Harper’s Bazaar and Justine Picardie

harper's bazaar edited by justine picardie

I have had, over the years, a dotty as a dalmatian relationships with fashion magazines, veering from over the top indulgence when every month I bought a slew of them to a pared pack approach in recent times which saw me limiting my fashion magazine purchases to a copy of Vogue each month. Except in December when I buy, as a present to myself, a host of magazines which I wrap in festive paper and then open them one at a time to read on each of the post-Christmas days.

Despite my December multi-buys of fashion glossies I view them with a certain ambivalence, this stems from wondering about the symbiotic relationship between editorial staff and advertisers. After all he who pays the piper calls the tune so I think it very likely that the major advertisers in these magazines also influence content. However, that said, I do enjoy leafing through their glossy pages.

This year I bought as part of my December haul the January issue of Harper’s Bazaar (UK edition). The reason I added it to my list is that the magazine has a new editor – Justine Picardie. I cannot claim in any sense to know Justine Picardie but I did exchange a few words with her when she spoke at a literary supper in Dublin organized by The Gloss (Irish magazine) in June 2011. I bought a ticket to said literary supper because I had very much enjoyed her well-written and excellently researched biography of Coco Chanel and I wanted to hear her talk about the book.

As I planed to write about Justine’s biography of Chanel on Just Add Attitude I approached her to ask if I could take her picture and she immediately agreed in a very kindly way. I am cringing dolefully as I recall how I struggled with my camera while she was patience personified for what seemed like an eternity. My total inexperience in taking portraits meant that the images I took didn’t do Justine or the beautiful Chanel jacket she was wearing justice so I didn’t use them on the blog. She displayed the same kindness and patience to everyone (myself included) who queued to get her to sign their copy of Chanel:The Legend and the Life. I was as much struck on the night of the literary supper by her attitude (friendly and encouraging) as I was by her eloquent speech. It was thus a racing certainty that I would buy Haprer’s Bazaar when I heard she was the newly appointed editor.

The January issue (it comes out for reasons that I don’t understand in December) of Harper’s Bazaar was the first one that Justine directly impacted since she took over as editor in September. There is much to love about it: the writing; the photography; the interesting mix of fashionable clothes including many affordable items; an interview with Sienna Miller; journalist Tanya Gold’s look at how her relationship with her body evolved over the years …

My two favourite bits were first the ‘Why Don’t You?’ column which is based on the original column of that name compiled by legendary Harper’s editor Diana Vreeland. Here’s a few samples from the 2012 ‘Why Don’t You? ‘

‘… do as Coco Chanel did, and wear a traditional gentleman’s Scottish tweed Jacket.’

‘… plant dozens of sweet pea seeds, which will be gloriously scented next summer.’

And secondly the Beauty section which mostly eschewed product write-ups and was instead given over to lots of interesting expert advice on recharging: body, mind, diet, lifestyle…

I liked, a lot, the January issue of Harper’s Bazaar which seemed to me to effortless blend elegance and erudition with good writing and much more besides. I have added Harper’s Bazaar to my ‘to-buy’ list for January.


Filed under Chanel, Fashion

14 responses to “Harper’s Bazaar and Justine Picardie

  1. Lovely post, B.
    I’m so buying the biography of Chanel that you recommended! Thank you! πŸ™‚

    I’m a fashion addict and I love fashion magazines. I even managed somehow to convince my mother to buy me a subscription to the Italian edition of Vanity Fair. When I open my mail box and I put my hands on the Italian magazine it’s a little feast πŸ™‚

    Have a very glamorous 2013!

    • I loved Justine Picardie’s biography of Chanel. She is an excellent writer and she had access to the Chanel archives for her research. There are some beautiful photos of Chanel in the book and also some illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld. I hope you enjoy reading. I love fashion magazines too (despite my reservations) and how lovely to feast monthly on Italian Vanity Fair. Thanks for your comment Francesca and I wish you a happy and peaceful New Year. πŸ˜‰

  2. SurreyCousin

    Must take a look at Harper’s Bazaar – but it might take a bit to shake my Elle habit! A very happy New Year to you and all.

  3. When I was more involved in fashion I bought several magazines every month. I have to admit that I have lost interest in them to a degree, but I still buy Vogue and prefer British Vogue to all the others.

  4. I enjoyed this post and will look for the book you mentioned.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Every now and then I succumb to a magazine and then generally regret it, I’m such a bah humbug!! But I do love the “β€˜β€¦ plant dozens of sweet pea seeds, which will be gloriously scented next summer.’”… but then I would !!
    Sounds like great fun to have met Justine too πŸ™‚

  6. I will have to take another look at this magazine. I often don’t buy some fashion magazines because the fashion photos are so unrealistic for the type of clothing I would buy and wear. Some are too extreme for me.. this one sounds like the sort of magazine that has some great content to read as well! Thanks for sharing it with us!! xx

    • Fashion shots are I agree so often fantasy driven – but I still like looking at them. I am glad I cut back my excessive magazine buying but still I like to indulge occasionally – I tend to feel if I get one good idea (particularly from an interiors magazine) it was worth buying. B xx

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