‘What is im­por­tant in a DRESS is the WOMAN wear­ing it’ - YVES SAINT LAU­RENT

ELLE (UK) - - Editor’s Letter -

EV­ERY­ONE has at least one woman in their life who has served as a role model or in­spi­ra­tion. Most have a few. Mine, for ex­am­ple, in­clude a range of bril­liant women, from Patti Smith (the epit­ome of cool) and Diane Keaton (style and wit) to Glo­ria Steinem (power woman in ev­ery sense of the word). And then there are the women in my per­sonal life, like my English and Art teach­ers at school, who made me feel like I was re­ally good at some­thing when other sub­jects proved to be more chal­leng­ing, or the late Sally Bramp­ton, the orig­i­nal ed­i­tor of ELLE, who con­tin­ues to be an in­spi­ra­tion to­day. We all need peo­ple to look up to and take life tips from. And with that in mind, we have cho­sen four women who in­spire us to be our best selves to star on four spe­cial cov­ers for our in­au­gu­ral Won­der Women is­sue.

Our first, Ash­ley Gra­ham, is a model who has nav­i­gated an in­dus­try known for de­mand­ing thin­ness on her own terms. She de­bunks the myth that curves and fash­ion are mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. Let’s hope this is just the start of a big­ger shift in at­ti­tude to body size. Be­cause whether you’re a size 8 or 18, what mat­ters most is that you are happy in your own skin. Donna Karan, another Won­der Woman who has al­ways em­braced women’s bod­ies in all their vari­a­tions, in­ter­views her on page 150.

Alek Wek’s ex­tra­or­di­nary jour­ney from South Su­danese refugee to top model and ac­tivist has been well doc­u­mented. Not only has she sus­tained a ca­reer in a no­to­ri­ously fickle in­dus­try for more than two decades, but she has of­ten spo­ken out on the sub­ject of refugees and is an am­bas­sador for the UN Refugee Agency. But it wasn’t un­til I spent time with her on the shoot for this is­sue that I dis­cov­ered her per­son­al­ity: she is one of the bright­est, fun­ni­est and warm­est women I have been lucky enough to work with, and I think our shoot re­ally cap­tures this. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

I have al­ways loved Su­san Saran­don. A mother of three, and a work­ing woman with a film ca­reer that spans five decades, she’s a true Won­der Woman (who can for­get that iconic Thelma & Louise fi­nale?). She can also rock a Saint Lau­rent jacket with more at­ti­tude than a woman half her age. If I have even a smidgeon of her grace, spark and beauty in my sev­en­ti­eth decade, I’ll be more than happy.

When Beth Ditto pre­sented an award to Chris­tine and the Queens at the ELLE Style Awards ear­lier this year, she man­aged to bring the house down (and get the mother of all par­ties started) with her ir­rev­er­ent com­edy and sheer, unadul­ter­ated chutz­pah. As well as be­ing an in­cred­i­ble mu­si­cian and per­form-tai­lor­ing er who has bro­ken down bar­ri­ers both around size and sex­u­al­ity, she is also some­one who lights up the room. Her in­ter­view with fel­low Won­der Woman Deb­bie Harry is fab­u­lous, and I’m so happy to have her in the is­sue.

As well as this all-round bril­liance and verve, these women share a sin­gu­lar sense of per­sonal style that em­anates from know­ing ex­actly who they are. In the leg­endary words of Yves Saint Lau­rent, ‘Over the years, I have learned that what is im­por­tant in a dress is the woman wear­ing it.’ But with the world of fash­ion now mov­ing at an ever-faster pace, some­times it’s easy to for­get who you are. For our fea­ture on page 188, The Clothes That Made Me, Bibby Sowray talks to a va­ri­ety of women about just that. On the sub­ject of Won­der Women, Si­mon Mills’ es­say on the women who have shaped him is a fun, in­sight­ful read from a male per­spec­tive. And Lisa Mark­well’s piece ex­plor­ing her ca­reer shift from news­pa­per ed­i­tor to trainee chef shows that chang­ing your life and tak­ing on a new chal­lenge can be both scary and thrilling in equal mea­sure. I hope this in­spires you to take a leap into the un­known and see where it takes you.

Our fash­ion pages take you through this sea­son’s clas­sics, from the rein­vented trench to the sharp, Eight­ies-in­spired trend, as well as the new way to wear denim (mix it with your glitzi­est evening pieces). Oh, and we also cov­ered Beth Ditto in flow­ers for a mo­ment of sim­ple joy, be­cause some­times per­sonal style means al­low­ing your­self to break out and let your heart sing and your soul soar. Af­ter all, true style re­ally is about feel­ing happy with who you are. So whether that in­volves fi­nally find­ing your per­fect win­ter coat, dip­ping into this sea­son’s ob­ses­sion with cow­boy boots or learn­ing to em­brace each birth­day as it comes, take in­spi­ra­tion from Su­san Saran­don, who says: ‘Sur­round your­self with peo­ple who cel­e­brate you, and go on ad­ven­tures.’ Amen to that!

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