I’m a bit late to the Vogue leaving party – but our Greek island-hopping holiday wasn’t a complete digital detox and I did spot Lucinda Chambers trending online earlier this week. Unceremoniously dumped by Condé Nast after 36 years at Vogue, Chambers spoke out in an interview with the journal Vestoj called ‘Will I get a ticket?’ (now amended after lawyers on behalf of Condé Nast and Edward Enninful contacted the publishers). ‘Fashion shows are all about expectation and anxiety,’ Chambers says. ‘We’re all on display. It’s theatre. I’m fifty-seven and I know that when the shows come around in September I will feel vulnerable. Will I still get a ticket? Where will I sit?’

Photo via Guardian

Chamber’s is hugely talented, one of the best stylists around – I’ve always admired her work and now I can only admire her honesty, too. ‘You’re not allowed to fail in fashion,’ she continues, ‘especially in the age of social media, when everything is about leading a successful, amazing life. Nobody today is allowed to fail, instead the prospect causes anxiety and terror. But why can’t we celebrate failure? After all, it helps us grow and develop. I’m not ashamed of what happened to me.’ Good for her. After all, this kind of shoddy treatment happens all the time in the publishing industry. As someone who has been in a similar position myself, I can acknowledge that being fired and pretending that it was your decision to leave is a bit of face-saving nonsense (mainly on the publisher’s behalf) that fools no one.

I interviewed Lucinda for my second book (more details coming soon) and she was absolutely lovely. Nowhere near as incendiary as the Vestoj feature, though the price of ‘ridiculously expensive clothes’ was one of the things that came up. ‘I don’t spend massive amounts of money on clothes,’ Chambers told me, ‘my wardrobe is full of vintage and high street and if I do buy designer things I am very rigorous when investing. I avoid wasting money, it has to be something I love.’ As well as the industry itself, ‘I do think fashion can be, and is at the moment, very fascist. If you have larger breasts or hips, its harder, most sizing is pretty mean these days. It makes you feel small but not in a good way.’

The confession that Lucinda Chambers hasn’t read Vogue for years, (who has?), that magazines have stopped being useful and aren’t empowering reflects a wider malaise exacerbated by the shift from print to online publishing over the last decade. And with George Osborne editing the Evening Standard, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss on the masthead at Vogue, we can only guess how that will turn out…

Read the amended Vestoj interview HERE.

36 thoughts on “Lucinda Chambers’ second most interesting interview this week

  1. Thankyou for presenting Lucinda in such a supportive way. She is certainly one of my style icons and is not afraid to say it like it is. So refreshing in such a superficial industry.

  2. A woman of courage – and her comments about not being allowed to fail really hit home. I smiled at the comment that she hadn’t read Vogue for years. I’ve only ever bought it occasionally – feeling it was too exclusive and socially aspirational – and then every so often persuading myself that I was somehow missing the point and ‘ought’ to revere it. Now I can ignore it without guilt. Thank you Lucinda! Much rather read the truths and wit in your books Alyson – so looking forward to the next one coming out!

  3. I’m a huge fan of Lucinda Chambers, I met her a few times years ago and she was the nicest person. I’ll be really interested to see what she does next

  4. Shameful treatment but, as you say, only too common in the world of magazine publishing. I thought she was wonderful on the programme about Vogue last year – can’t recall the name of it, about Alexandra Shulman – and I love her style and how understated she appears, whilst still packing a punch. Frankly, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss couldn’t hold a candle. This dumping of “old style” in favour of the new and exciting is hugely disappointing though not, let’s say, surprising. Loyalty. It appears you can put a price on it but it might be too high for the bloody bean counters at Conde Nast.

    1. The ‘new and exciting’ is just same-old, same-old: Moss, Campbell, Coddington (lovely as the latter is.) The problem is that we all already know what Lucinda said publicly — the material is chosen because a client advertises regularly, not because it inspires. The mirage doesn’t fool us any more. If I want to buy I’ll go to net-a-porter and skip the designers I don’t like, heading straight to those I do. If I want inspiration I go to trusted bloggers. Why would I spend several pounds on a commercial cheat?

  5. Your interview and hers are both refreshingly honest. Who are fashion magazines trying to reach? From down right silly editorials to the constant crowning of insignificant “celebrities”… I long for the days when they gave us real information and inspiration. Lucinda has merely stated what we already suspected: the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

  6. I agree with the others: Vogue is no longer relevant to most of us. I remember the decades (60’s, 70’s, 80’s, even the 90’s) when I could identify with the fashions, beauty features, and articles on food, health, etc. If it doesn’t change, it’ll be gone soon.

