The women who tell you what to wear ...

... wouldn't be seen dead in it. Cora Mann turns the spotlights on fashion editors' own wardrobes

Cora Mann
Sunday 23 October 2011 03:32

LIME GREEN chiffon, corsets as outerwear, skin-tight PVC, crop- tops. Hah. Such aberrations are for you, the punter, to wear. Anyone who thinks that fashion journalists actually wear any of those trends they devote their pages to is sadly mistaken. Fashion editors, gathering in London this week for the London shows, would not be seen dead in anything too outre. They wear so much black that most could go straight from catwalk show to funeral, if need be. Even though most fashion types are aware that black on black, accessorised with black, possibly with sunglasses, is a cliche, the audiences at such events are normally a sea of noir.

However, working in fashion doesn't necessarily mean drop-dead chic. "At the Galliano show where he was doing all those dogtooth suits with padding at the hips, the person in front of me, who shall remain nameless, was wearing a rip-off from a high-street store," says one journalist, not entirely ungleefully. "It was so tight that I spent the whole show transfixed by this zip half-way down her bottom."

And there are mavericks. "Someone like Alexandra Shulman [Vogue] doesn't do the black power-suit thing. She's normally dressed quite comfortably," says another insider. How very sensible ... "but she never looks quite right, she's always a bit crumpled."

The Telegraph's Hilary Alexander has been known to turn up in a headband with feathers hanging off it (plus shades); at Chanel she wore a dicky bow (no shirt), in the style of great British eccentrics like Isabella Blow. Juliet Warkentin of Marie Claire favours British designers "so she often turns up in some kind of weird experimental thing" according to one fashion insider.

On only one occasion, though, have the entire fashion flock en masse been known to wholeheartedly practise what they preach in their pages. Brown, it seems, really is the new black. At the Paris pret-a-porter collections last October, they were all kitted out in varying shades - mocha, toffee, chocolate, caramel, camel. Even Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the Herald Tribune and doyenne of them all, who normally favours Chanel (black), was seen in a brown velvet jacket trimmed in fur. "It was quite shocking," says one fashion writer. "With all that colour around, no wonder we needed our sunglasses."

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