"Skinny, gossipy, evily, fashiony, I-am-the-best-y”... isn't it how we picture people in the Fashion industry?
It seems like any other rainy day in London, apart from the fact that I am sitting on the red leather sofa in the lobby of the “Vogue House” building. A hub of style where circulate trendy and young people, delivery men and the latest juicy rumours. The sidewalls are immense mirrors facing each other. In the center, the busy receptionist gives his back to a folding screen that features the latest issues of GQ, Vogue, Wired, Condé Nast Traveller. A pretty overwhelmed girl, probably an intern, comes back and forth to pick up the flower bouquets that accumulate on the front desk.
The receptionist gives us his OK to go on the 5th floor, Vogue’s floor. In the lift, last make-up touch, final hair adjustments and outfit check. Charlotte, recent recruit and assistant to the Managing Editor, Fran, welcomes us with an inviting smile. First stop: the “press room” where all the items sent by the press are collected and stored. Sandals, flats and heels cover half of the room's floor and table, as if a shower of shoes had fallen from the ceiling forming a jumbled mess. Shimmery, transparent and light coloured skirts and tops hang on racks that fill up the other half of the room. The chosen outfits for future shoots are tagged and placed on rails in the corridors, waiting to be approved by the Editor.
Far from the “Devils wear Prada” monsters, the Fashion editors, the Beauty editors and the graphic designers warmly greet us. In their cluttered open space, the energy is submerging. While some chat and giggle, others frown to better concentrate. Like the queen of a bee hive, Alex Shulman, Editor-in-Chief oversees the operations from her buzzing office. As we walk through the busy space, the Editor-at-large, sitting on her chair, bear foot, describes her tasks with a funny enthusiasm. Her assistant whom we caught induldging in a piece of cake says “hmm, sorry, hmm, yes we do eat a lot of cakes here." Desks are stacked with post-it, notes, frames, old coffee cups, notebooks and agendas.
My curious eye notices the presence of Sarah Harris, Fashion Features Editor who was interviewed at Condé Nast College a week earlier. Tall, slim, chic yet relaxed in black and white, she is wearing the Isabelle Marrant for H&M shoes. Embracing her natural grey hair at 34, she is make-up free. When not scrutinizing the runaway for upcoming trends, she is always on a hunt to find new ideas as Vogue costumers "want newness." A demanding job with long hours that Sarah couldn’t enjoy without her passion and the team that surrounds her. The one who is friends with Olivia Palermo, Miroslav Duma and Caroline Issa, casually goes back to her desk nicely smiling back at me.
My most memorable encounter was Kate Phelan, contributing Fashion Editor of British Vogue. As I saw her entering the immaculate white conference room of Condé Nast College, I was struck by her natural and relaxed look. She was wearing a dark blue cashmere pullover with perfectly fitted black capri paired with Isabelle Marrant for H&M sneakers (if you do not own a pair, you definitely missed the boat for the season!). One of the most estimated British stylist who hangs out with “Kate” in between photoshoots, was telling us about her career path with passionate deep blue eyes. As the pictures of her Vogue fashion editorials showed on the TV screen, she described her collaboration with celebrities like Rihanna, Victoria Beckam, with supermodels like Rosie Huntington, Cara Delevigne as well as with the reknown photographer Tim Walker. Kate Phelan's creativity is immense and as she told us “that’s what’s incredible at Vogue, you can live your dreams.”
The Vogue UK house is indeed a big family of low-key-chic and true-to-themselves people that any fashion crazed person would love to be part of.
by Camille Baron