  7. I’m with you all the way here. I’ve always admired the features directed by Lucinda. Chambers and her personal style. Not sure that she only wears old clothes because she was a stylist for Marni and in pictures I’ve seen her wearing many of their clothes as in these pictures and looking splendid and original. I’ve watched this saga unfold in the national press and heard about the purge of “the posh girls ” but there is also an ageist and possibly class element in the attempt of Conde Cast to appeal to a younger audience and most significantly get their slatted online shopping portal to flourish.

    Good luck to Lucinda Chambers who was brave and fearless to write what she did. Given her flair I’m sure her future will be equal to her past.

  8. I know celebrity sells, but I stoped buying Vogue years ago because of the nonentities they fawn over in their glossy pages. I, for one, am looking forward to Chambers’ next venture which I am sure will be exciting, empowering, positive and honest.

  9. I know she’s a style icon, but at least in the first photo she loooks like she threw a sweater on over her pajamas to drop the kids off at school. Not that I have any personal experience.

  10. Good luck to Lucinda Chambers, I find her hugely inspirational.. I’m a year older than her and love her style – so refreshing after all the “mother of the bride” type outfits and long kaftans found in magazines supposedly aimed at my age group. Vogue has definitely become less relevant – my 28 year old daughter has a subscription and I don’t think even she finds it very relevant. I much prefer Harpers, it’s more creative and interesting.

  11. There are some industries that have been asleep at the wheel for years. Vogue, Bazaar and the others forgot that promoting products used by johnny-one-note celebrities will likely alienate real women of style who know quality, creativity and enduring value. Having Pinterested the daylights out of the superbly styled Lucinda Chambers I am here to write that I am a huge fan and wish her crazy good success at whatever she takes on. Paper-thin Vogue and its delusional, inexperienced editors had better learn a new dance and fast because the music sped up. Dumbing down is not the answer, and neither is flash. If it were up to me as Queen of the Universe, I’d start a zine with Cathy Horyn, Lucinda Chambers, Kim France and Ms. Walsh. It would feature creative women of all ages who have figured it out.

  12. Good for Ms. Chambers for revealing the brutal truth of the fashion industry. I have stopped reading all editions of Vogue, like Lucinda I don’t lead a “vogue” lifestyle not do I aspire to, I can’t wait for her next chapter.

  13. Ghastly superficial world , I feel sad for her but would expect nothing less from a company like Condé Nast.
    In student years my flatmates and I would buy Vogue each month and revere every word and photo [Oh foolish ones!] but at least in the late 70s it had some content . And let’s face it ,fashion then was something exciting and new.
    Now I don’t even read mags when I’m bored s…less in the hair salon getting a dye job.

  14. Thanks for this. I read British Vogue for years–it had more to do with my real life than the American version. Now I don’t buy or read magazines at all–I much prefer to follow fashions online. Most of the designer clothes I see are designed for someone who lives some imaginary life. I look forward to following Lucinda as she takes on new projects

  15. I’ve been following the fallout from Lucinda’s article closely and although I’m sympathetic to the appalling treatment she was given after 36 years of dedicated service to Vogue, I’m grateful to her for bringing this subject to light. As a designer in New York I see this kind of thing happen over and over again to talented, hardworking professionals whenever a regime change occurs. At a certain age the next job does not materialize and vibrant careers are cut short. Yesterday I reposted a story about this at http://www.primadarling.com/fashion/fashions-dirty-little-secret/

  16. I love her candor and irreverent style. It’s true, fashion magazines have become largely irrelevant to most of us. I’m so tired of the focus on “celebrity du jour” too. I’m sure she’ll land on her feet, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

  17. ..mmmm. I have every Uk Vogue since Oct 1965 and nothing, but nothing, reflects its times as Vogue does…the celeb phase we are going through now is just that…a phase. I adore Lucinda C & her style & expect we will see more of her fabulous influence in another context.And the person who has the job in question..i.e fashion director… is Venetia Scott, not Naomi or Kate Moss…so all may be well.

  18. I just read the articles written by Jolain Muller after her post . Worth reading. As she says many designers are sacked by the big fashion conglomerates or sell out like the Marni family. Like Lucinda Chambers in the longer article within Allison post I agree that the rebranding of Marni is a real shame. These were expensive qualitative clothes which didn’t age. Years ago I would buy a few pieces and handbags from their outlet in Bicester Village near Oxford. I still treasure and use these things. Money well spent. The drive for profit and constant changes of designers and rebranding only serves the conglomerates like LVMH. At least in the newly opened blockbuster Dior exhibition at Paris Musee des Arts Decoratifs the period when John Galliano was the principal designer there is celebrated for his theatrical vision. Recently I went to the closing days of a huge magnificent Kimono exhibition in Paris at Musee Guimet Asian art museum. The exhibition included contemporary designs inspired by kimonos. There were two incredible outfits by Galliano for Dior shown. I’ve never seen such beautiful and imaginative outfits which live on in my photography.

