Vogue UK Editor: 'Nobody Wants to See a Real Person on the Cover'

Plus: Shulman's views on fashion bloggers, overly thin models and covers that sell.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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Plus: Shulman's views on fashion bloggers, overly thin models and covers that sell.
Alexandra Shulman. Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

Alexandra Shulman. Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

On Saturday, singer and fashion darling Lily Allen sat in as host of the Dermot O'Leary radio show on BBC Radio 2. Allen invited Alexandra Shulman, who's been the editor-in-chief of Vogue UK for over two decades, to drop by the program, and the two immediately started discussing a number of the industry's most contentious topics.

First came the subject of the rise of the fashion blogger, which Shulman seems to have mixed feelings about. "Anybody can set themselves up as an authority, and if enough people are interested in what they say, they do become an authority, and that's all well and good," Shulman said, noting that many of those who write blogs don't know what they're writing about. "[But] you have this problem: Why should I pay for a proper journalist to write something when I can get the information for free on these blogs? It's a problem for proper reportage journalism."

Next came the topic of selling magazines, which, according to Shulman, requires a cover model with mass appeal that will draw in the non-regular readers who don't already love fashion and automatically buy the issue each month. Shulman admits that while the most creative, artistic covers are the ones she loves best, they don't sell quite as well.

"Broadly speaking, if you're going to talk about a model or a personality, it's kind of a quite middle view of what beauty is, quite conventional. Probably smiling, in a pretty dress, somebody looking kind of 'lovely,'" Shulman says of the ideal cover girl, who will likely sell the most copies. "[She's] the most perfect girl next door, better than yourself. People always say, 'Why do you have thin models? That's not what people look like.' But nobody wants to see a real person on the cover."

Shulman admits that it "bores" her when people constantly ask her why the models she chooses are so thin, but she's openly voiced her concern on the topic before, blaming designers for not sending larger models down the catwalk and therefore increasing the sample sizes.

But, it doesn't seem that her current stance on putting slim celebrities and models on the cover of Vogue UK will be changing anytime soon. "Vogue is a magazine about fantasy to some extent and dreams and it's an escape from real life," Shulman said. "People don't want to buy a magazine like Vogue to see what they see when look at in the mirror. They can do that for free."