The fashion world isn’t best known for candid moments of reflection, especially when it comes to things that haven’t gone particularly well. It is refreshing, therefore, to read this interview on fashion site Vestoj with Lucinder Chambers, Vogue’s fashion director for 25 years, who was unceremoniously fired by incoming editor Edward Enninful earlier this year.
The company announced the move as if she herself had decided to leave the magazine. She tells a very different story, however, one in which she describes the truth of her situation as something not to be ashamed by, but a natural pitfall of being part of such a fickle industry.
“A month and a half ago I was fired from Vogue,” she told the site. “ It took them three minutes to do it. No one in the building knew it was going to happen. The management and the editor I’ve worked with for twenty-five years had no idea. Nor did HR. 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. Afterwards I walked out and ran into the publisher. ‘Oh Lucinda! How are you?’ I told him I’d just been fired. He said, ‘Outrageous! Ridiculous! Crazy!’”
And we can all learn from one of the most successful fashion directors of all time about failing with style.
Here’s the part that grabbed us most from the interview:
“If you want good results, you have to support people. You don’t get the best out of anyone by making them feel insecure or nervous. Ultimately, that way of treating people is only about control. If you make someone feel nervous, you’ve got them. But in my view, you’ve got them in the wrong way. You’ve got them in a state of anxiety. I’m thinking of one fashion editor in particular: it’s his modus operandi. He will wrong-foot you and wrong-foot you, and have everyone going, ‘Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.’
“You’re not allowed to fail in fashion – especially in this age of social media, when everything is about leading a successful, amazing life. Nobody today is allowed to fail, instead the prospect causes anxiety and terror. But why can’t we celebrate failure? After all, it helps us grow and develop. I’m not ashamed of what happened to me. If my shoots were really crappy… Oh I know they weren’t all good – some were crappy. The June cover with Alexa Chung in a stupid Michael Kors T-shirt iscrap. 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. Ok, whatever. But there were others… There were others that were great.”
You can read the interview in full on Vestoj here.
Until then, we’ll be channelling our inner Lucinda Chambers in the near future.