by Dr. Sheila Pope
I love Netflix’s documentaries on the fashion world. I love to see how someone becomes the “it” of the fashion world. I love to see the mental struggles it takes for the fashion designers to rise above the competition to become super human. One day, I ran across
Netflix’s “Inside British Vogue” and found it to be very interesting because of the editor-in-chiefs’ longevity at British Vogue. At the time of the documentary, Alexandra Shulman had been the editor-in-chief for 25 years. Alexandra relied on the magazine’s fashion director, Lucinda Chambers to help her manage Vogue. Lucinda Chambers had been at the British Vogue for 31 years at the time of filming. Alexandra and Lucinda’s longevity at a company is almost unheard of in any industry. I love learning from powerful women in any industry. However, I think I respect female CEOs in fashion industry because their creations impact people’s choices in their style and the way they present themselves to the world.
The filmaker, Richard Macer, followed the Editor-in-chief, Alexandra Shulman, and her staff around for nine months. During the filming, the cameras captured how several powerful women in the fashion industry made things happen. More important, they captured how the elite and those traveling in the circles of the elite behaved. While interviewing Lucinda Chambers about her time at the magazine, Lucinda’s comments jarred me. First, she said a few negative, but honest, things about the fashion industry.
Lucinda Chambers admitted people did not need all of the stuff the fashion industry pushed on consumers. She explained how she would never be able to leave the magazine on her own. She said someone would have to let her go because she was unable to make the choice herself. Finally, in a bold statement, she clarified that she knew one day someone would tell her that her time was up.
After watching the documentary, I decided to follow Alexandra Shulman on Instagram. I discovered she had been replaced after 25 years by Edward Enninful. Then, I read
Lucinda Chambers was fired in one conversation that took less than three minutess. “A month and a half ago I was fired from Vogue,” she says. “It took them three minutes to do it. I didn’t leave. I was fired” (Young, 2017).
Lucinda Chambers was furious about the way the she was told her time was up. She spoke out in the media and was pressured to recant her story about the firing. After 36 years at company, her career ended in three minutes! It is sad, but it does not take long to end someone else’s career. Lucinda Chambers knew the day would come when she would be shown the door, but when it came she was not ready. She was furious. To be honest, I was perplexed at her response. Was she angry over how it was done or was she angry that it was done? She admitted on camera that she had stayed past her time. Sometimes leaders give too much of their personal and professional lives to other peoples’ company.
Moreover, I was shocked that Mrs. Chambers thought no one from upper management was aware she was going to be fired. After working with everyone so closely, maybe she felt someone in her circle would have given her a heads up. I have found people will always protect their own livelyhood first. After working in fashion for 31 years, you would think she would have known this too.
I wrote about Lucinda Chambers because she is a woman that I felt so many emotions about regarding business. I respected her dedication to British Vogue, but I questioned if I could give 31 years of my life to someone else’s vision, someone else’s company; I realized I could not do it today. However, 10 years ago, I would have considered retiring from a school district. I understand the power that comes from working for a company like Vogue. I can understand Lucinda Chambers’ desire to stay on well past her time. I understand how easy it is to think your loyality equates to earning the company’s loyality. After reading the article and watching the documentary, I really understand that when you know your time is up, you need to leave before they ask you.
, S. “Fired British Vogue fashion director slams magazine she worked at for 3 decades, says she hasn’t ‘read Vogue in years” The Independent July 4, 2017.