ASAVAGE sacking kicks off Kirstie Clements’s memoir of a life in Vogue. The 50-year-old had been editor at the Australian edition of the fashion bible for 13 years when she was suddenly fired in May 2012.
The Vogue Factor - Kirstie Clements
But anyone hoping this will be a retaliatory exposé of the industry will be disappointed: this is more hagiography than critique.
Her best chapter explores the pressures models are under to be ultra-thin. The girls eat tissues to fill their stomachs, and a Russian teenager refuses food on a shoot with one of the few sentences she knows in English: “It is not my job to eat.” Clements says the whole industry is complicit: from male designers who want a boyish frame to female editors spreading the body dysmorphia they suffer from themselves.
Next to this, the glamour described on other pages sits uncomfortably. There are some interesting nuggets in her stories of press junkets (“there will always be one major dickhead in the party who will ruin the entire experience for you”), trips for photo shoots (model Sarah Murdoch ran up a £5,000 phone bill on one calling her then boyfriend) and the pecking order at catwalk shows (Australian Vogue only gets standing tickets for couture because “you’re only as good as your economy”). But these will only grip the fashion-obsessed.
Working at Vogue, Clements says, is a long way from The Devil Wears Prada — fashion magazines are “a somewhat Sapphic utopia”. Which may be true but it doesn’t make for a scintillating read. And she has two irritating habits: using media jargon and listing far too many people she has worked with, as though she fears hurting their egos by omission.
Clements is bleak on the prospects for the industry, as budgets are squeezed: “The day is fast approaching when a magazine and its website will only be full of lifts [taken from foreign editions], promotional shots handed out by clients, and staff Instagrams. And there will be a whole tier of upper management scratching their heads, wondering why circulation is tumbling and blaming the editor.” One suspects a part of Clements is glad she got out.