The fashion editor’s brutal essay goes viral
In April, it was announced that esteemed fashion editor, Edward Enninful, would succeed Alexandra Shulman at the helm of British Vogue after her 25-year tenure as the glossy title’s Editor in Chief. This announcement was received enthusiastically, with many hoping that the change would be a much-needed breath of fresh air for the mag. With a roster of pals including Naomi Campbell and Katie Grand, and a career trajectory that included modeling at 16 and founding independents like i-D, Enninful’s journey to the top was diversely different from the posh upbringings of many Vogue UK staffers. As with any major power shift, there is bound to be drama; a scrambling to secure a position within the new regime, a clash of new vs. old school ruling. Of course, there was speculation. But no one could have guessed what ensued.
The mag’s longtime (25 of her 36 years on staff!) fashion director, Lucinda Chambers, announced her resignation in May with many a heartfelt anecdote from industry vets. The adorable Chambers became Vogue UK’s darling after her cameo in Absolutely Fashion brought life to an office atmosphere that was rather similar to watching paint dry. It felt a natural follow-up to Shulman’s departure, albeit teary-eyed.
Fast forward to Monday, July 3rd; the academic fashion publication, Vestoj, publishes an essay from Chambers and the Internet goes freaking crazy.
In the interview-cum-juicy tell-all, Chambers revealed that she was actually fired from the mag swiftly following Enninful’s appointment, a move that took him “only three minutes” to decide. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the ground. She goes on to express shaky opinions of an industry that “can chew you up and spit you out,” with a brutal honesty opposite to the “smoke and mirrors” of her colleagues, admitting not having read Vogue UK in years, along with expressing a desire for a fashion publication that is both “useful and aspirational.” Lucinda goes no-holds-barred, calling many of her shoots “crap” at the expense of having to include advertisers – a widely known industry practice that is constantly swept under the rug, by executive editors nonetheless.
The article was promptly taken down from Vestoj’s site, only to be live again a day later with this disclaimer from its editors: “In terms of the reasons why it was removed, they are directly related to the industry pressures which Lucinda discusses in her interview. As you know, fashion magazines are rarely independent because their existence depends on relationships with powerful institutions and individuals, whether it’s for tickets to shows, access in order to conduct interviews or advertising revenue.” Yes, they lawyered-up. It was this good.
While she expresses a positive openness to Enninful’s mastery of style, her essay is surely a bite back at the new EIC’s power move. Lucinda was widely regarded for her creativity, especially her influence when working as creative director at Marni – a company that has since lost its spark, and will be missed on the magazine’s masthead. This airing of dirty laundry is a first for such a well-established editor; the drama is unlikely to end here. We are still awaiting a response from Vogue’s reps. Grab your popcorn.