What I Learned From Reading A Vogue Editor’s Diary

photo: Vogue


The inner workings of Vogue are always fascinating. If you watched the recent documentary, you’ll have got a fascinating glimpse into the rivalry between US and UK Vogue, and how to make a magazine. When I heard that UK Vogue’s Editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman was releasing her diary, I had to download it to my kindle and start highlighting, what does it mean to be an editor? What are her fears, hopes, and worries?

Hearing about a successful woman’s life through her own words is so inspiring. Here are a few things I learned from her . . .

Fashion and technology are involved in a mating game

“Fashion and technology are involved in a mating game Each wants what the other has and increasingly, fashion businesses are hiring people with tech expertise, and vice versa.”

We all know that technological skills are invaluable this year, we know that the whole Vogue vs bloggers debate is one aspect of fashion coming into the 21st century and embracing the internet and technology. Nowadays publications need coders and a tech department to make things happen. The business of fashion has never been so diverse!

We need to slow down

“Given how quickly everything moves, I’m not sure we need to do everything just because it’s there. Perhaps it would be worth waiting to see how things pan out for others, rather than jump on the driftwood because it’s something to cling to.”

This diary showed me just how busy Alexandra actually is, flitting from country to country, from appointment to appointment, and fitting in family time and a broken boiler too. She isn’t shy about her fears (flying!) and she manages to find time to go for a run. She doesn’t make time for things she doesn’t like, but she does believe we all need to slow down a little.

Don’t plan too far in advance

“A great deal of what we publish is expensive to create so I’m limited in what I can ditch completely, especially fashion shoots. Often I’m surprised by the result, which is one of the things I most enjoy about editing. It’s why I hate to plan too far in advance or not leave room for things to change.”

I think this is quite interesting advice. Alexandra never prepares stories that can be used at any time because she goes off them, she prefers everything they prepare to be time-sensitive and current. I think it can also be a metaphor for real life, planning too far ahead doesn’t leave enough room for change!

Having too much to do can make anyone anxious 

Alexandra’s to-do list is exhaustive, just a peek of it is enough to make me dizzy:

Plot the whole Centenary issue of the magazine
Fill the April issue
Write March issue editor’s letter
Map out May issue
Buy another twenty Christmas gifts 
Organize food for Christmas lunch 
Deliver gifts to my family 

Unsurprisingly the next day Alexandra is plagued by dreams that she didn’t know what season’s clothes they were meant to be shooting. Not only does she have a lot to do, but she has a lot of pressure on her. Including a meeting with the Duchess of Cambridge which was weighing on her mind heavily. It just goes to show that even women you think have mastered their to-do lists and get everything done suffer from anxieties and fears.

Celebrities are people too 

Alexandra details a lot of meetings that give us an access all areas pass into her life, so seeing celebrities through her eyes was quite interesting, if you’ve ever been intrigued about what goes on behind closed doors – this will satisfy you. From Alexa Chung to Victoria Beckham and all the major players in between, Alexandra brings them to life. 

“Just at that moment Kate Moss decided to do a Kate and treated everyone to a burlesque dance above the decks to the delight of all on the dance floor, captured on a hundred smartphones.” 

She didn’t like the documentary

“Are there moments I really hate? Yes. The whole saga of the swapping of the Rihanna cover with the previous issue because of American Vogue jumping ahead of us is given a ludicrous weight, and when Richard says to camera that I rang threatening to pull the whole film if he talked to Anna Wintour about it, I felt misrepresented. It was the one really devious thing he did. Of course, in the documentary when Anna is filmed she is hugely complimentary, which makes me look even sillier.”

During the BBC documentary, you see the fierce rivalry between Anna Wintour and Alexandra Shulman represented when Alexandra discovers US Vogue is using Rihanna as their cover star when UK Vogue was supposed to run her first. Panic ensues. Alexandra doesn’t agree with the way she’s presented and thinks of herself as lighter and funnier than portrayed. It’s quite interesting to watch the documentary and then read about what happened from her perspective!

Receive our latest tips into your inbox


  • Natalie Harney

    Such interesting insights into the life and mind of such a successful lady

    – Natalie

    • Yeah it’s really cool. I speed read it for this article but I’m going over it again now to actually immerse. I love diaries/biographies.

  • Charmaine Ng

    I must be living on another planet because I didn’t know of the rivalry, haha!

    • I think it’s friendly competition haha! :)

  • Ariadna Morell

    This was such an interesting post!! x

    Ariadna || RAWR BOWS

  • Stephanie Rogers

    I hadn’t heard of the documentary or the book but I know what I’ll be watching tonight and what I’ll be looking for in the book shop! Thanks for the enlightening post. It was actually super useful to me as I’m currently looking for an internship in magazine publishing.

    Steph x


Get On The LIST



Join the CGD team for all things fashion, beauty, career and everything us CGD girls are up to!