Celebrating 10 years

Lorraine Candy's decade at ELLE

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This month, I celebrate a decade in the hot seat at ELLE. It’s been the most exhilarating and exciting 10 years of my career. I wish I could remember all the remarkable things that have happened under my editorship but, sadly, I can’t (this is partly due to a combination of too many cocktails and too much coffee). But I do have a collection of thoughts on what it’s been like to work with the best people on the best fashion magazine in the world.

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‘SOMETIMES I’VE BELIEVED AS MANY AS SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS BEFORE BREAKFAST’
So said the White Queen to Alice in Through The Looking-Glass. It’s my favourite literary quote (and a delightful way to start the day). Everyone said it was impossible when we asked John Galliano to spray reverse graffiti across London in the dead of night during Fashion Week to celebrate the ELLE’s 25th birthday, but it happened. No one believed it when we asked musician Pete Doherty to illustrate the October 2009 fashion pages, but we did – and we won awards for the beautiful section he created. Even I briefly thought it would be impossible to put London Mayor Boris Johnson on a special cover to mark the 25th anniversary of LFW. But that happened, too. Karl Lagerfeld did agree to edit an issue (page by page) and Donatella Versace did come into ELLE HQ (with her bodyguards) to do an edit in the fashion cupboard (we had to buy a Tiffany ashtray especially for her). I took Rupert Everett to interview her in Milan the following week. So believing in the impossible is actually quite practical, if you want my advice.
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NEVER MEET YOUR HEROES
When you reach a position of notability, it sometimes brings the dreams on your horizon within your reach. This is not always a good thing. I was more nervous about meeting Patti Smith than anyone else I have met in my 30-year career in magazines and newspapers. What would we talk about, what amazing conversations would we have? She told me I had ‘nice hair’. I said: ‘Thank you.’ That was it. I wish it had never happened. The only exception to this rule has been Mr Tom Ford. But then, in my world, he is everyone’s hero. He always says the right thing, and we love him for it.
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THINGS DONT HAVE TO CHANGE THE WORLD TO BE IMPORTANT
What you wear, your hairstyle, your make-up: if it is important to you, then it is important. To be confident and comfortable with your own image is so powerful. When Louise Wedderburn, who suffers from a debilitating autoimmune condition, visited ELLE in 2012 for a documentary about her daily battle to live a normal life, we were blown away by her positive attitude – but, more than that, it was fashion and beauty’s power to change her world that struck us as amazing. Her love of clothes and make-up was perhaps the most empowering thing in her difficult life. I was proud to offer her the chance to realise her dream of coming to ELLE. When people (mostly men) denigrate the power of fashion, I think of the positive impact it has on women like Louise. But it makes a difference in every woman’s life and you have no need to apologise for that. You don’t have to be anti-feminine to be a feminist, do you?
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WHAT WOULD MADONNA DO?
I was a teenager in the 1980s. She’s my hero – she personally signed my 40th birthday card, which is framed on a wall at home, alongside a picture of Courtney Love hugging me tightly. If in doubt when it comes to making a tough decision, I have always asked myself the above question.
‘Should I put Miley Cyrus on ELLE’s cover before anyone really knows her name, because I have a gut instinct she’ll be huge in six months? What would Madonna do?’ So, we shot Miley’s first UK fashion magazine cover and the rest, as they say, is history. We like making history at ELLE.
We’re the first integrated, hot-desking fashion magazine. I don’t have an office and we work around a glass-enclosed Fashion Cupboard. This 360° way of working means Team ELLE is innovative in a way no other luxury fashion magazine is. I like to think it’s what Madonna would do if she were Editor-in-Chief (although she’d probably do it in thigh-high leather boots and carry a whip. I’m mostly in my running gear or McQueen shirt dress).
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‘STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH’ (as Steve Jobs once said)
We eat a lot at ELLE. I even have a Krispy Kreme Gold Card, so deep is my love of doughnuts. And I often recite the above quote when people ask me how I’ve stayed in the job so long. Never stop believing that big thinking is possible. I suggest all sorts of never-been-done-before ideas every day (which my boss, Group Publishing Director Meribeth Parker, cleverly filters). Some of them are extremely foolish. Some are great.

…AND FINALLY
I wore jeans on my first day at ELLE. I had laid out designer pieces the night before, but I decided to just be me. Now, after a decade of editing the world’s biggest-selling fashion magazine, I believe the most important thing you can be is yourself. I didn’t become an editor to get a front-row seat at Fashion Week, meet famous people or collect bags and shoes. None of the successful editors I count as friends, or the incredible editors I’m inspired by, went into magazines for those reasons.
The question I’m most asked is: ‘How do I become an editor?’ Would-be editors who chase that lifestyle, in my experience, fail to achieve their dream. A good editor lusts after just one thing: to make the best magazine possible every month. A magazine and website their readers love and look forward to. I really hope that’s what I’ve spent 10 years doing and what I will continue to do, because I’ve enjoyed every stylish minute of it. Even the time we lost a cover star in an underwear store when her pet monkey escaped…

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