If the dress fits…

The writer and edi­tor on a brave new world of hot-de­sk­ing, and the great wed­ding-dress de­bate

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Life And Times -

AS THE NA­TION an­tic­i­pates the nup­tials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I’m field­ing end­less ques­tions about who will be de­sign­ing the wed­ding dress. I’ve never been a bet­ting woman, but if I were, I’d wa­ger on Ralph & Russo for the bridal gown and Roland Mouret for the evening party; though my friend and col­league Avril Mair has just raised the pos­si­bil­ity of Ric­cardo Tisci at Burberry as an out­side chance, and there’s al­ways the prospect of a beau­ti­ful goin­g­away out­fit by Er­dem. Yet much as I wish the royal cou­ple all the hap­pi­ness in the world, I must con­fess to be­ing more pre­oc­cu­pied with the events of the fol­low­ing day, 20 May, when Harper’s Bazaar launches its first ever lit­er­ary salon at The Ned ho­tel in Lon­don.

As the edi­tor of the mag­a­zine, I’m al­ways con­scious of con­tin­u­ing its re­mark­able lit­er­ary tra­di­tion – for ever since Bazaar was launched, 150 years ago, it has com­bined im­pec­ca­ble fash­ion cre­den­tials with pub­lish­ing the great­est writ­ers of the age: Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Vir­ginia Woolf, Eve­lyn Waugh, Nancy Mit­ford and Tru­man Capote. Sto­ry­telling con­tin­ues to be at the heart of Bazaar ,soit­seemsa nat­u­ral step to bring our writ­ers and read­ers to­gether: speak­ers in­clude sev­eral of our favourite con­trib­u­tors, such as Ali Smith, Tessa Hadley and Jessie Bur­ton, and there’ll be ad­vice from pub­lish­ers and agents about how to get your first book pub­lished. The con­ver­sa­tions will be ac­com­pa­nied by cham­pagne and other co­mestibles; I do hope that some of you will join us there.

THE MORN­ING AF­TER our gath­er­ing will be equally mo­men­tous, as Harper’s Bazaar moves of­fices for the first time in many years, from Soho to Le­ices­ter Square. In our new premises, we will be ‘hot-de­sk­ing’, a phrase that has al­ways filled me with dread; hence­forth our be­long­ings must be ruth­lessly pared back, in or­der to be stored in lock­ers the size of a shoe­box.

This min­i­mal­ist prospect is wor­ry­ing me, given that I am cur­rently blessed with an of­fice of my own, filled with books, flow­ers, mag­a­zines, tal­is­mans and pic­tures, along with sev­eral pairs of shoes to change into for evening events that call for high heels. We have been in­structed to de­clut­ter, in prepa­ra­tion for the mod­ern era of ‘ag­ile work­ing’, but so far, my ef­forts are dis­tinctly unim­pres­sive. How­ever, I shall en­deav­our to adapt to this brave new world, en­cour­aged by the ex­am­ple of my bold pre­de­ces­sors at Bazaar dur­ing the late 1930s and the war years.

In those days, they oc­cu­pied a May­fair flat that had not yet been con­verted into of­fices; thus the staff had to perch in the kitchen, bed­rooms and bath­room, while the draw­ing room over­flowed. Ap­par­ently when­ever the cramped con­di­tions be­came too irk­some, they would all de­camp for meet­ings at The Ritz, which was to be Bazaar’s un­of­fi­cial home from home. Through­out the ter­ri­fy­ing months of the Blitz, these ster­ling women would un­der­take roles as air war­dens by night, and then re­turn to work in the morn­ing, fol­lowed by restora­tive cock­tails for lunch.

SPEAK­ING OF COCK­TAILS, my en­ter­pris­ing hus­band has re­cently dis­cov­ered the Sa­cred Spir­its Com­pany, close to our home in High­gate, which makes a de­li­cious range of gins and a truly ex­cel­lent ne­groni. As a Lon­doner born and bred, I’ve long be­lieved that the great metropo­lis is made up of a se­ries of con­ge­nial vil­lages – and cer­tainly, our lo­cal life has been greatly im­proved by this dis­tillery. Memo to self: can I smug­gle a bot­tle or two of High­gate gin into the new of­fice, to make hot-de­sk­ing go with a swing?

Jus­tine Pi­cardie is the edi­tor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Coun­try. The Bazaar Lit­er­ary Salon takes place on 20 May at The Ned, Lon­don EC2

They’d de­camp for meet­ings at The Ritz, Bazaar’s home from home in the war

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