MEDIA PROFILE: The serious side of glamour - Justine Picardie, features editor, Vogue

There is a certain irony in the fact that Justine Picardie’s first job offer on coming down from Cambridge was from Vogue. Instead of Hanover Square she opted for Grub Street and joined the Sunday Times.

There is a certain irony in the fact that Justine Picardie’s first

job offer on coming down from Cambridge was from Vogue. Instead of

Hanover Square she opted for Grub Street and joined the Sunday

Times.



Sixteen years on, fortune has revisited her. Next month she leaves the

Sunday Telegraph magazine to take her place as features editor in the

acme of glossy monthlies that is Vogue.



During her five years at the Sunday Times Picardie worked on everything

from Insight to Style and gained skills that have stood her in good

stead in a variety of writing and editing jobs - experience, she says,

that will not be wasted at Vogue. ’The sort of skills you learn in a

newsroom can be applied to a magazine. It doesn’t matter if it’s about a

fashion designer or a criminal, if the story takes 100 calls to get it

then so be it,’ she says. Having worked on Marie Claire, the Observer’s

Life and the Independent on Sunday’s Review, Picardie is one of a

handful of women who can boast both national newspaper and magazine

experience. Undoubtedly this is what brought her to the attention of

Vogue’s editor Alex Shulman, herself an ex-newspaper journalist.



Vogue sells over 200,000 copies a month, half the number of Marie

Claire, its largest rival. Its circulation is strong if static. It faces

increasing competition from the weekend newspapers’ glossy offerings and

Picardie has been hired to see them off. A challenge to which the

beguilingly fragile Picardie will doubtless rise.



While her arrival is unlikely to spark a revolution in Vogue House she

wants to see the magazine competing more with newspapers for

stories.



’We need those big interviews whether it’s a film star or an author.

Vogue’s a celebratory magazine but that doesn’t preclude it from looking

at darker areas.’



This, after all, is part of what Picardie has been doing since her

sister Ruth contracted breast cancer and died in September 1997. It was

while she was editor of Life magazine that she asked her sister to write

a weekly column about her battle with cancer. Ruth’s death has left an

indelible mark on her sister’s life and has changed her view on

journalism.



’One thing I learned from her death is that small things in life are

just as important as big things. In facing death Ruth thought about the

family and friends she was going to lose but she also gained strength

from things like lipstick and the colour of sweet peas.’ It is, she

feels, Vogue’s job to reflect the fact that people constantly flit from

the serious to the lighthearted.



Which brings us to the subject of PR executives. ’That’s fine,’ she

laughs.



’I love PR people. When relationships work well everyone benefits.’ And

when they don’t? ’At its worst you’ve got a PR who is phoning you just

because you’re on their list and you think ’why am I going to want to do

a story on pigfeed for the Sunday Telegraph?’.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1988

Commissioning editor, Saturday Magazine, the Independent

1996

Commissioning editor Review, Independent on Sunday

1998

Associate editor, Sunday Telegraph Magazine

1998

Features editor, Vogue



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