ALL GOOD THINGS…
I was 14 years old the day I first walked into the ELLE magazine offices, in the same building I write this from now. It was a daunting place, full of beautiful, glamorous, purposeful women. I was fresh from the ‘burbs and the only time I’d ever known women to look so beautiful, glamorous and purposeful was on TV – Maddie on Moonlighting, Angela in Who’s The
Boss? – but even they weren’t nearly as cool as this. The editor was terrifying. I hadn’t caught my breath before she sent me on a mission to take some Chanel bags to a shoot across town. “Guard them with your life,” she warned, without a hint of warmth or irony in her tone. Petrified, I got in a cab – my first ever without my mum – and dragged the bags to the shoot. In the studio, photographer Graham Shearer and his wife, ELLE’S French fashion director Pasha Merk – an iconic and imposing duo in Australian fashion – were shooting Elle Macpherson. At one point, for quite a long time, Elle wasn’t wearing a top. I thought it was the height of sophistication that no-one seemed mildly interested in this fact. I was allowed to sit at the table for lunch, so obviously that was the moment when I knew I’d made it. I don’t think I said anything except, “Yes, thank you” for the entire day. “Would you like some salad?” “Yes, thank you.” “Tape these shoes.” “Yes, thank you.” No-one has ever been so appreciative about being ordered to pick up a chicken and sundried tomato focaccia (it was 1990). I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, and so my fate was sealed.
That version of ELLE eventually closed down, but the international editions were always my favourite magazines and I subscribed to them, saved for them, devoured them. They were my beacon of what to wear, read, do, listen to and think. The ELLE woman – someone who was as spirited and smart as she was stylish, and probably had a filthy sense of humour – was the woman I desperately wanted to be. Eventually I was an editor myself (maybe not quite so terrifying, but 10 years of interns may beg to differ) and when I heard a rumour that the company I worked for was thinking about relaunching ELLE into the Australian market, I became a woman possessed in my determination to get the gig. It’s no spoiler to say that I did, and here we are.
That was five years ago and I am so proud of what we’ve done in that time. It’s been a real thrill to head up a magazine as committed to women as ELLE is, at a time that women have found their voices and banded together to fight for our rights in a way we never had before. It’s been an honour to edit a magazine that is allowed to be brave and playful – I’m remembering the mirror issue where we allowed the reader to be our cover star, the Gemma Ward flip cover with 35 different possibilities, the image of Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding that went around the world. I’ve loved every minute of it.
It’s now time for me to hand the baton on to someone else while I enter the next phase of my life. I do so with almost overwhelming love – for this masthead, the team who make it, and the audience who love it as much as I always have – and also quite a lot of fear, as being the editor-in-chief of ELLE, or wanting to be, has been a part of my identity long before it was ever a reality. I’m not quite sure I know who I am without it. But that’s part of the wonder of being a woman, isn’t it? Growing and evolving in ways you never knew to plan for. And the best bit of all is that now I get to be a reader and fan of ELLE again. My bet is I’ll love it even more.
“IT’S NOW TIME FOR ME TO HAND THE BATON ON TO SOMEONE ELSE”