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The surprising reality behind Absolutely Fashion: Inside British Vogue


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The 12 months Richard Macer spent documenting life inside the world’s most prestigious fashion magazine certainly proved an illuminating experience – though perhaps not quite in the way editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman might have been hoping.

From the faithful photographer, whose eye has been relied on since the 1970s , to editor-in-chief of Vogue’s American sibling, Anna Wintour (who did finally remove her sunglasses, if only for a brief second), to the formidable Alex herself; the most striking contrast between the pages of that ethereal bible we leaf through with such reverence at the start of each month, and the true architects of its glossy interior, residing in the surprisingly commonplace London office from which it is issued, has to be, quite ironically, appearances.

Who would have thought that the orchestrators of modern fashion, those in the position to shun or showcase our skinny jeans, and to taint our red lips with shades of deepest mauve, could themselves have long outgrown such menial validation on their own shopping sprees?

There is, it was revealed, a lack of longevity when it comes to the young contributors, and fresh-faces emblazoned on the magazines carefully constructed pages. The world of fashion, it seems, holds a distinct ambivalence in the face of new blood; there is no space in the current climate to grow within this fast-pace industry. Models and designers, student journalists and budding photographers, are in and out as quickly as the trends are turning, at the fingertips of fashion royalty.  

What surely began as an innocent venture spurned by pure curiosity into one of the most secretive industries in the world, quickly gave way over this two-part documentary series, to unveiling a world of unspeakable power, uncompromised deception, and Prada coats purchased at the cost of a second-hand mini.

“Elitism is what lies at the heart of this world”, determined Macer toward the end of his documentation, speaking out with perhaps insensitive honesty. “I wonder if they know when it is their time to go – when they’ve outstayed their welcome”.

I am in no position to comment on such a strongly worded statement. All I know for sure is that I would sincerely appreciate a better indication of the exact charity shop to which Sarah Harris is depositing her designer jeans.

Absolutely Fashion finished airing on BBC 2, Thursday 15th September 2016. Catch up online at BBC iPlayer. 

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