Lucinda Chambers Tells It Like It Is. Everyone Gets Excited.

Image via The Evening Standard

The wonderful and now ex fashion editor of Vogue UK, Lucinda Chambers, caused a mini fashion meltdown on the internet yesterday when she spoke her mind to the cerebral sartorial website Vestoj. She revealed that she’d been sacked somewhat brutally from Vogue, as well as saying lots of things we already knew; that the clothes in Vogue are irrelevant for most people, that fashion magazines make women feel anxious, that we don’t allow ourselves to celebrate failure and learn from it and that Marni is no longer what it was. We all also discovered Vestoj, who knew?

The feature, written by the excellent Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, was only up briefly on Vestoj before it caused a social media storm and was swiftly taken down, presumably while lawyers were consulted. As I write this, the piece is back up, in its original form and is worth a read.

Image via the excellent Anne Bernecker blog

Fessing up, I love Lucinda. I see her at Hammersmith Vintage Fair, early on Sunday mornings, working her way around the stalls. Yes, I stalk her, but if she notices, she’s too polite to say anything. I follow in her wake and check out what she’s viewed and if that’s strange I just don’t care. She puts her clothes together as if she’s got a story going on in her head, never looking the same from one weekend to the next. Imagination and style flow through her outfits in a way that makes her a unique and captivating ‘work in progress’. She is definitely my grown-up, girl-crush.

The candid interview sounds like any conversation we might have in the fashion world, it was just unusual to see it in print and from an important insider, because so much of fashion is about pretending.

Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years‘ she says, as everyone at Conde Nast clutched their pearls and fainted.

She is 57, and although it’s well documented that she loved fashion from infancy, her journey through fashion  -the growth of the high street and the boom of fashion influence – is ours too. She started off making her clothes because she couldn’t afford what she saw in stores, as did many of us. Her style influences are ours because the world was smaller, we read the same magazines, listened to the same music stations and watched the same TV. I say this confidently because there wasn’t that much choice back then, Tops Of The Pops was the ONLY music show on TV, try and tell that to a Millennial whose just spent the weekend watching Glastonbury highlights on their personal digital device at a time of their choosing.

She is, for me anyway, reinventing how to look styish at nearly 60.

Perhaps the most interesting insight -and remember it’s Vogue she’s talking about here, comes in the final paragraph. She says “It’s a shame that magazines have lost the authority they once had. They’ve stopped being useful. In fashion we are always trying to make people buy something they don’t need. We don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into continue buying. I know glossy magazines are meant to be aspirational, but why not be both useful and aspirational? That’s the kind of fashion magazine I’d like to see.”

Again, nothing we didn’t all know already Lucinda (although it made me feel very on trend with my year of buying nothing).

What’s slightly disappointing is how long it’s taken a Vogue insider to realize this, but also what she might do next after this revelation. Might it be a useful and aspirational magazine of her own? If so, I do hope it’s aimed at the grown up women we all are. It could be just what we’ve been waiting for.

image via Vogue

13 Comments

  • Sue says:

    Lucinda Chambers is just great, isn’t she. I always look for her shoots first when I get my copy of Vogue. This interview was even reported in yesterday’s Times – I went and looked it up online, of course. I’m sure she’ll be just fine as I’ve never read a bad word said about her by anyone. Surely quite an endorsement. But, horrible to read how peremptorily she was fired. ( I am still in awe about your no purchasing year. Well done).

  • It was such a good article, having had a fleeting work brush with the fashion industry in my 20s I was glad to get out – it took me a long time to unpick the insecurities 2 years gave me. Looking forward to seeing what she does next.

  • Sarah says:

    Very interesting article, I admire her honesty and her terrific personal style. She has always been a fashion touchstone for me, along with Grace Coddington and Amanda Harlech, similar age and life influences. She has always combined art with fashion and treated it as a serious cultural enterprise I have been considering cancelling my sub to Vogue because it no longer seems to include me, too old, too unconventional, too poor. I feel I must give the new guy a chance, but I have no great hopes.

  • Sue Evans says:

    What a sad ending to a wonderful carer at Vogue. The magazine has now lost 2 great stylists and fashion icons of our time, Lucinda and Grace Coddington and I suspect Vogue will become just another fashion magazine under the new Editor. As Sarah said, art, culture and fashion were entwined under Lucinda’s direction becase she had a vision outside pure fashion, although like her I haven’t actually read Vogue in about 8 years despite working in the industry ………life’s too short to bother with fashion magazines !

