Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue

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Alexandra Shulman, Editor-in-Chief at British Vogue. Photo: vogue.co.uk Credit: Linda Brownlee

It took 100 years to open their doors, but would the fashion bible ever share its secrets?

It’s safe to say there’s not a lot of glamour in my life at the moment. Style is scant, elegance is exiguous. September Vogue has been woefully neglected along with its mates August, July and June Issues and summer trends, although eagerly observed, blew right past me.

As I write this I’m lunching, keeping one eye on baby Evan via the Baby Monitor App and gulping down my one-mug-of-caffeine-tea-as-per-NHS-guidelines as if someone’s going to take it away from me. There’s a dollop of peanut butter on my just-washed jeans and let’s not mention my crazy hair.

So the news that a BBC Two documentary series is about to air portraying life at British Vogue as it celebrates its centenary year is music to my ears. (The only music in fact, I’m eating in total silence apart from the occasional clattering of fork on plate in case the radio wakes the baby). I literally sat up for the first time in ages and felt enthused about watching something I have a bona fide interest in.

The first episode of the two-part documentary Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue, will broadcast on Thursday 8 September at 9.00 pm and promises to show what Vogue wears and what Vogue eats (can you even imagine?! I can’t, but would bet my Marc Jacobs bag it’s not peanut butter on toast).

It was shot by award-winning filmmaker Richard Macer (in association with his company Platform Productions) who, for the first time in British Vogue’s 100 year history, was granted unprecedented access to the magazine’s daily life over a nine month period. Macer’s footage includes one-on-one interviews with editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman and her power team of editors and key contributors, major fashion photoshoots and international shows. He also captured the every day running of the office as they prepared for and started to commemorate 100 years of the world’s most influential and celebrated fashion publication.

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Lucinda Chambers, Fashion Director at British Vogue. Photo: vogue.co.uk Credit: Linda Brownlee 

The documentary series promises to go behind the scenes and “uncover the world of high fashion like never before” and provide viewers with a candid and fascinating insight into an ever-changing industry. Episode one takes us to the end of the Spring/Summer 2017 fashion shows in September 2015. We get to follow Shulman and her creative heads – including Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers (who I imagine takes on the role of the magnetic Grace Coddington), Creative Director Jaime Perlman, Fashion Features Director Sarah Harris, Editor-at-Large Fiona Golfar, and the wider Vogue team. Later on in the series, Macer’s camera observes some of the fashion world’s most popular characters on set, including Edie Campbell, Mario Testino and of course Kate Moss who has appeared on more British Vogue covers than anyone else. What would a fashion documentary be without Moss?

I cannot wait to watch it. I imagine Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue to be like The September Issue with a huge dose of British eccentricity and dazzle. I’m expecting huge characters, unfettered style and plenty of fabulous melodrama. For years I’ve wandered through London’s Hanover Square and seen Vogue House looming in all its palatial glory, contemplating what it’s actually like to run the UK’s style bible; how big decisions are made, exactly where inspirational shoots are prepped and great features are concocted and tried to get a peek through the doors in vain, so I’ll be glad for the virtual tour.

You can watch the trailer below (did anyone else feel a bit nervous when the great Alexandra Shulman said “have you got a pass?”), although it provides only a tantalising excerpt, and The Guardian’s Morwenna Ferrier was lucky enough to get a sneak preview which you can read about here.

The preface on the BBC Two website explains “the films observe a world not just intent of celebrating the glories of the past, but also facing up to the challenges of an uncertain future”. It asks “With Instagram and other social media starting to challenge the magazine’s exalted position, can Shulman keep it on top?”.

I have no doubt. The magazine in my opinion remains as powerful and exciting as it has ever been. It influences and inspires, it provides a heady escape from the norm and an endorsement from Vogue magazine guarantees continuing success for labels, models and brands. I continue to buy and collect the print version on a monthly basis as well as devour the digital content.160730-02I’ll happily be at one of my closest friends’ wedding celebrations when the documentary airs on Thursday (surrounded by glitzy ladies with a little Evan attached to me and timing my quaffing of champers around feeding) but will catch on iPlayer as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching half hour snippets of The September Issue in preparation (whilst doing some ironing. Oh the glamour).

Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue on BBC Two starts on Thursday, 8th September at 9pm.

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