author. Ashleigh Howells
What better place to showcase some of the world’s most successful fashion and beauty publications? Alongside American vogue editor in chief Sarah Mowers it can be easy to oversee what is closer to home. But not for me. I have always loved Elle magazine - my go to glossy fashion mag for any long journey, flight, evening in, coffee break or lunchtime. I support it even further for its feminist undertones – the stories are not just about the dress but about the woman in the dress; and its role in aiding the progression of women into positions of authority and influence be it within the Elle office or by accumulating their own personal power through reading is both modern and challenging. It inspires women across the world to explore and celebrate their own styles, perfectly fitting then for this festival of expression. The magazine also acts as a beautifully accessible and modern ‘there first’ read.
And the figurehead of this brilliantly motivational fashion mag? Lorraine Candy. Editor in chief, feminist, runner, writer, mother of four, ridiculously optimistic – her bio at Elle online reads. But what really lies beneath these categorisations – who really is this all powerful woman who runs the UK end of the world’s largest fashion magazine in publication, and how does she maintain a feminist outlook when she is dealing with topic matters that typically objectify women?
The latest silk dress to make you look more beautiful….the latest green tea macha wheatgrass shot to give you better skin…
In a culture where young girls are infamously driven by the photographs they see on front pages to become the ultimate woman, where perfection is seen as obtainable through diet pills, a wardrobe full of Topshop, Banana Republic and Karen Millan handbags, and a society that judges women in the work place who wear the same thing twice into the office, Lorraine Candy sure must have a hard time showing her feminism at work.
Lorraine speaks fluidly and she is relaxed. Models she begins. We have an 18 years plus age limit policy and I want all our models to look joyful. That’s the word I use. Joyful looking. Modelling is not about being status-based, I want our girls to be healthy and happy. That’s when you get the best shot. Our consumer base is savvy these days. They don’ want ‘plastic’, authenticity is important, and being healthy is too.
Candy explains that whilst no woman is the perfect feminist Elle magazine pick front page women who have a strong feminist attitude and a strong link to fashion. Feminism does not mean fashion has to be thrown out the window in some angry feminist objectified tantrum. Women can own their dress, wear it as expression and use it as a symbol of their own self. This surely is not objectification no, but expression, beauty and art.
So, she continues on this topic of art in controversial grounds. Airbrushing.
I think its patronising to women to assume they do not know that front page photographs are not air brushed. Its condescending to think that the photo they see before them is obtainable. Of course we airbrush our models. We aim for visual beauty…art. We do not edit however the shape or weight of any model. We instead aim to heighten colours, shapes and tones to ensure for the best piece of art we can possibly produce. That’s why I ask our readers to pay such a high price for one of our magazines, (Elle magazine retails typically at £4 a read), because you are buying a masterpiece. Something that’s taken us weeks to make. It really is art.
There’s something endearing about this woman. She sits in a green jumpsuit and sandals, sunglasses on, a wide warm smile on her red lips and her two daughters stand quietly behind her making jokes and giggling. Perfectly serene and in full festival gear. This family woman sure is defying all gender conventions and seems perfectly in control of her work: life balance, or perhaps its all-encompassing.