As someone who’s lovingly flipped through the pages of Vogue for a decade, I knew I had to watch the new two-part BBC documentary series ‘Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue’. Film maker Richard Macer gained insider access to the famous offices in Hanover Square and gathered plenty of material for an irresistible peek into the frenetic and fascinating world of fashion.
What I found most uplifting was the fact that the iconic powerhouse of Vogue is propelled almost entirely by women. With that in mind, it saddens me that fashion is often conflated with vacuity and frivolity. It’s a huge business requiring the talent and skill of thousands of individuals, yet it’s so often derided for being vain and insubstantial. In the words of Greta Christina, “fashion is one of the very few forms of expression in which women have more freedom than men. And I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s typically seen as shallow, trivial, and vain […] it’s a subtle but definite form of sexism to take one of the few forms of expression where women have more freedom, and treat it as a form of expression that’s inherently superficial and trivial.”
Despite inverting societal norms in terms of gender, there was still a disheartening lack of diversity in the Vogue offices: from the employees to the cover girls. Vogue’s demographic doesn’t consist solely of white females, so it would be hugely beneficial to represent the readership more accurately in the workplace. When a more varied group of people come together to creatively collaborate, richer ideas are born and there’s less risk of ossification.
All in all, I found part 1 of the documentary to be a very interesting and entertaining insight into the world of Vogue. I particularly enjoyed the story of how fashion director Lucinda Chambers met world famous photographer Mario Testino; two young, penniless individuals sharing lunch vouchers and striving to get their big break. A humbling and reassuring reminder that success doesn’t happen overnight.
Roll on part 2…Wintour is coming…