As I write this, the world is embroiled in talk about #MeToo and the abuse of power in the worlds of politics, film, music, TV and fashion. The collective mood is that a seismic shift is taking place, with women and men collectively adopting a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault. And hurrah to that.
As we take a stand against the wrongs being brought to light, I also think now is the time to highlight and celebrate the positive aspects of the fashion industry — a field filled with strong, dynamic and enterprising women — which I have been lucky enough to be part of for my entire working life. Our February issue is a celebration of all this, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it.
For our biannual Collections story, we shot five up-and-coming models who are, unquestionably, stars of the future. Interestingly, we had an almost all-female crew, headed up by the brilliant and always-inspiring photographer Liz Collins. (Fashion remains one of the few industries where women outnumber men and, now more than ever, are rising to positions of power.)
One of the interesting things that happens on shoots where there is more than one model is everyone quickly takes on a 'role', rather like in a big family: the quiet one, the funny one, the quirky one, the leader… I wonder whether you can work out from the interview which one was which.
But my point is everyone was looking out for everyone else, and as a result the feeling was very sisterly. As the shoot wrapped, we cheered each model out. It was a wonderfully positive example of how teamwork, kindness and the creation of beautiful images are not mutually exclusive. I hope you agree the pictures really show that.
Women and men are collectively adopting a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault. And hurrah to that.
Simone Rocha is definitely a woman who celebrates other women. As witnessed by the number of ELLE staffers currently wearing her earrings (I have three pairs on rotation), her brand appeal crosses all ages and types. I often wear her subversive, feminine dresses to events because they make me feel glamorous, strong and ready for anything. Like the women behind our Collections shoots, Simone's design team is almost exclusively female. 'There's a strength that comes from being a woman designing for women,' she says in her compelling interview with Kenya Hunt. Simone's work has soft power and kindness that celebrates femininity in all its forms.
And talking of kindness, Susie Boyt's insightful piece on the power of compliments shows how the act is sometimes as simple as telling someone they look great in a dress. 'You are so Ginger Rogers in space, if space was Italian' is probably my favourite line of the issue – though, as she points out, it's also important to go beyond appearances and note achievements rather than just looks. Though, hey, I'll take both. Susie's essay is a timely reminder that a small word at the right moment can really lift someone.
After all, we all need a boost sometimes, as illustrated in our feature U OK, Hun?. Writer Phoebe Luckhurst explores how powerful, brilliant women, from Hillary Clinton to Uber chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John, cope when life becomes challenging.
My personal coping mechanism now involves a new-found habit of daily meditation (which, by the way, I strongly recommend), as well as taking the time to meet a friend for lunch, take our dog for a walk on the heath, or have a family movie night on the sofa with my husband and teenagers. In my case, simple pleasures are the most effective stress busters and laughter the most powerful medicine (really). But whatever your coping mechanism in times of stress, embrace it and do more of it, not less.
In that spirit, fashion this season celebrates the full breadth of womanhood, and finding your fashion tribe has never been more fun. Laura Craik's brilliant piece Who's That Girl?investigates the season's most unforgettable personas, from the revived Sloane Ranger (my personal favourite) to the Eighties Party Girl and the utterly cool Good Sport. Whether you pick one or adopt a different character each day, it's all about a playful spirit of individuality and not taking oneself too seriously — again, an attitude we could all probably use a little more of right now.
So as a new season begins, let's celebrate how brilliant it is to be a woman today — whatever shape that takes.
And, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, let's all aim for a little more kindness in our lives.
The February issue is available on news stands now.