The Shulman Effect: Alexandra Shulman's career-defining moments
As Edward Enninful takes the helm at British Vogue, we look back to five key moments in Shulman’s glittering legacy en vogue
Whether you consider fashion's prominent figureheads to be aspirational or just plain self-paroidic, it is undeniable that Shulman has always been slightly at odds with Anna Wintour-esque stereotyping of fashion's elite.
Elegant and formidable in her own right, Shulman juxtaposes her American counterpart not just in aesthetics but in reigning ideology. She exudes a ‘buy what you love’ mantra rather than projecting hard-lined discipline, and appears in notably less FROW pics amongst poised, Yeezy-clad A-listers. And yet, her autonomy from the hard and unsmiling nature of the fashion world has not infringed upon British Vogue’s success during her reign.
Shulman's successor Edward Enninful comes from W magazine to edit our fashion bible on 1 August. Until then, we look back to five career-defining moments, in Shulman’s glittering legacy en vogue.
1. Elton John and Liz Hurley's Cover Issue, 2002
In a moment when Elton John was particularly vocal about gay rights, Alexandra Shulman made the important move to heighten his visibility by putting him on the cover with his BFF, Liz Hurley in a fabulously fun and party-centric scene. With this, Elton became the first openly gay cover-star to grace British Vogue. One to be celebrated.
2. Bringing fashion's shortcomings to the fore
In November 2016, Shulman pioneered a ‘model-free’ issue of the publication - selecting a number of professionals (academics, executives and Crossrail workers aplenty) to model the latest trends. This was a big deal, grabbing Fashion back from its perscribed vacuum of frivolity and placing it decidedly within reality. Prior to this, Shulman put Adele on the cover in 2011 and oversaw the fronting of Ashley Graham on January '17's issue - both without obtuse headlines that screamed 'PLUS-SIZE.' Plus, there was that stern open-letter to Lagerfeld-and-co pleading for more realistic sample sizes. All very good indeed.
3. Vogue 100: A Century of Style
Schulman worked alongside curator Robin Muir to create a blockbuster exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. It showcased a phenomenal range of photography commissioned by British Vogue since its birth in 1916, with over 280 prints plucked from the mythical Condé Nast archive and brought together to create a massive, tangible visual-timeline of the life, spirit and progression of the publication.
4. The Centenary Issue
A milestone indeed - Shulman oversaw the publication of the 100th issue of British Vogue with its smiling Duchess of Cambridge. A flick-through saw a series of Vogue predictions for the next 50 years of fashion (and who could be better informed?) as well as the enlightened musings of friends of the publication recalling alumni who forged new directions and trajectories for them personally. The issue was accompanied with the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, as well as by Shulman's book Inside Vogue: A Diary Of My 100th Year.
5. British Vogue became more personable with a BBC documentary:
In September 2016 the BBC aired ‘Absolutely Fashion: Inside Vogue’ - a program which saw documentary-maker Richard Macer fumbling after Schulman through the famed Hanover Square HQ, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mario Testino, Lucinda Chambers and Victoria Beckham. Bickering, trans-Atlantic power play and humorous moments injected vitality, friendliness and character into the public perception of the publication.
To see other progressive moments in Vogue's history click here.