Vogue Festival 2014

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Wow, what a weekend it’s been. I, along with an army of fashion lovers, have been completely spoilt. Masterclasses and talks with fashion’s finest, hair and beauty makeovers, goody bags, champagne, great coffee (you know me too well) and the opportunity to strut your stuff on the catwalk – topped off with beautiful, beaming sunshine – this is what dreams are made of… it’s Vogue Festival in association with Harrods. Here’s my weekend diary of the event:

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London’s Southbank was bustling, full of amazing energy and incredible style. We flocked to the Southbank Centre, transformed into this weekend’s fashion kingdom, courtesy of British Vogue.

Setting the scene: windows decorated with pictures of models and quotes from fashion designers

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Roll up – treats galore at the Vogue Café

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Shop Vogue goodies

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The wall of dreams – Vogue magazine front covers20140330-234441.jpg

‘My Fashion Life’ talk, with fashion designers Tory Burch, Angela Missoni and Manolo Blahnik Hosted by Lucinda Chamber, fashion director at British Vogue

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I was particularly excited to see Manolo Blahnik in the flesh. Not only for my huge admiration for his magnificent creations, but also for his wonderful charm and cheeky charisma. I couldn’t wait to hear his story.

Tory Burch
Tory Burch is my new style crush. She didn’t start out with an interest in fashion. She lived on a farm and was admittedly, very much a tomboy.

Before her parents got together, her mother previously dated Steve McQueen  and her father, Grace Kelly. The first dress that Burch got was her prom dress which she referred to as, “a big deal at the time.” In her early career, Burch worked in advertising and public relations for Ralph Lauren and Vera Wang.

At 37, she decided to become a full-time mum to her three children, and it was then she had the idea to launch her own ‘global lifestyle brand’. In reflection, she said didn’t actually know what that meant at the time or where it would take her.

She launched her first collection from her New York apartment along with her brother, who was president of the business. Burch was honest with her 150 investors, by telling them that they may lose their money. Luckily for them, she succeeded, and she is now the second youngest self-made millionaire woman in the world.

Burch likes flower arranging on Fridays for therapy, gets her inspiration from travelling around the world and she believes that, “if I wasn’t a great mom, I wouldn’t be able to be a good CEO. I take them [the children] to school everyday and I’m home by 7pm,” she said.

She champions female entrepreneurship through microfinance, mentoring and education programmes at the Tory Burch foundation and ‘great teamwork is part of her brand’s DNA’. Read more on Tory Burch>

Tory Burch collage

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Angela Missoni
Angela Missoni was present at her parents first fashion show when she was just five years old. Missoni only realised that she was different to other children, when she would take frequent trips with her family to London, New York and Paris. Her father was more of an artist and it was her mother who had the passion for fashion.

The label has continued down the generations, and now to Angela’s daughter, Margherita Missoni. “I don’t know why, but the fashion goes through the women in our family,” Missoni said. Angela Missoni was never scared to take risks with the label, she recalled, “I have big shoulders, I feel the responsibility and too much enthusiasm for what I’ve been doing for 19 years.”

Her father would say that ‘success is a matter of competition for oneself’ and it was her mother who inspired her to take her fashion collection to the mainline. Missoni reflects, “every collection was the seed of new things and I felt I had to fix it. I just tried to make clothes that I wanted to wear and that my girlfriends wanted to wear.” Missoni drafted in fashion photographer, Mario Testino*, to help her with her first campaign.

Missoni on today’s world: “these days I’m so lucky, I’m getting a new honorary degree nearly every week after no study.” Read more on Angela Missoni>

*Love Mario Testino? Be sure to check out his portfolio on artsy.net too.

Angela Missoni collage

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Manolo Blahnik
Born in the Canary Islands, it was all ‘sun, sea and bananas’ for Manolo Blahnik. The first shoes he ever made were for the lizards on the islands, he treated them to silver foil shoes with bows on (clearly, the Spanish lizards were leading in the style stakes!)

Blahnik attempted to be a lawyer before he pursued his career as a shoe designer. It was when he worked for a jeans company that really shaped his life, as he thought he could do something better. He borrowed £2,000 from the bank to open his first store in London, “England encapsulates creativity and collaboration,” said Blahnik.

He is passionate about doing everything within the business from sketching, to carving the heels himself, trying the shoes on, but he doesn’t do the sizing, as he doesn’t like numbers.

“The day I’ll give up is when I get bored and when have I got the time to get bored!” Blahnik excitedly exclaimed.

