The Reign is Over

After 25 years, Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman steps down. Tessa Jones looks back on her career highlights…

After 25 years and a day on her throne, the Queen of Vogue magazine, Alexandra Shulman, announced her resignation on 25th January 2017. She is the longest serving editor-in-chief, and has massively shaped and had an impact on the fashion industry during her time at Vogue. Shulman started her journalistic career at The Tatler in 1982, and within eight years had moved on to GQ where she increased their sales by 30%. Her true calling though, was realised in 1992 where she got the much desired position at Vogue. This, however, was not without the scrutiny of the public, as it was questioned whether she had the experience or the ‘look’ to be editor of the Holy Grail of fashion, with The New York Times stating that ‘she could be better acquainted with a hairbrush’. Of course, this negativity was all in vain as Shulman excelled in her role, with Vogue’s circulation increasing by 12% under her editorship, according to The Guardian. Despite this, she saw herself as a ‘journalist’ and not a ‘fashion editor’, coming into Vogue with limited knowledge of fashion yet displaying an ability to thrive in whatever she set her mind to.

Her growing platform in fashion was not wasted; using it for prevalent issues in the sector, particularly in regard to eating disorders and the size of models. After noting that anorexia was a ‘huge problem’, Shulman debated the concern of sample sizes sent in by designers, which she described as ‘miniscule’. The models needed to have ‘jutting bones’ in order to fit such clothes, and thus Vogue were limited on what models could be used for their covers, those of which were often unhealthily slim. In 2009, she wrote an open letter to designers to appeal for bigger sizes; using her status to move the industry in a new, much desired, direction. Furthermore, under the lead of Shulman, Vogue refused to feature articles on the topics of dieting and cosmetic surgery, not wanting to be culpable of promoting such matters to society. Shulman’s final cover, the January 2017 issue, featured plus-size model, Ashley Graham. With this being her final ever cover, this could insinuate Shulman’s hopes for the path that Vogue should continue to take in the legacy that she has left. In 2004, she was awarded an OBE for her contributions and devotions to the fashion industry, and was named one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 in February 2013.

Tessa Jones 

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