End of an Era: Alexandra Shulman

Isabelle Bettany commends the career of fashion bible British Vogue’s Editor-In-Chief

Isabelle Bettany
13th February 2017

One of the biggest names in fashion, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, announced earlier this month that her 25-year reign over the publication would come to an end later this year.


Shulman began her successful career in the media at Over-21 magazine, later working at numerous publications such as; Tatler, The Sunday Telegraph, GQ magazine and finally Vogue, the job that changed the face of British fashion.

If you Google Shulman, most sources corroborate in agreement that throughout her twenty five years of leadership, the magazine has gone from strength to strength. She has guided the infamous publication through the highest circulation it has ever seen, as well as establishing it as a brand that constantly evolves with the ever-changing digitalization of 21st century society. Managing director of Conde Nast Britain, (which owns British Vogue as well as many other publications such as; GLAMOUR, GQ and Vanity Fair) Nicolas Coleridge, has described Shulman as “the most successful editor of Vogue in its 100 year history”.

“She has guided the infamous publication through the highest circulation it has ever seen, as well as establishing it as a brand that constantly evolves with the
ever-changing digitalisation of 21st century society”

During her time as editor, Shulman has never shied away from the controversies as well as the joys within the Fashion industry. Here are a few we think deserve to be mentioned:

Celebrating Diversity: In November 2016 Shulman oversaw the execution of “The Real Issue” of Vogue. The magazine did not include a single model but encouraged the celebration of all types of women, from photographers, actors and employees at Vogue, as well as people entirely unrelated to the fashion industry.

Brains over Beauty: Shulman’s interest in shifting the emphasis and importance placed on beauty has frequently been expressed during her time as editor. She has previously explained that for those “whose identities are bound up in their good looks” the aging process is a terrifying ordeal and therefore we must attempt to transgress the association we have between being successful and being attractive.

Size zero is not a size: The size of models is an omnipresent subject within the fashion industry and yet time and time again designers continue to use models of an unattainable and dangerous size. Shulman however has frequently and publically criticized this choice, imploring designers to take accountability for the impact the inclusion of models this size has on society. More recently Shulman openly condemned the fashion houses who refused to dress size 16 model Ashley Graham, who features on their cover for the January 2017 issue.

No to Diets: Shulman has repeatedly expressed her lack of inclination to include any diet plans, details and products within British Vogue. She has also ensured that nothing regarding cosmetic surgery is included within the prestigious publication, stating in an interview with the Evening Standard, ‘I really strongly believe in women being encouraged to be however they want to be, but I’m not there to sell them the idea that they have to do artificial things to themselves or go on stringent diets to make themselves attractive. Because I don’t belive it”.

If you are interested in gaining an insight into Shulman’s exclusive world, I would really recommend watching the recent BBC documentary ‘Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue.’

Whilst it’s not clear as of yet who will take over Shulman (although rumours suggest it will be Emily Sheffield – Vogue’s current deputy editor, who also happens to be Samantha Cameron’s sister) what is clear is that person has some big, but fashionable nonetheless, shoes to fill.


Five of Shulman’s Top Achievements whilst Editor-In-Chief at British Vogue:

1999: The ‘millennium’ issue- Vogue’s highest selling issue - with a mirror styled cover, making it appear as though the Vogue reader is the cover star

2005: Received an OBE for her contribution to the British fashion industry

2009: Publically condemned designer brands for their extreme sample sizes

2013: Listed as one of the UK’s 100 most influential women by the BBC’s Women’s Hour

2016: Secured the Duchess of Cambridge as the cover star for Vogue’s centenary issue


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