‘I left Vogue... now what will I wear?’

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy: ana cuba

WOW, YOU WORK AT VOGUE ?Isitjust like The Devil Wears Prada …?’ishowalot of con­ver­sa­tions in the past 12 years have started. But not any more. Ear­lier this year, more than a decade after I first walked through the hal­lowed doors of Vogue House, I left the world’s most fa­mous fash­ion mag­a­zine. ‘You know, Gin­nie, you’re just too real for all this now,’ a client – and friend – had told me over cof­fee in Septem­ber 2017. She in­sisted what she was say­ing was a good thing. I com­muted home that evening to my young fam­ily and new house in the coun­try­side and found my­self at the first ma­jor cross­roads of my ca­reer.

As well as The Devil Wears Prada ques­tion, other favourites have been: Were there diva mo­ments? Yes. Was it bitchy? No, but when you have a 90 per cent fe­male work­force the ‘sis­ter­hood’ is not go­ing to be with­out its few bouts of tur­bu­lence. Were the cor­ri­dors a daily cat­walk of im­pres­sive styling? Yes, and rightly so! This is the fash­ion bi­ble, after all. Madonna has sung about it, films have been di­rected about it – in­deed, its very name is taken from the French for be­ing in style.

But that’s not to say we could all af­ford the dream we were liv­ing (and sell­ing, be­cause let’s not for­get it’s a busi­ness). My work­ing wardrobe was mostly compiled of pieces bought at sam­ple sales, with a press dis­count or at pre-or­der ap­point­ments


where de­sign­ers of­fer whole­sale prices for VIPs. There were a lot of bor­rowed items thrown into the mix, or whipped off the rails that lined the cor­ri­dors. ‘I prom­ise I’ll bring it back on Mon­day!’ was the usual Fri­dayevening cho­rus. Mean­while, my bath­room shelves were filled with ex­pen­sive prod­ucts snapped up for a bar­gain at beauty sales (all pro­ceeds went to char­ity). It’s no won­der my hus­band noted I wasn’t ‘bring­ing home the ba­con, just bring­ing home the bags’!

It was, of course, very hard to leave – for both my wardrobe and my sense of self. I’d dreamt of work­ing at Vogue since I was 14

‘ My tot­ter­ing days are over. I don’t buy high heels any more’

and hounded the ed­i­tor Alexan­dra Shul­man with let­ters beg­ging for work ex­pe­ri­ence. But tot­ter­ing in as a 23-year-old art his­tory grad­u­ate was very dif­fer­ent to bid­ding good­bye in April as a 35-year-old ex­ec­u­tive re­tail ed­i­tor, wife and mother of two, who was off to see more of her daugh­ters and set up her own con­sult­ing and styling brand.

So as the world of fash­ion free­bies and ac­cess to de­signer clothes be­comes more dis­tant, and the lor­ry­loads of beauty prod­ucts dry up, what do I ac­tu­ally choose to buy now? After years of trial and er­ror, I in­vest only in those brands and pieces I know won’t let me down. Firstly, I rarely buy on im­pulse. If I’m buy­ing a de­signer item, I’ll go for a name that will have longevity, pos­si­bly even re­sale value. Hav­ing had ac­cess to Zara ev­ery lunch break for the past decade, I now only al­low my­self a visit once ev­ery three months sim­ply be­cause I can get the re­tail hit from watch­ing Trinny Woodall on In­sta­gram (my guilty plea­sure), but re­ally, I know I can eas­ily walk out hav­ing spent far more than I need to.

I prob­a­bly check the Matches Fash­ion app more than I check so­cial me­dia be­cause its edit is ex­quis­ite. Of course I don’t al­ways make a pur­chase, but for me it’s a great way to keep on top of the di­rec­tion of trends and I value that in my new line of work. After all, Matches brought Vete­ments and Michael Halpern into our vir­tual shop­ping bas­kets.

Colour-wise, I lean on navy as a foun­da­tion and then add a hit of leaf-green or blush-pink. Bur­gundy and mus­tard are go­ing to be my main­stays for win­ter. I pre­fer boy­ish cuts – they are just more flat­ter­ing for me – and so Cos con­tin­ues to get my vote, par­tic­u­larly for cropped trousers and shirts. Re­cently my head has been turned by the ca­sual yet colour­ful work of Re­jina Pyo. All my skirts or dresses fall mid-calf – no one needs to see my knees.

