Alexandra Shulman on Her ‘Down to Earth’ Persona, Aging and Feminism

Alexandra Shulman
Photo: Getty Images
Alexandra Shulman.

People outside of fashion love to cast the industry’s characters according to how pop culture is portraying them at any given moment. But though that old Devil Wears Prada stereotype may still be going strong for editors, Vogue U.K.’s editor in chief, Alexandra Shulman plans on staying just as she is—which is to say, normal.

“I think it sometimes disappoints people that I don’t have [a grander image],” she told the Financial Times, “but I knew the only way I would be able to do this job was if I didn’t try to create some kind of carapace around myself. Up to a point, I guess, the Miss Down to Earth thing is its own persona ... Sometimes I would like to make people quake more.”

She’s not image-obsessed when it comes to herself, and she takes a refreshingly matter-of-fact approach to aging.

“I’ve got to the point where I don’t judge myself [on my appearance] because that way madness lies,” she said. “I know so many people who are upset about not looking as good as they used to, but you’ve got to realize that’s what happens and find something else to be interested in.” And she’s got plenty else to be interested in: in addition to her job helming the impressive glossy, Shulman just finished writing her first novel.

Of course, appearance plays an integral role in her industry—and that’s okay, she says. When asked by the Times if she considers feminism when editing, she responds that two aren’t related.

“I don’t think about feminism at all,” she says. “That’s not to say I don’t think it’s important, but why would you ask about feminism? What I think is that if you are a hairdresser you focus on appearance, if you edit Vogue you focus on appearance, that’s what I do. It’s a pity people feel that’s incompatible with being a feminist, that there’s something lightweight about caring about your appearance.”