Harrods.com interviews Alexandra Shulman

By Amelia Johansson 20 February 2014

 Alexandra Shulman

In celebration of the upcoming Vogue Festival, we caught up with Vogue Editor-in-chief and one of the panellists judging the HarrodsLive Street Style Competition, Alexandra Shulman, about her Fashion Week essentials and which fashion era she’ll be glad to never see again!

The Vogue franchises are now almost as popular as the magazine itself – how did the idea of the Vogue Festival come about?

The idea started a few years back when everyone was talking about live events. There was a huge growth in immersive theatre experiences, literary festivals and musical acts that started making more money from tours than they did from selling records. I thought to myself ‘What can we learn from that for Vogue?’ and I decided to create a live experience that could emulate the pages of the magazine. Every year since the first festival three years ago, we have learned something. In particular, it’s interesting to note that attendees are interested in learning; whether it’s to get information about how to make it into the fashion business as a career or panels where they listen to multiple industry people sound off.

What excites you about the event and what can we expect this year?

This year we’ve really built up on the experiential side of things. Obviously Harrods is staging an exciting catwalk and I’ve introduced a session called Show & Tell, where attendees can bring in a product they’ve designed and put it in front of our noses.

What is the secret to Vogue's longevity?

I think people trust Vogue to provide them with a vision of the fashion world and contemporary style. They know we work with the best models, photographers, hair and make-up artists – and no one else can really do that in an editorial sense. In two years we’ll be 100 years old – if we weren’t doing something right we would have collapsed years ago.

Do you have a favourite Vogue cover from your tenure as Editor?

I really don’t. I have lots of ones I love but I couldn’t possibly choose just one.

What advice would you give someone wanting to work in the fashion industry?

I would say to persevere, to be prepared to work hard and to look at what’s working and how people are operating in the industry and learn from it. One can become a success but they need to be prepared to work in areas of the business they might not have necessarily planned to be involved in.

"One can become a success but they need to be prepared to work in areas of the [fashion] business they might not have necessarily planned to be involved in."

Who in the business has made the biggest impression on you?

Mario Testino and Tim Walker are two photographers we work with a lot and they each have such a distinct aesthetic. Tim’s recent portraiture, especially, really evokes a certain mood and Mario has been the driver of turning fashion people into celebrities. In terms of designers, I really admire British designers like Erdem, Christopher Kane and JW Anderson. In my point of view, they are designers that will stand the test of time, which is actually quite rare.

Which would be your top brands to invest in now?

For proper investments, I would always look to Hermès or Chanel but I would recommend turning to a piece or a brand that speaks to the individual.

Eras tend to be revisited in fashion – is there one that you wouldn’t mind never seeing again?

There’s a certain point of the Sixties I’m a bit bored of – the Beatles era with the plain shift dresses and the Mary Quant-esque styling. I’ve seen it a lot lately. I like the ‘70s, which most people don’t rate and there have been some quite good ‘80s revivals lately. I still feel it’s too soon to talk about the Nineties.

Social media and the digital age have had a huge impact on the industry – what do you think the future of fashion looks like?

Information is being disseminated faster than ever before and more people can now experience the fashion conversation through sharing and streaming but at the end of the day, it still boils down to finding something that you love to wear and liking how it looks on you. You still have to do the work of tracking something down, whether it’s about going into a shop or going online.

What are your Fashion Week essentials?

Music; I take different iPods with me, one to run to, another for travel. I always take Manolo Blahnik shoes with me because they are as comfortable as they are beautiful. I always have Rescue Remedy with me for a calming influence. In terms of clothes, this season I’ve got a Prada cashmere sweater with a motif that I’m looking forward to wearing – it’s a good transseasonal piece, and an Osman coat.