  • Claire B says:

    I absolutely love Lucinda Chambers, her sense of style and fun is fabulous. I’m 58 and find her completely inspirational. My daughter, who studied fashion and photography, has a sub to Vogue so I read it every month. I don’t think my daughter (28) finds it very inspiring now, and I must say I don’t often find it that interesting. I prefer Harpers, which is much more creative and exciting, and just seems to get more so every month. Whatever Lucinda Chambers does in the future I hope it will be something we can all share in – good luck to her!

  • Ellen says:

    Wow! This article is great. I am 60 and work in the fashion industry in the States. I relate to all the touchpoints and cultural references to how fashion and our lives have evolved as I actually went to Saint Martins before it was CSM. I loved the creativity of design, but always hated how the industry is. And the way people are discarded so easily is appalling. Most are caught by surprise and escorted out like they were embezzling from the company. How does one recover from that experience after working so hard in a job that is definitely not 9 to 5, but requires very late nights to do the job. I was fired myself and it left its mark on me for sure.

  • Patty says:

    I am here in the states. I can’t remember the last time I bought a vogue magazine. I am a very average person, and while it was fun for a period of time to see fashion spreads, read an article here or there the reality is that I could never afford ANY of the clothes, cosmetics, shoes, whatever. At a certain point in my life I did a couple of things. First after 9/11 I dressed so that in the event of an emergency I could walk anywhere. Sneakers, pants, good socks stashed in my car, office or I actually wore them to work. I am never going to be corporate. Don’t need suits, multiple power dressing, heels. Find clothes that will last me a long time. A basic white shirt from llbean, landsend, Duluth for pants, or skirts (a combination of a skirt and shorts). Get a job where no one is judging you on your clothing.You might think I live in NYC, no I live in Maryland but I am not buying into magazines anymore, they hold no appeal.

  • Sarah says:

    Great post. I love Lucinda too and pin her outfits more than anyone else on Pinterest as inspiration to be more fearless. Love her words and agree with everything she said. Also agree it is disappointing that it took this long, but when you are paid by Vogue it would have been professional suicide to say it sooner. Hopefully she’ll start a dialogue at the very least – looking forward to What Lucinda Did Next. It wont be boring!

  • Womenfolk, excellent comments from you all and very good to hear that Lucinda is such an icon for so many of you. As Sarah says, what ever Lucinda does next it probably wont be dull. I really hope she does her own mag, wouldn’t it be fun if she started something AMAZING with Grace C, a wonderfully inspiring, modern mag about growing older with style. And also kind of sad that Vogue is so unimportant for us all now. I agree with Claire B, I love Harpers, although the clothes are still a daft price. Patti, really interesting to hear the way you changed your dressing habits after 9/11, living in London currently, I am away I might need to run fast at any point, although I’m always in flats anyway. Have a good weekend everyone Ax

  • Monix says:

    Adore Lucinda Chambers – she hasn’t done botox and had other evasive procedures (I cheekily presume) and looks her amazing age. Always inspirational and am agog what she does next.
    Do you think fashion magazines have had their day (though would always buy the September issues)? Instagram/blogs seem far more relevant to me now .

  • Amanda says:

    Yes Mon, you are right, I do think fashion mags might have had their day. But I suspect if a great one came along (I’m thinking of The Gentlewoman) then it would get a strong and successful niche following. Fingers crossed Ax

  • I’m a bit late to this party but would like to weigh in none-the-less. The fallout from the Vestoj article has been tremendous not only in the UK but in the US as well. Lucinda could be the spark to ignite meaningful discussion and hopefully change in the publishing world and fashion companies. They both have become exclusive clubs for celebs, fashion conglomerates and the fashion press with little thought given to the consumers. The response has been that of overwhelming frustration with a system that is not useful to those it was there to serve. I’ve posted two related articles: http://www.primadarling.com/fashion/year-of-living-designer-free/ http://www.primadarling.com/fashion/fashions-dirty-little-secret/

  • I love these photos of Lucinda C looking chic and beautiful and not afraid to be her age! I’m pretty much over fashion magazines now – it’s not a mystery that they promote expensive clothes since that’s what the fashion brands want to advertise and sell. And given the current climate I’m sure print mags must be finding life tough which will make it even harder to deliver the stories that are both useful and aspirational. Plus so many past readers are here now, roaming around the internet for fashion info instead of waiting with bated breath for a monthly glossy. I’ll be really interested to see what Lucinda does next.

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