Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Straight from "The Devil wears Prada" ... LUCINDA CHAMBERS fired from British Vogue

Lucinda Chambers revealed that she was in fact fired by newly appointed editor Edward Enninful
'The clothes are just irrelevant'


A candid interview in which British Vogue’s former fashion director said she was fired from the title has been mysteriously removed from the internet.

Ever since the announcement that long-standing editor Alexandra Shulman was to be replaced by stylist Edward Enninful, it became clear that a new era was dawning at the glossy title. Especially as two other departures swiftly followed: managing editor of 24 years Frances Bentley left on the same day, and fashion director Lucinda Chambers announced that she was to step down four months later.

But now, in an extremely open interview with Vestoj, Chambers has said that she was fired - a decision which she said took bosses just "three minutes" to carry out.

In an article published on the "critical thinking" fashion website, Chambers, 57, said she had been fired six weeks ago by Enninful without the knowledge of Shulman.

"A month and a half ago I was fired from Vogue," she says. “It took them three minutes to do it. I didn't leave. I was fired."

But, British Vogue has since responded claiming that this move was not completely unexpected, "It's usual for an incoming Editor to make some changes to the team," the publication told The Independent.

"Any changes made are done with the full knowledge of senior Management."

The interview was promptly taken down as soon as it began to gain traction on social media - a move the site says was due to the "sensitive nature" of the article.

But, Vestoj has since re-published it in its entirety with the hopes that it will spark a discussion which might, in the words of Chambers, "lead to a more empowering and useful fashion media."

Entitled, "Will I Get a Ticket?", Chambers went on to slam some of the magazine's decisions - particularly when it came to advertising.

"The June cover with Alexa Chung in a stupid Michael Kors T-shirt is crap," she admits.

"He’s a big advertiser so I knew why I had to do it. I knew it was cheesy when I was doing it, and I did it anyway."

Then, she shed light on the employment of a fashion editor who, according to Chambers, was employed despite being a "terrible stylist".

"In fashion you can go far if you look fantastic and confident — no one wants to be the one to say 'but they're crap'."

But, perhaps the most revealing extract of the entire interview came when Chambers exposed the reality of the publication she had worked for, for 36 years.

Here, she admitted that she hadn’t "read Vogue in years", slating the clothes as "irrelevant" and "ridiculously expensive".

"There are very few fashion magazines that make you feel empowered. Most leave you totally anxiety-ridden.

"Truth be told, I haven't read Vogue in years. The clothes are just irrelevant for most people – so ridiculously expensive.

"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."

Lucinda Chambers, Fired Vogue Director, Gives Fashion Industry a Kicking

Lucinda Chambers last year. She said in an interview with the journal Vestoj that the fashion industry could “chew you up and spit you out.” Credit Marcy Swingle for The New York Times
PARIS — Hell hath no fury like a fashion editor fired. At the couture shows in Paris this week, the front row was abuzz — both conversationally and electronically — with news of an incendiary interview with Lucinda Chambers, the former British Vogue fashion director, that was unusual in its frank criticism of the 21st-century fashion ecosystem. Soon after its publication, however, and amid talk of legal action, the piece was taken down, only to sensationally resurface again less than 24 hours later.

First published on Monday in Vestoj, an annual academic journal about fashion, the first-person account charted Ms. Chambers’s abrupt departure from British Vogue in May, as well as the broader brutality of the fashion business and the apparent power that heavyweight advertisers have over magazine publishers.

The article was removed from Vestoj’s website the same day it was published, and no reason was initially provided. But multiple screen captures and photographs of its contents continued to be widely circulated, testament to the fact that in the world of social media, nothing really disappears, and to the singularity of a fashion-industry insider breaking ranks and shedding a negative light on the internal machinations of the sector.

“A month and a half ago, I was fired from Vogue,” Ms. Chambers told Vestoj’s founder and editor in chief, Anja Aronowsky Cronberg, referring to her removal by Edward Enninful, who was hired to replace the longtime editor in chief, Alexandra Shulman, in April.

“It took them three minutes to do it,” Ms. Chambers said in the interview. “No one in the building knew it was going to happen. The management and the editor I’ve worked with for 25 years had no idea. Nor did H.R. Even the chairman told me he didn’t know it was going to happen. No one knew, except the man who did it — the new editor.”

After conceding that the fashion industry could “chew you up and spit you out,” Ms. Chambers went on to criticize some of the “crap” magazine cover shoots that she had produced (saying the blame lay in part with Vogue’s allegiances to major advertisers), and the mismanagement of the fashion brand Marni, where she had once worked. She also suggested that Vogue had become an increasingly uninspiring read.

“Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years,” she said. “Maybe I was too close to it after working there for so long, but I never felt I led a Vogue-y kind of life. The clothes are just irrelevant for most people — so ridiculously expensive.”

“What magazines want today is the latest, the exclusive,” she continued. “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 buying.

Many industry power players in Paris were tight-lipped after the article was published, including Mr. Enninful, who said he had “no comment” about the interview as he sat in the front row of the Chanel show on Tuesday. An hour later, Condé Nast, the publisher that owns the Vogue titles, released a short statement that contradicted Ms. Chambers’ account of the end of her employment there.

“It’s usual for an incoming editor to make some changes to the team,” the statement said. “Any changes made are done with the full knowledge of senior management.”

Dozens of readers, meanwhile, were quick to praise Ms. Chambers’s candor. Her profile outside the sector increased after her star turn last year in “Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue,” a BBC documentary in which she won legions of fans thanks to her upfront approach, artistic vision and eccentric yet elegant fashion sense.

Julie Zerbo, of the website the Fashion Law, looked beyond the reader reaction and to the possible legal fallout, wondering on Twitter if Ms. Chambers might be sued:

And then at lunchtime on Tuesday, the tale took a further twist when the article reappeared online.

“Due to the sensitive nature of this article, we took the decision to temporarily remove it from the site, but have now republished it in its entirety,” Ms. Aronowsky Cronberg explained in an email to The New York Times.

“In terms of the reasons why it was removed, they are directly related to the industry pressures which Lucinda discusses in her interview,” she continued. “As you know, fashion magazines are rarely independent because their existence depends on relationships with powerful institutions and individuals, whether it’s for tickets to shows, access in order to conduct interviews or advertising revenue.”

“We created Vestoj to be an antidote to these pressures, but we are not always immune,” Ms. Aronowsky Cronberg added. “We hope Lucinda’s republished interview will spark a discussion which might, in her words, lead to a more ‘empowering and useful’ fashion media.”

Ms. Chambers could not be reached for comment.

Why is Lucinda Chambers airing Vogue's dirty laundry?
The magazine’s long-serving former fashion director has vented her fury in a bracingly candid online interview, claiming she was unceremoniously sacked by the new editor

Tuesday 4 July 2017 14.22 BST Last modified on Tuesday 4 July 2017 22.00 BST

Age: 57.

Appearance: Fabulous, darling.

Let me see … she sounds like she could be a late-starting lady novelist whose risqué debut is selling like hot cakes in Berkshire and beyond? No.

Former mistress of Prince Philip? Nope.

Current mistress of Prince Philip? No. She’s the erstwhile fashion director of British Vogue.

Why erstwhile? She claims she was fired, after 36 years at Vogue and 25 years as fashion director, by new editor Edward Enninful. She reckons it took him three minutes.

That must have stung. She gave a bracingly candid interview to niche journal Vestoj in which she managed to get a few things off her chest.

Ooh, like what? Like doing a “crap” cover with Alexa Chung in a “stupid Michael Kors T-shirt” because “he’s a big advertiser, so I knew why I had to”.

What else? About the industry’s inability to nurture creative talent any more (“I’m thinking of one fashion editor in particular … he will wrongfoot you and wrongfoot you”). About how magazines used to be useful and are now increasingly irrelevant. How far people get on confidence rather than ability in a world beset by insecure people who are too scared to say when someone’s rubbish (one stylist she worked with many years ago was “just terrible. But in fashion you can go far if you look fantastic and confident – no one wants to be the one to say ‘but they’re crap’”).

Cor! Oh, and how she hasn’t actually read Vogue herself for years.

Amazing! Where can I read this stellar-sounding interview? Well, it’s a moving story.

What? It went up on vestoj.com on Monday morning and promptly came down that afternoon. Now it’s back online again with a note from the editor: “Due to the sensitive nature of this article, we took the decision to temporarily remove it from the site.”

May we infer that legal communications abounded in the interim? You may infer whatever you wish. If cease-and-desist letters are named accessory of the season in next month’s edition, then we’ll know.

Any other gossip? Having replaced Alexandra Shulman, editor-in-chief of 25 years, Enninful is likely to want to shake up the title. He pipped deputy editor Emily Sheffield, part of the magazine’s posh-girl old guard, to the role.

Is she a posh girl? She’s Samantha Cameron’s sister.

I see. England really does have only seven families in it, doesn’t it? At most. At most.

Do say: “They never have this trouble at Primark.”

Don’t say: “Whatever you want, if you’ve got a non-disparagement clause in your 

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