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Deputy Style Editor, Mary Richardson, writes a tribute to Alexandra Shulman, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue.

I was asked to write a tribute to my style icon for Epigram, and while Alexandra  Shulman might not historically have held that position, her imminent departure from Vogue has highlighted her as iconic in my eyes. Having held fashion’s top role role for a full quarter of its 100 year print run, Shulman has transformed the face, or rather cover, of Vogue, increasing its circulation by 12%. Aside from her longstanding success, what is it about the editor-in-chief of British Vogue that makes her so special?

In her time at Vogue she has fabricated definite change within the fashion industry, and has been named in the top 100 most powerful women in the UK by the BBC. She championed London as the new fashion capital of the world as Vogue heralded British labels to be worthy of a global presence. She has critiqued the fashion industry’s use of size zero models and just last month placed Ashley Graham, a plus size model, on the magazine’s cover. Furthermore, one issue (November 2016) omitted professional models in favour of ‘normal people’ and celebrities.


In an age of rhinoplasty and ‘steamed veg and lean proteins’, Vogue has steered clear of featuring cosmetic surgery and diets in its pages. These are only waves, but coming from such an influential figure they are are bound to effect change. Shulman has indeed been criticised in the past for romanticising the now established ‘heroin chic’ look, but it was a trend which brought Kate Moss to the public eye, Britain’s best known model who has now graced 37 of the magazine’s covers.

Shulman has established the British capital and British fashion as truly iconic, her version of Vogue exuding home grown quirk and eccentricity.  Of course, Anna Wintour of US Vogue also boasts similar accolades concerning an impressive circulation of the magazine, not to mention power within the industry and beyond. Yet one of Shulman’s main appeals is that she is relatable, far from the steely stereotype that is Wintour, whose incredibly lithe physique, steely demeanour and indoor sunglasses inspired the protagonist of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.


Contrary to her glossy career, Shulman admits she ‘drives a Toyota’ and has spoken about her anxiety in the past.  In the best way possible, she could be your own glamorous but down to earth mum. Even if I don’t go into journalism, I would hope to become somewhat like Shulman in my own future. Humble and self-deprecating, she would almost certainly deny the massive effect she has had on British fashion and journalism. And yet she remains an indisputable trailblazer, massively affecting the face of the industry. There is no doubt that her departure leaves an impossible act to follow.


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