Blahnik said that he’s addicted to shoes, sugar and Netflix. Blahnik was the first gentleman to grace the cover of British Vogue in 1974– spot him on the collage below! Read more on Manolo Blahnik>

Manolo Blahnik collage

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‘Vogue’s Fashion Masterclass’ Alexandra Shulman, Lisa Armstrong, Daniel Marks, Sarah Burton and Louise Wilson Hosted by Emily Sheffield, deputy editor of British Vogue

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Want an insight into the world of working in fashion? What better panel to dish up the advice than Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, Lisa Armstrong, fashion editor of The Daily Telegraph, Daniel Marks, director and partner at The Communications Store, Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen and Louise Wilson, MA course director at Central Saint Martins. They shared their journeys, successes, mistakes, what they’ve learned and tips for career success.

Alexandra Shulman
Alexandra Shulman took over the editorship of British Vogue in 1992. Previously working at GQ, she openly admitted that she was ‘not a fashion person’ at that point, and “I didn’t know there were two collections every year,” she said. But Nicholas Coleridge, now president of Conde Nast International, had faith in her.

He’d told Emily Sheffield prior to this Masterclass, “Alex was always front runner [for the job] as far as I was concerned, she was a real journalist and had a sharp brain.” Shulman has proved as long as you have the right skills, you can learn anything else quite quickly.

She says she’s incredibly instinctual when it comes to interviewing people. Potential hires have got to be able to ‘chat easily’ and a limp handshake is a no-no. “I like them [interviewees] to ask questions about the job or anything really, to show an engagement with the world.” Shulman reflected on when her PA asked her, “if I hadn’t said I read books in my interview, would you have still hired me?” Shulman replied, “probably not.”

Important question: what would you wear for an interview with Alexandra Shulman? Her response: “it does matter how you look but you don’t have to be expensively dressed. You don’t even have to be neat or very fashionable, but you do have to be pleasant on the eye, as I do need to see you everyday in the office after all.”

When Shulman was asked to describe what it’s like to be in her position, she said: “I’m consistently anxious, shy and neurotic,” – and how does she deal with that? “A glass of wine helps!”

Lisa Armstrong
Lisa Armstrong’s first job was at a fitness magazine. She was more in love with the idea of journalism and wasn’t very interested in fashion back then. Although, she did remember telling her tutor at City University that her dream career would be to, “start at Harpers and end up at Vogue,” her tutor replied, “be realistic.”

It appears her dream came true. Armstrong advised, “don’t be grand about your first job, go where they will take you and work hard.”

When she’s hiring, she looks for good writers and journalists. “Be careful about tone in emails, don’t use twitter language. Don’t say, ‘hi Lisa’ and please don’t ‘reach out’ to me, I never want anyone to ‘reach out’ to me.”  

Daniel Marks
His clients include Versace, Christopher Kane and Net-A-Porter.

Marks offered some great advice on – something we can all relate to – making mistakes. “I have made some cold sweat inducing, hideous mistakes. I once sent out a press release from Aurelia Public Relations, but called it Aurelia Pubic Relations. But they didn’t fire me. Every mistake sent your way is something to learn from,” he said.

Marks’ advice on being mistake-proof: “take your time. In this world of communication where everything is moving so fast, it’s important to check that email or tweet carefully before you click send. Read things again and again, and read them from the readers point of view too.”

Marks on working in PR: “PR is about being lucky enough to work with creative designers as brand guardians, on what can be a pretty tough journey in fashion.”

Extra pointer: Lisa Armstrong revealed that David Marks in fact interned for her back in the day. “We wanted to keep him because he was nice and good. He would do everything from making the teas to writing copy.”

Proving the industry is a very small world – so make sure you keep nice and do everything with a smile 🙂 “Niceness is terrifically underrated,” Armstrong said.

More tips from the panel:

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After the Masterclass, I hotfooted it over to the #HarrodsLive space. Lots going on, you could have a Vogue cover photo-shoot and the chance to strut down the #HarrodsLive catwalk – sign me up!

Backstage I was greeted in true London style, by this dashing Harrods doorman (and he equipped me with a Harrods goody bag too! Great times.)

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The Bobbi Brown make-up stations backstage. I absolutely loved my makeover – my make-up artist gave me a good helping of extra bronze, to help me glow, a smoky eye and bright lip – I was catwalk-ready.

Let the show commence…

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Getting my strut ON

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10 points if you can spot Woo! 🙂20140330-235050.jpg

The Harrods goody bag – a limited edition tote bag and the current edition of Harrods magazine
(this will keep me out of mischief for a while…)

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All in all, a fantastic event. If you love fashion, and I’m talking all aspects of it, you should definitely get involved next year.

There was so much to do, so much to see and so many amazing people to talk to. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and I didn’t get chance to do everything in Vogue Festival – including the Vogue cover photo-shoot (with CHANEL props) and the Vogue manicures by OPI – but there’s always next year 🙂

Thanks British Vogue, Harrods and the Southbank Centre, for a truly wonderful and inspiring weekend…

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