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?’
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.