Reading the first couple of pages of The Vogue Factor immediately transported me back to May 2012 when the shocking news broke that Vogue Australia‘s Kirstie Clements had been unceremonially sacked making ripples in the Australian fashion world particularly sparking discussions and heated debates on Twitter. The book itself is well written, totalling 16 chapters, with each chapter discussing or focusing on a specific issue or time period during Clements’ 25 year career at Vogue; from her early years at the front desk as a receptionist, to shooting Crown Princess Mary and Prince Fredrick of Denmark and wrangling Karl Lagerfeld to guest edit the December 2003 edition of Vogue Australia to name a few. The memoir is a goldmine of advice from many facets of the world of fashion from being an editor to in working at the luxurious Vogue and the glamourous and most of the time unglamourous side of fashion, for instance Clements’ describes how she still gets cross when she looks“at fashion pages that have simply grouped items together because they’re the same colour. Everything needs to be there for a good reason. Your role as editor is to inspire and inform, not merely collate.”
Admittedly when I first began reading The Vogue Factor, I began feeling a strange sensation – one that I can only describe as seeing an event take place from two different perspectives simultaneously. What I mean by this is from an online commentator (blogger) perspective [typically being untraditional media ie. print media not really yet counted as in the fashion industry] and yet that of one that is still very much in the fashion industry.
While it is true that having the title ‘blogger’ doesn’t really resonate any journalistic integrity or value within print media, yet perhaps ironically in the past few years bloggers have been fortunate enough to be invited and seated at fashion weeks around the globe – many of which just assume its a priority or perk of being a blogger. I have never taken being invited to fashion week as a given, for me it has and always will be a privilege to attend – something that has been earned and to be valued, sadly not many bloggers feel this way with the rise of personal style bloggers and their seemingly luxurious lifestyles that fuel the rise of meaner and keener ‘fame whoring’ bloggers. That said this is only a select few who are giving bloggers a bad name so I can understand why the whole ‘bloggers vs editors’ erupted.
When I began my blog back in 2008, I started with an intention of staying true to myself and excelling at good quality fashion journalism and so when Clements touches on the emergence and rise of “the street-style photographer and blogger, the amount of ‘poseurs’ that exist outside and inside the shows has become a whole new business…Decades of experience at revered mastheads and the ability to articulate itelligently may probe to be of very little value in the near future.” – I feel conflicted. I’ve always revered and held in high respect the fashion bibles like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and thus am inclined to agree with Clements in some respects however having always been taught a journalism mentality, I find myself feeling conflicted with a foot in each camp so to speak.
Moreover Clements’ mentions how “it is harder to find honest, relevant criticism because of the new fashion commentators are relentlessly positive in their reviews… (because) they want to go to the shows” and this in a small sense is true at least for me, I mean I have given a few negative reviews on particular shows in the past though if the show wasn’t a stand out, I won’t mention it. This mentality is perhaps comically (or ironically) in line with how Vogue.com.au runs their reviews: “If the show was good, it got reviewed. Ordinary and the shots were posted, unreviewed. Bad and it didn’t appear at all.“
The Vogue Factor is a must read book for anyone wanting advice in making it in the world of fashion whether you want to start your own magazine, work your way up to eventually work at Vogue (or other masthead), a blogger or a mere fashion observer. And guess what? I’m lucky enough to be giving away a copy of The Vogue Factor right here, so what do you have to do to be in the running to win?