I don’t want to be the person who puts on a brave face and tells everyone, ‘Oh, I decided to leave the company,’ when everyone knows you were really fired. There’s too much smoke and mirrors in the industry as it is. And anyway, I didn’t leave. I was fired.
If you want good results, you have to support people. You don’t get the best out of anyone by making them feel insecure or nervous. Ultimately, that way of treating people is only about control. If you make someone feel nervous, you’ve got them. But in my view, you’ve got them in the wrong way. You’ve got them in a state of anxiety. I’m thinking of one fashion editor in particular: it’s his modus operandi. He will wrong-foot you and wrong-foot you, and have everyone going, ‘Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.’
You’re not allowed to fail in fashion – especially in this age of social media, when everything is about leading a successful, amazing life. Nobody today is allowed to fail, instead the prospect causes anxiety and terror. But why can’t we celebrate failure? After all, it helps us grow and develop.
…in fashion you can go far if you look fantastic and confident – no one wants to be the one to say ‘… but they’re crap.’ Honestly, you can go quite far just with that. Fashion is full of anxious people. No one wants to be the one missing out.
Fashion moves like a shoal of fish; it’s cyclical and reactionary. Nobody can stay relevant for a lifetime – you always have peaks and troughs. The problem is that people are greedy. They think, ‘It worked then, we’ve got to make it work now.’ But fashion is an alchemy: it’s the right person at the right company at the right time. Creativity is a really hard thing to quantify and harness.
I have a new idea now, and if it comes off maybe I won’t be feeling so vulnerable after all. We’ll have to wait and see.
There are very few fashion magazines that make you feel empowered. Most leave you totally anxiety-ridden, for not having the right kind of dinner party, setting the table in the right kind of way or meeting the right kind of people.
Lucinda Chambers served as fashion director of British Vogue for 25 years.