In May 2012 Vogue Australia Editor Kristie Clements was unceremoniously fired from an organisaton she had worked for, for twenty-five years and been editor at for thirteen. The Vogue Factor is part auto – biography, part career advice, part expose on the fashion industry and incredibly entertaining. I always had suspicions about the fashion industry, most of which I thought were perhaps nothing more than urban fashion legends, but apparently they weren’t that far from the truth. Clements is incredibly candid as she presents insights into the industry, such as, “You know how you read interviews where models insist that they eat a lot? Not true. The only way they can get that thin is to stop eating. They eat tissue paper to stave off the hunger pangs – literally ball it up and eat it.” Many of her revelations are disturbing and shine a light on the unrealistic pressure placed on women (and men) in the fashion industry.
It was inspiring to read how Clements began on Vogue reception and worked her way up, through ambition and hard work, to be the editor. Advice such as “How you conduct yourself on the way out is more important than how you went in”, is valuable, as is the fact that Clements does not come across as some materialistic fashionista. Uncomfortable with the ‘scary editor’ role she was so often expected to play, Clements actually placed a lot of value on her staff and realised that an editor is only as good as the people around her.
Although the more glamorous parties and travel paint a rosy glow over working in the fashion industry, this is balanced out with tales of horror photo shoots, difficult photographers and celebrities and the pressure of finding exactly the right shoe. While the industry clearly has some perks, these are somewhat overshadowed by long hours and incredible hard work, where wannabes are a dime a dozen but they very rarely seem to go the distance.
Reading Clements story, it is difficult to understand the reasons behind why she was let go – an perhaps this is partly her point – but far from a bitter dig at the industry that sacked her, The Vogue Factor is a homage to fashion, to Vogue and to a job she clearly loved and the people she worked with, admired and respected.