Friday 20th April saw British Vogue launch their inaugural Vogue Festival over at the Royal Geographic Society in London. PDD went along to see what the fuss was about and to hear what some of the fashion industry’s biggest players had to say.
After an interesting kick-off thanks to British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Schulman and Christopher Bailey, Chief Creative Officer of Burberry I rushed over to the Education Room to ensure I got a seat for the next talk of the day, ‘Make it Happen’, which focused on entrepreneurial spirit. The panellists were Alex Brownsell, co-owner of the very trendy Bleach hair salon, Hanna Hanra a freelance music and style journalist and now Editor of The Beat Magazine and Jaime Perlman, Art Director at British Vogue and editor of testmag.co.uk.
The talk was quick and sharp, with questions being dished out by Vogue Fashion Editor Francesca Burns. All three women are relatively new to the world of business-owning, their endeavours achieved through the tried and tested method of ‘baptism by fire’. The general consensus and advice to those looking to start this own thing was to stay focused, work hard, utilise your network and delegate where possible to keep control of the creative element of your business. Short and sweet but with interesting insights packed in.
After racing back over to the Theatre I hurriedly took a seat for the next round of talks. ‘My Fashion Life’ was a panel made up of Vogue’s long-standing Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers, the notoriously thorough Casting Director, Russell Marsh, Chief Merchant at Harrods, Marigay McKee and Fashion Designer, Matthew Williamson.
Each panel member took to the podium to talk through their journey in the fashion industry, from the starting points in their careers to what they are up to on a day to day basis. Each panellist was engaging and had stories filled with interesting anecdotes but for me it was Lucinda Chambers dry take on the fashion industry which stole the show with one of her sterling quotes:
“I’m not one of these people that read Vogue from the womb, I didn’t care about fashion”.
Matthew Williamson also has an interesting story, speaking candidly about how his mother was his first muse, and her attention to detail when it came to her own appearance.
Marigay McKee’s job as Chief Merchant for Harrods means that she is always on the pulse when it comes to the latest and most important fashion and accessories trends. What added an interesting slant to McKee’s fashion life was the new attention given to different cultural nuances which she has to cater for more and more as London becomes increasingly filled with global wealth.
Russell Marsh’s to-the-point and steely demeanour showed off a glimpse of how he is unrivalled when it comes to casting the best faces for campaigns and fashion shows for huge global brands such as Miu Miu.
After a very quick break chairs were taken away and the ‘My fashion life’ panel were replaced with heavy-weight TV broadcaster Kirsty Young whose role was to interview (and interrogate) renowned ‘Domestic Goddess’, Nigella Lawson. The title of the talk was ‘Women and Food’and I really felt like there was a level of unfairness when it came to the talk’s focus on Nigella Lawson’s weight. Lawson was in some cases a little ‘squirmy’, being visibly uncomfortable by some lines of questioning. Although the general message of the talk was meant well it concluded that women only have the choice ‘to be greedy, or enjoy wearing the trendiest clothes and being a small size’ – which I felt was a negative perspective and way to tackle the subject.
In summary I found the whole experience to be very full on – a lot of information, opinion and experience was shared in the five hour session, covering a lot of bases and from many people. Saying that, I left with my mind whirring, being excited and enthused by what I had seen, and quite envious that I wasn’t going to the afternoon session.