  19. 36 years at Vogue is an achievement that should be celebrated. How Lucinda rose through the ranks is inspiratonal. It’s such a shame when someone is fired in this way – she is extremely talented and I can’t wait to see what she does next. I subscribe to Vogue & was amused at the comment about it not being read. I’m definitely guilty of this & find the articles pretty boring, it’s the imagery I love. Now Lucinda is no longer there it will be interesting to see if they can maintain her level of brilliance.

  20. Thank you for providing the link to the article in Vestoj. The article was both inciteful and thought provoking. You could feel the pain she is going through between the lines. As someone who was unceremoniously sacked after 23 years I admire Lucy’s bravery in her attitude and determination to say what she thinks. I love the top photo and I guess this outfit reflects Lucy’s outlook of non-conformity in a balanced and diverse way.

  21. Very inspirational woman. Love her interviews and like others, haven’t read Vogue, or any other fashion magazine in years. Love her style as well. Thanks for supporting her!

  22. “[Fashion magazines have] stopped being useful.”

    Yes. That’s it. Right there.

    BTW, what are the egregious passages that were deleted from the original Vetlof interview piece?

  23. I too have not read Vogue for years, and I stopped even flipping through it at the hair salon after the American Vogue had a cover photograph Kim and Kanye. For that reason, I was not familiar with Ms. Chambers work’ for British Vogue until she was dismissed. Having viewed many recent photographs of her since that dismissal, I have been struck by how much I like the clothes that she has been wearing in those photographs. They are of the styles I wear or would like to wear. Her dismissal certainly seems to have been Vogue’s failure, not hers. I look forward to enjoying and supporting Ms. Chambers’ work in the future, whatever she decides to do.

  24. Thanks for posting Lucinda’s refreshing comments – Vogue’s loss will surely be someone’s gain.

    I stopped buying Vogue when it degenerated into silliness – a model wearing three hats on top of each other? What’s that about? And remember when Vogue published 4 seasonal extras with exciting but wearable clothes?

  25. More honesty like this please. Most fashion is aimed at women and it is insidious in so much of its intent – some magazines do try to counter it with empowering articles and such but the bottom line when it comes to the actual clothes and images is usually not supportive of women at all. I’m glad she mentions failure, an important and inevitable part of anyone’s life. And let’s not forget that after the oil industry, fashion is the most environmentally destructive industry. How many collections can be squeezed out each year only to be thrown out the next? The chemicals used in making so many clothes cannot be broken down and so poison our planet. This to me is the real dark side to fashion – fast fashion especially. I’m also glad she calls out Michael Kors who churns out so much crap as he toddles off on his way to the bank. Some of his higher end – and obscenely expensive clothes – are lovely to be sure but we know he makes his money on the aspirations of shop girls who buy his mass produced, mediocre lines emblazoned with the MK. And there are so many more like him…

  26. Thanks for this! I read her interview and was appalled at the way she was let go unceremoniously after such an incredibly influential run! She’s so creative and spot on! Who among us women of a certain age DON”T live and dress the way she does? Fascist Fashion Dictators (this seems to be a trend on every level), be damned!

  27. Lucinda Chambers – a woman of immense talent, style and creativity. No-one buys or reads magazines anymore – I used to waste money on armfuls but they are not worth the paper they are printed on. Yes, Ms Chambers exit was cruelly dealt out to her but we all KNOW that she will go on to bigger and better things than a dated, overpriced, slightly bonkers magazine.

  28. I know this is going to be contentious, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you don’t respect the company you work for, or the product they make, then any new manager is going to question whether you are the right person to be there. I used to work for a chocolate factory. Every Monday morning, random people were selected for a taste-test. You couldn’t duck out. You couldn’t say you didn’t like chocolate. We made chocolate, that’s what put money in our bank accounts. You didn’t have to like it, but you had to respect it.

  29. WOW………I Havenot READ VOQUE either in years……..something HAPPENED YEARS AGO and NOT FOR THE GOOD!Much prefer HARPERS B.
    I like HER ALREADY!!!!!!!

  30. Call me a misandrist (and yes, I had to look that one up so rarely is it used compared to misogynist) but is appointing a male editor to a predominantly women’s magazine one 70s revival too many? Back in magazine publishing’s bad old days, titles such as Woman and Honey had blokes at the helm, something I’d like to think the increasing influence of feminism had resolved by the 80s. Time will tell exactly what Enninful is full of, but that he lacks empathy – a vital editorial ingredient – is already evident. Lucinda’s better off out of it.

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