In this new documentary, which aired last week, director, Richard Macer gains an exclusive look behind the doors of British Vogue magazine.
As he reaches the fifth floor under the direction of the Condé Nast receptionists, while optimistically expecting a welcome from British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, he is instead, rather embarassingly asked if he has a pass – clearly an indiction of the hectic working conditions of the famous magazine.
We see behind the scenes of two cover shoots. One is of Edie Campbell, shot by Mario Testino, and one of Kate Moss who wears a jacket previously worn by Mick Jagger.The Moss cover in question causes friction between creative director Jamie Perlman who wants Kate draped in a Union Jack and Shulman who does not. Richard steps in, encouraging Jamie to stand up for her cover and she briefly mirrors Grace Coddington’s stubbornness in The September Issue which similarly documented life at American Vogue.
Richard’s journey takes him to fashion weeks in London, Paris and Milan. The camera seemingly weaves through crowds of noteworthy faces, sidestepping Karl Lagerfeld and skimming across Cara Delevingne – adding to the feeling of Macer’s obliviousness in the face of these industry icons. The lens does however focus frequently on the distinctive clean cut hair and face covering sunglasses of American Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. The near constant referral to the infamous editor shows Macer’s angle in trying to liken Shulman to the stereotype of Meryl Streep’s ruthless character in The Devil Wears Prada for which Wintour was the inspiration.
It is implied in the documentary that Shulman has come to run a tight ship during her 25 years at Vogue, as Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers recalls that ‘there used to be more hangovers’ in the vogue offices before Shulman’s arrival. Yet a revealing interview between Richard and Shulman’s mother completely humanises her, as does a later interview where Shulman admits her job to be isolating but explains that she never ‘feels lonely’.
In light of his slight mockery towards the world of Vogue, Macer with his gifted access captures all the addictively eccentric details of the fashion industry. When he’s not causing drama in briefings or acting like Attenborough with observational voice overs, he highlights the effect that the changing pace of fashion is having on workers of the industry as they try to keep up with consumers. A year later, as New York Fashion week gets into full swing, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger are pushing their campaigns for the ‘see now, buy now’ availability of their collections and the pace that Alexandra Shulman fears shows no sign of slowing.
Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue pt1 is available on BBC iplayer now.