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Be inspired every day with Living North
Model on Catwalk
May 2015
Reading time 10 minutes

We chat to Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman about photoshoot disasters, how she spends her spare time and what she thinks of Newcastle

The editor of one of Britain's biggest fashion magazines is undoubtedly a busy woman, but this month she took time out to share career advice at NE1's Fashion Futures event in Newcastle.

This two day event programme including Northumbria University's Graduate Fashion Show, is a showcase of regional designers and talks from industry insiders.

Why did she decide to get involved? Because she sees it as her duty to engage with the fashion industry, and she believes the city is a big part of it, 'Newcastle is an interesting city,' she says, 'A lot of design talent historically has come out of Newcastle, it's a cultural centre.'

If anyone should know, Shulman should. Since becoming Editor of Vogue in 1992 (after a foray into music journalism and a couple of years editing GQ) Alexandra Shulman has increased the magazine's readership to over a million. And as if editing one of the world's most iconic magazines isn't enough, she has also written a novel, launched Vogue Festival, written several newspaper columns and been awarded an OBE for services to the magazine industry. Widely regarded as the ordinary Vogue editor, it seems she is anything but. 

Surprisingly Alexandra is a lot more laid-back than you might imagine. 'I am good at compartmentalising,' she says, 'So when I'm working I am really focused on it, but when I go home I don't spend all my time addressing my emails and worrying about things. I read, I cook a lot, I see friends, go out for meals, have people over and do the same thing everyone does. I am quite good at relaxing.'

But sometimes, working at Vogue isn't the most relaxing job, there's always the odd disaster. 'Almost every time we go abroad to photograph in the sun there's an earthquake or terrible tropical storm,' says Alexandra. 'We are very much at the mercy of the elements.The first time Emma Watson was on our cover and we were photographing her in Paris, the clothes were all stolen from the Eurostar,' she recalls, 'So when she arrived there were no clothes. We tracked some down and had to borrow from shops and scrabble something together because we only had her there briefly, it wasn't like we could cancel it and start again.'

Another incident fresh in Alexandra's mind happened in St Barths with Kate Moss. 'It was a cover shoot,' recalls Alexandra, 'The hair and make-up equipment didn't arrive so they suddenly had to do a shoot with everyone's own make-up bags and blow dryers. That was pretty tricky.'

Disasters aside, does Alexandra have a favourite moment? 'I know it might sound odd but I don't really have any because my job changes all the time, what I am doing every day is so different. At one point it might be putting together the Vogue Festival. But then I might be launching a new supplement and that will be my favourite moment.' Currently, she is excited about event planning for Vogue's centenary next year, 'I am putting together a huge programme to celebrate 100 years of Vogue, and that's a pretty amazing thing to do,' she says.

The programme will involve an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery of 100 years of style, which will be made up of Vogue images, a special issue of the magazine (which Alexandra is already planning), a big gala and a few other things that haven't been finalised yet. 'It's going to be wonderful,' she says, 'And we're going to have a number of other things that I can't mention yet because they aren't signed on the dotted line.'

One of these unmentionables is rumoured to be a documentary, something Alexandra has never agreed to before. 'We have been asked hundreds of times whether we would do a television programme and I've always said no,' she says. 'Because it's our centenary I can see that it would be a good time to do it, but there are certain things we want to be part of it so we are talking to a production company about what it could or couldn't be, and I don't know whether it will happen or not at the moment.' 

Whether or not we are granted insider access to Vogue's HQ, the fashion industry as a whole is undoubtedly more accessible than ever, as demonstrated by the increase in local events such as NE1's Fashion Futures. 'It's global, it's international, it's countrywide,' says Alexandra, 'I don't think anybody any longer can think about fashion as only being about the one place where they operate.


Click the images below to see NE1's Fashion Futures event

'I am putting together a huge programme to celebrate 100 years of Vogue, and that's a pretty amazing thing to do'

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