I know I can’t do the heeled an­kle-boot look, they chop my legs off, so I veer to­wards knee-high boots with a dress or skirt fab­ric that gives good ‘swish’. I can al­ways jus­tify a good coat as an in­stant game-changer (Jig­saw’s new col­lec­tion is look­ing very im­pres­sive). I buy men’s T-shirts from Uniqlo be­cause they hang so much bet­ter than any women’s ones I’ve tried and they are great qual­ity. The on-trend teeny-tiny mi­cro hand­bags are out and totes are in – be­cause, quite frankly, my life re­quires space for the para­pher­na­lia that comes with hav­ing two un­der-fives.

Beauty-wise I re­ally do take good care of my skin, it’s just that now it comes with a price tag so it’s far more con­sid­ered. Tata Harper (eye cream), Vo­tary and Ilāpothe­cary (fa­cial oils) are new dis­cov­er­ies that I will be stand­ing firmly by. I am a slave to Eve Lom cleanser (by night), and Sis­ley foaming cleanser (by day). My hus­band has latched on to the lat­ter and I feel like charg­ing him per use. The Clar­ins body balm – oh, so good – has been swapped for co­conut oil (it helps that my hus­band is an oil buyer for Waitrose). I have had to swap the days of Kéras­tase for Waitrose Essen­tial sham­poo sim­ply be­cause, at 79p, it is mag­i­cal. I still see my hair­dresser, Christina at Daniel Her­sh­e­son, for a bian­nual cut and colour ( just with­out my press dis­count). I sim­ply can­not delete her out of my life. I see Danuta Mazur for fa­cials (dm­ and had to think hard about re­veal­ing her ex­per­tise in this piece – she is Lon­don’s best-kept beauty se­cret.

Sadly, my tot­ter­ing days are over. I don’t buy high heels any more. Though if you are won­der­ing, the heel I rec­om­mend to clients is a Jimmy Choo Romy (85mm) be­cause I’ve

road-tested them pre and post chil­dren (oh dear God, the bunions) and I can ac­tu­ally walk in them. They are the ul­ti­mate day-tonight work shoe, as op­posed to a ‘car-to-bar’ flight of fancy. I never buy bal­let pumps, they are ter­ri­ble for my feet, and that omis­sion saves me a lot of time. I re­cently in­vested in Rupert Sander­son’s Clava peb­ble heel, be­cause a hint of height makes you walk bet­ter and I like my shoes to be a talk­ing point when I go into meet­ings. They are gen­uinely my favourite find of 2018.

I do feel a slight re­lief that I don’t have to be on top of the trends sea­son after sea­son. By 9am, my con­ver­sa­tion is prob­a­bly more about spilt Shred­dies than Sa­cai, and my shop­ping list is more likely to in­clude bleach than Ba­len­ci­aga. But that’s not ‘moth­er­hood’ or ‘liv­ing in the coun­try’ – no, that is just real life. That doesn’t mean I am not eye­ing up Ric­cardo Tisci’s new col­lec­tion at Burberry.

I am amazed by the brands that per­me­ate my post-Vogue life, and how they re­ally do hold a spe­cial place in peo­ple’s hearts when I re­fer to them. Bo­den, Jig­saw and Next are beloved stal­warts for many. Veja are the ve­gan train­ers du jour; Ganni and Rixo have in­spired amaz­ing lev­els of ob­ses­sion. Ar­ket is a new favourite for those who love an in­tel­li­gent sta­ple, and my cor­po­rate lawyer clients adore Rok­sanda. The po­tent sales ef­fect of Hush is as­tound­ing – it’s the best-sell­ing wom­enswear brand at John Lewis & Part­ners. What do all these brands have in com­mon? They of­fer ef­fort­less, joy­ful pieces for women who want to look stylish but don’t have the time and in­sider ac­cess of Team Vogue.

Now that my own busi­ness is es­tab­lished, I’m privy to a lot of women of­fload­ing their frus­tra­tion with fash­ion. They want to buy pieces that are uplift­ing, but that are more in keep­ing with their real life­styles, and very real bank bal­ances. After monthly out­go­ings, they may have £200 to £800 left to spend on them­selves. My job is to re­mind peo­ple that Zara is not al­ways the so­lu­tion; you prob­a­bly don’t need an­other Bre­ton top right now. You should try to op­er­ate a ‘one in, one out’ pol­icy, and yes, you should sleep on it and see if you still love it in the morn­ing.

I’m def­i­nitely not coun­selling that de­signer brands should be off-lim­its, though. You can take the girl out of Vogue, but you can’t take Vogue out of the girl. It’s just that this girl has got real when it comes to her new-found shop­ping habits. vch­

Right Vir­ginia at home with her two-year-old daugh­ter Mag­gie.Below left With Vogue ed­i­tor Ed­ward En­nin­ful in Novem­ber 2017. Below rightWith model Suki Water­house (left) and make-up artist Mary Green­well

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.