“Irrelevant,” bullying, and “crap”: A fired Vogue director lets loose on glossy fashion magazines

The very honest Lucinda Chambers (right) with Poppy Delevingne at a dinner hosted by fashion label Balmain.
The very honest Lucinda Chambers (right) with Poppy Delevingne at a dinner hosted by fashion label Balmain.
Image: David M. Benett/Getty Images for Balmain
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Lucinda Chambers, the Vogue UK fashion director of 25 years who departed this May, has sounded off on a number of topics in a bracingly candid interview in the niche journal Vestoj. For example, she revealed that she was fired without warning, that pleasing an advertiser was the guiding force on at least one recent cover, and that she finds Vogue largely irrelevant.

The interview itself was live only briefly before being taken down, but it was long enough that screenshots and a cached version began circulating online. Vestoj ultimately reposted the article in its entirety—and then wound up amending it, according to a new editor’s note that states, “Following the original publication of this article, we’ve been contacted by lawyers on behalf of Conde Nast Limited and [British Vogue editor-in-chief] Edward Enninful OBE and have been requested to amend the interview. This request has now been granted.” The portion changed appears to be that dealing with Chambers’s firing. Vogue did not reply to a Quartz request for comment, and Chambers could not be reached for comment.

The former editor’s directness isn’t exactly flattering to all mentioned. ”Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years,” she told Vestoj founder and editor-in-chief, Anja Aronowsky Cronberg. “The clothes are just irrelevant for most people—so ridiculously expensive. What magazines want today is the latest, the exclusive. It’s a shame that magazines have lost the authority they once had. They’ve stopped being useful. In fashion we are always trying to make people buy something they don’t need. We don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people into continue buying.”

She also admits that not every shoot she worked on was a success, pointing to June’s cover featuring writer and model Alexa Chung in a Michael Kors shirt. She calls it “crap,” but says, “He’s a big advertiser so I knew why I had to do it.”

Other topics Chambers offers thoughts on include what she sees as the mismanagement of Italian fashion label Marni, and how far you can get in fashion just by being confident and looking the part.

Chambers didn’t appear to bear any ill will toward her longtime employer when she left. “I adore British Vogue and am so very proud to have been a part of it for so long,” she was quoted as saying.

But the Vestoj interview could easily ruffle some feathers. After reposting the article, Aronowsky Cronberg said in a statement, “In terms of the reasons why it was removed, they are directly related to the industry pressures which Lucinda discusses in her interview. As you know, fashion magazines are rarely independent because their existence depends on relationships with powerful institutions and individuals, whether it’s for tickets to shows, access in order to conduct interviews or advertising revenue. We created Vestoj to be an antidote to these pressures, but we are not always immune. We hope Lucinda’s republished interview will spark a discussion which might, in her words, lead to a more ’empowering and useful’ fashion media.”

The article has already stirred speculation of potential legal action.

This story has been updated with the news that Vestoj reposted and then amended the article, and with a statement from editor-in-chief, Anja Aronowsky Cronberg.