Like many women’s magazines, the same content sometimes gets recycled at Vogue. The January 1995 cover story ‘Are you leaving it to late to have a baby?’ is just as relevant in 2012.

 

It’s the only time a Marks and Spencer shirt has been on the cover.

Why the May 1996 cover, starring Amber Valetta stands out in Vogue’s history

 

When the Princess of Wales died on that August bank holiday, our October issue was coming out about a week later at the beginning of September and we were obviously not [planning] to have a picture of her on the magazine. But we realised there was this shoot that had never been run that Patrick Demarchelier had done. So we managed to get him to get us the pictures in about twenty-four hours and we put that on as a commemorative issue.

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales in August 1997 led to a last minute cover change.

 

It’s probably the best selling issue I’ve ever done. What I love about that fact is that it’s a silver issue so you only see your own face and your reflection rather than the model. It was a huge risk doing that.

On Vogue’s millennium issue in December 1999 the reader was the cover star.

 

That’s such a kind of trashy-looking perfect cover really. He was completely easy going and so was she, it’s one of the easiest covers that we’ve ever done.

Another big seller, October 2000, featured Robbie Williams and Gisele Bundchen.

 

Now, you’re on a shoot and you have a monitor there and everybody can see what’s being shot and a certain amount of editing is done literally as it’s happening, which I have to say is a really bad process because people don’t step away from the shoot.

Why digital isn’t always better when it comes to cover shoots.

 

I think you’re a Vogue reader no matter what age you are. You’ll start maybe as a teenager…and then you carry on and then an awful lot of women in their seventies and eighties are still buying Vogue.

Shulman believes Vogue appeals to women – and men – of all ages.

Victoria Beckham on the Vogue cover April 2008 Victoria Beckham cover of Vogue Victoria Beckham British Vogue cover Victoria Beckham how many Vogue covers 2012

That’s Victoria Beckham. We had a lot of criticism about the idea of putting her on the cover. But I’ve had the last laugh on that now.

Spice Girl-turned-fashion designer was a prophetic cover choice for April 2008

 

We do trend talks every season after the shows, all the retailers come and the brands come, so they hear what we’re going to be doing, what we’re going to be featuring in the catwalk supplements.

Vogue influences the wide fashion landscape by sharing with retailers which trends they’re going to get behind.

Alexandra Shulman talks twenty years of Vogue covers Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman 2012 British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman book Alexandra Shulman British Vogue interview Alexandra Shulman interview 2012 Alexandra Shulman photos 2012 Victoria and Albert Museum London July 2012

You’re going to see the return of models on the cover of British Vogue probably next year because I’ve decided to shoot more model covers next year than we have been doing. What’s hard is that there aren’t very many recognisable models.

The era of the Vogue celebrity cover star may soon be over, given what Shulman has planned for the next year.

 

We are competitive with each other. And now there are an awful lot of Vogues. There are about 19 of us. They’ve just launched Thai Vogue. We’re like a sort of really big family where everyone’s competing, there’s sibling rivalry.

Shulman describes the friendly rivalry between all the Vogues across the globe.

 

I see it having a lot of different digital outreach in different ways…and I am absolutely confident there will still be a Vogue that you can hold and carry around in ten years time. If I had to put money on it I think it would probably become possibly more expensive and more precious and probably sell slightly fewer copies than it does.

Shulman’s predictions for the next ten years of British Vogue.

Alexandra Shulman talks twenty years of Vogue covers Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman 2012 British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman book Alexandra Shulman British Vogue interview Alexandra Shulman interview 2012 Alexandra Shulman photos 2012 Victoria and Albert Museum London July 2012

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This entry was posted on July 25, 2012 by in And Then Some.
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