‘No-one wants to see a real person on the cover of Vogue,’ says British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman

The editor of the world's most famous fashion title told interviewer Lily Allen she's "bored" of questions about thin models

Jenn Selby
Monday 17 March 2014 13:34
Alexandra Shulman of British magazine 'Vogue'
Alexandra Shulman of British magazine 'Vogue'

Would you buy an issue of Vogue that featured a healthily sized, unedited “real person” on the front cover?

Your answer should be a resounding ‘No’, if the British magazine’s executive editor, Alexandra Shulman, is correct in her estimations.

Shulman, who has edited the fashion magazine since 1992, said that she was “bored” with the question of why models are thin, as readers did not want to see the same thing they do when they look in the mirror on the front of the aspirational title.

Speaking during an interview with Lily Allen on BBC Radio 2, she was asked to describe her favourite covers.

"Quite often the ones I really like are the creative, arty ones. But they don't sell as well," Shulman said.

"It's a real balancing act doing a magazine, between creativity and sales.

"If I knew exactly what sold it would be like having the secret of the universe, but I'd say broadly speaking, if you're going to talk about a model or a personality, it's kind of a quite middle view of what beauty is.

"Quite conventional, probably smiling, in a pretty dress; somebody looking very 'lovely'. The most perfect girl next door."

She added: "People always say 'why do you have thin models? That's not what real people look like' but nobody really wants to see a real person looking like a real person on the cover of Vogue.

"I think Vogue is a magazine that's about fantasy to some extent and dreams, and an escape from real life.

"People don't want to buy a magazine like Vogue to see what they see when they look in the mirror. They can do that for free."

Questioned by Allen on whether she was tired of having to defend Vogue and the fashion industry from critics, she said: "I guess a certain amount of defending comes with the job.

"The magazine does really well, so obviously some people like it and it's not a real problem.

"I get fed up with having to deal with the question of why are models thin, that sort of bores me, but that's the only thing really."

Shulman had previously argued that miniscule designer samples needed to be changed. She also encouraged discussion about the social issue of body image, and the fashion industry’s accountability for it, during the annual Vogue Festival last year.

"I do think the designers should cut bigger and use bigger models on the catwalk,” she said. “I've said it again and again.

"But there is much more diversity than there used to be, it is changing.”

However, the latest issue of British Vogue currently stars famously voluptuous TV chef Nigella Lawson.

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