If someone had told my teenage self I would one day be the editor-in-chief of ELLE, it wouldn't have meant very much to me.
ELLE had yet to launch in the UK. Plus, I would have been far too busy in my suburban bedroom, feverishly running up an outfit on my Singer sewing machine that was loosely based on any one of the magazine pages I had papered the walls with.
From the cool Eighties club kids regularly featured in the style titles to the ballgown-wearing woodland nymphs photographed by Bruce Weber for BritishVogue, I had fallen under fashion's spell completely.
Any vague plans I may have had to study English literature at university had been abandoned in favour of poring over the one art school prospectus (a place called Central Saint Martins) available at my very old-fashioned convent school.
It wasn't until a couple of years later, in 1985, right before I began studying fashion design at Trent (the Saint Martins bit didn't quite go according to plan), that news hit about the launch of a UK edition of ELLE. And, magazine junkie that I was, I eagerly snapped up the first issue to see what all the fuss was about.
The cover image of Yasmin Le Bon, the 'You can tell she reads ELLE' cover line, the genius styling by then fashion director Debbi Mason, all wrapped up with a playful, irreverent tone – I was utterly enamoured. Its celebration of individuality and love for fashion spoke to me like no other magazine had before.
After completing my degree and sending many pleading letters to the fashion department at ELLE, I landed a month-long internship with the magazine. And the experience of seeing in the flesh all these women I had been idolising from afar only served to fan the flames of my love affair with ELLE.
From editor-in-chief Sally Brampton looking equal parts terrifying and magnificent in her office to Debbi floating around in a brilliant, original new look every day, I was in fashion heaven.
I then moved on to the now long-defunct style title SKY, which at the time was a great place for a twentysomething to carve out a career. It was here that I realised telling stories through clothes was my true passion. But throughout my seven years there, rising up the ranks from assistant to fashion director, ELLE continued to call to me.
I doggedly applied for a variety of roles over that time, and though I did get my foot in the door as a contributing stylist (thanks to the fantastic then editor Nicola Jeal), a staff role there seemed always-frustratingly out of my grasp. I left to become a launch editor at Wallpaper* magazine, and an era of Nineties editorial excess, jaw-dropping budgets, countless air miles and a ton of fun ensued, swiftly followed by two babies and a freelance career.
From editor-in-chief Sally Brampton looking equal parts terrifying and magnificent in her office to Debbi floating around in a new look every day, I was in fashion heaven
It wasn't until 2004, when ELLE's new, fearless and formidable editor-in-chief Lorraine Candy approached me to join her team as fashion director, that the magazine re-entered my world.
Fast forward to the present, where I write to you in my exciting new role at the helm of a magazine I've loved since its very first issue some 32 years ago.
I can't help but think of the power of dreaming and, more importantly, acting on those dreams. I didn't arrive here via the most linear route; I didn't have any family connections or industry contacts to help me get on the ladder (though never underestimate the value of networking and being kind to people on the way up).
But what I did have was an unwavering determination, an absolute passion for the creative world I am lucky enough to work in and, perhaps most importantly (thanks to my parents), a monumental work ethic.
This August issue of ELLE is my first. It's special because it nods to ideas that are in the DNA of ELLE, while looking forward with new perspectives and voices. There is the Instagram satirist Siduations' witty take on the season's new trends, as well as an exploration of fashion's increasingly diverse and inclusive spirit.
With this in mind, we enlisted some of the fashion world's most refreshing new faces to star on our cover: Aamito Lagum, Adrienne Jüliger and Isabella Emmack, three women with remarkably different backgrounds and bold opinions. I hope this celebratory issue will also give you a taste of the exciting big redesign to come in September.
So as we take time now to celebrate the arrival of a new season filled with exciting things to wear and bold looks to try, I encourage you to dress for your future dreams – even when life knocks you back along the way. As Gloria Steinem says, dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. If I can do it, so can you.
The August Issue of ELLE is on news stands from today