Vogue UK December 2017

Vogue UK December 2017 Great Britain

t was in April this year that I got the news I’d been chosen as the new editor-in-chief of Vogue, the 11th in the magazine’s 101-year history. Jonathan Newhouse, chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International, broke the news to me over lunch in a Midtown restaurant in New York. I remember my first thoughts being of my late mother – who came to this country as an immigrant with my father and their six young children – and how proud she would have been. She was a seamstress and always loved fashion – just as I have always loved Vogue. To be trusted with such an iconic title and legacy was overwhelming but really exciting. Having lived and worked off and on in New York for more than a decade, I was pleased to find that the country I’ve returned to is still the place where, as a young man growing up in west London, dreaming of fashion, I could find inspiration on every street. But something else seemed clear to me: these days everybody has a strong opinion about what the next phase of British life should look like. Certainly I do. So I was determined that my first issue of Vogue would be a true celebration of Britain. But what should such a celebration look like in 2017? This is a country built on tradition, but – much like fashion – one that is forever changing. The time seemed right to redefine what Vogue can mean today. To open it up. So I present to you the British Issue: a tribute to our country and to a group of people who brilliantly represent it, both at home and on the world stage. Whatever your views are on Brexit, there is surely one thing we can all agree on: we are a talented bunch. We are also diverse. I hope you will be as gratified as I am to note how many of the amazing names featured on these pages didn’t necessarily begin their lives here, or were perhaps born into families who emigrated here a generation or two ago (like my own). Regardless of where they were born or how they got here, however, they all share huge pride in their homeland, with an outlook that is pleasingly global. Take Zadie Smith, one of our finest international literary stars, who I commissioned to write about no less a figure than Her Majesty the Queen. Read her brilliant piece, “Mrs Windsor”, on page 135. Or Salman Rushdie, who as a young boy from Bombay arrived at an English boarding school in the 1950s and now, several decades on, writes about how Christmas works in his multi-faith family (“In the Spirit”, page 143). It goes without saying that fashion can never be inward-looking, and our talent is world-class. Whether it’s the extraordinary success story of a British heritage label in the digital age, as with Christopher Bailey at Burberry, or Victoria Beckham turning a personal brand into a worldwide fashion force, in “Back to My Roots” on page 282, some of our best-known designers explain how their British roots shaped them as creatives. It tickles me that Victoria even agreed to be interviewed in her childhood bedroom, while her mother, Jackie, made the tea. I also assembled a team of Vogue’s friends (both old and new) and asked them to try to put their fingers on what it is exactly that makes this country so special (“Love Letters to Britain”, page 207). From original Swinging Sixties icon Twiggy to her modern incarnation Cara Delevingne, pop megastar Zayn Malik to new Vogue contributing editor (and Oscar-winning film­maker) Steve McQueen, they all write with such affection about their very different experiences of this country. (Safe to say that Alexander McQueen, yorkshire puddings, Kate Bush and wet pavements are all namechecked.) Perhaps one of the features I’m most proud of in my first issue is sending my dear friend Naomi Campbell to interview London mayor Sadiq Khan (page 185). Aside from being one of the greatest models who has ever lived – to say nothing of her tireless work as a philanthropist – Naomi is also a gifted interviewer. Hearing her and Sadiq reflect on their parallel lives growing up as young, talented people of colour in Britain is both illuminating and inspiring. Expect to see more of Naomi’s interviews, as she joins fellow fashion icon Kate Moss as a contributing editor. And then, of course, we come to fashion. Be sure of this: my Vogue will be the fashion bible. Since my early career as a stylist, I have lived and breathed fashion, and my journey to get to this point has been a long one. For the past 25 years, I have been lucky to collaborate closely with many of the greatest names in the business, be they the extraordinary designers I have worked with, the supermodels who have defined their times, or the magazines whose pages I have helped to shape (W, Italian Vogue, American Vogue and i-D). I was very honoured to be awarded an OBE in 2016 for my services to diversity in the fashion industry. In my work, I have always tried to push the boundaries of what fashion can do. Today’s consumer wants more than garments on a page and shopping lists (though you must never go shopping without Vogue’s definitive edit). Fashion is a conversation, the continual dialogue between you, the Vogue reader, and the times we live in, fusing fashion with art, politics and society. These days, that conversation does not end with the magazine. I have been a champion for digital and social media content for more than a decade, and am excited for the next stage. At Vogue.co.uk you will find all the daily news and trend updates, but also curated video content built around the magazine, including insightful interviews and stunning fashion films. The team I have put together for Vogue and the experiences they bring reflect how the magazine will move forward. I am delighted to welcome the inimitable Venetia Scott, who joins as fashion director. Venetia’s extraordinary career – from being one of the original super-stylists of the 1990s and former creative director for Marc Jacobs to celebrated photographer and global tastemaker – made her the perfect fit. The respect for her within the industry is unparalleled. I could not be prouder of Venetia and the editorial team, nor of our blockbuster list of contributing photographers in this issue – including Juergen Teller, Patrick Demarchelier and Bruce Weber. I am so thrilled that Steven Meisel – my long-time collaborator – agreed to photograph his first cover and editorial story for a British magazine in 25 years (“Adwoa”, on page 240). Never forget that it sometimes takes a foreigner’s eye to capture Britain most clearly. Photographer Craig McDean, meanwhile, is a brilliant Brit who understands his country perfectly (“On the Street Where You Live”, page 310). His forensically beautiful photos, styled by Alastair McKimm, have as much to say about the way we dress now as they do about the people who are wearing the clothes. And, of course, this is British Vogue – so there’s always room for an eccentric flourish. In “GingerNutz”, on page 320, legendary stylist Grace Coddington, another new contributing editor, dresses illustrator Michael Roberts’s model orangutan in couture. The talented Johan Svensson, previously of Vogue Paris and W, joins us as creative director. His expert eye has helped to create the beautiful marriage of visuals and typography of the new layout. Our mission statement was to bring you an old friend with a fresh face; a modern refresh that feels feminine, chic and ultimately classic. I hope you are as pleased with the result as I am. Of course, everyone has been asking me who I would pick for my first cover girl. I only ever had one woman in mind. I’ve known the soon-to-be supermodel and activist Adwoa Aboah since she was a child. Elite but accessible, uptown yet downtown, high fashion but street smart – with her digital forum Gurls Talk, Adwoa is also leading the fashion conversation for women into the modern era. Welcome to your #NewVogue. Enjoy!
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