That one time, I worked at Vogue

Allison Tait blog
Posted on May 17, 2010

Today I did something I haven’t done in a very long time. And, no, it wasn’t housework (though this could have been a contender).

It wasn’t even writing fiction – though it should have been. No, this was all together more outrageous.

I read Vogue Australia.

Once upon a time, I read Vogue for a living. As Chief Sub, it was my job to read every word, every month, three or four times.

To caption each picture, from the outside in, top to bottom.

To know that Cameron Diaz was a woman (it was early in her career), that Lycra needed a TM symbol, that Collette Dinnigan was a 2-Ls, 2-Ts, 3-Ns kind of girl.

Those who know me well still wonder aloud how I ever found myself at Vogue. I wonder it myself.

For a person whose sense of fashion stretches to basics and not much else, it was an education. Getting dressed every day was, I confess, a chore. Until I realised that everyone in the place had their own signature style. American Prep, Upmarket Goth, Chanel, 1960s Racer Girl, et al. Mine would be Basic.

I took it, I owned it, I rocked it as best I could – not easy when you’re 25 with no cash and you’re getting dressed hungover most mornings.

I loved working at Vogue. We worked long hours but it was a lot of fun. How could it be anything else?

My focus was all on the words. The Fashion Office was a hallowed hall of gorgeousness, where I’d venture only occasionally to find someone to please give me caption information for the 10-page shoot due to go to press that night.

It takes only five minutes on a magazine like that for some of the ‘glamour’ of working in fashion to fall away. Fashion assistants put in longer hours than CEOs and get out of bed for a lot less than $10,000 a day.

That said, working at Vogue puts you in a strange headspace.

You think nothing of spending $500 on a pair of shoes when you earn half of that each week.

You find yourself talking in the singular – The Pant, The Shoe, The Eye. The only place you really run into problems with that kind of thing is when you come to The Jean. It just doesn’t work.

Jeans work only in pairs.

Flicking through today, I notice that some things have changed. Even shoes comes in pairs now.

But much hasn’t.

It’s still a magazine full of improbable clothes (of incredible expense) modelled by amazing looking women. The ‘real-life’ pages still feature tousled, honey-skinned beauties with immaculate pedigrees who do fabulous things and buy lots of shoes.

Between lavish spreads of full-page photographs are type-heavy pages of well-written features, as well as those itsy-bitsy pages so beloved of designers the world over.

The Builder bought me the Vogue to take my mind off last Friday. It worked. For pure escapism, you can’t beat it. As a memory trip, it brought a smile to my face.

And I’m left with a genuine desire to buy something that is not a black, long-sleeved T-shirt.


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  1. Catherine

    Wowsy wow! I know any job is boring when the shine wears off but I am just superficial enough to say that is superbly awesome.

    Vogue. Vogue. And now you’re on to even bigger and better things- funny how it goes!

  2. Seraphim

    I couldn’t read past Chief Sub at Vogue.
    I’m sure it was a great post and all.
    But the green envy film over my eyeballs makes it difficult for me to read.

  3. Lisa Heidke

    I like it! Can totally see you owning AND rocking it!
    To think that you now work in flanny pyjamas…then again you have recently purchased rather fetching boots, so there is still some Vogue-ness lingering.
    Love your blogs, Al!

  4. Meredith @ thinkthinks

    Oh, I once read an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow where she talked about “an amazing pant”. It was so fabulously pretentious that I adopted it immediately and can often be overheard gushing over “an amazing pant” in stores. Shall spread the singular love to shoes and eyes. Pirates with patches and peg legs will be delighted, I’m sure!

  5. So Now What?

    Wowweee, Chief Sub at Vogue. You are one smart cookie!

    I reckon anything that pleases us (that’s no illegal) is fine. WE all need our escape. x

  6. Jodie at Mummy Mayhem

    Reading this, I’m picturing your offices just like in The Devil Wears Prada.

    I’m obviously not very fashionable at all. The only mags I read these days is Notebook and Women’s Weekly. I kid you not.

  7. Maxabella

    Pure escapism is right… just flipping through mags like that makes me want to escape!! All that money for a Pant? Just can’t and won’t do it. But we all have our materialistic moments. Myself, I prefer what my husband calls ‘house porn’…

  8. Catherine Shields

    Never underestimate the value of a good Magattack for escapism. Glossies still do it for me even after all those years behind the scenes…

  9. Anj (@anjwrites)

    Am I silly for thinking working as a Chief Sub at almost ANY popular mag sounds incredibly fun? So glad your hubby helped get your mind off things!! 🙂

  10. Cate Bolt

    OMG you know everything that the social activist in me wants to say right now, don’t you. *breathe*
    Instead, I’m going to say how lucky you are that the builder has the heart to a) buy you a pick-me-up and b) knows what to buy to make you smile.
    Lucky gal.

  11. Stacia

    For me, the pant is infinitely superior to the jean. And I’ve never had a $500 pair of shoes, though I imagine those are far better than the dime-store flip-flops I’m currently wearing. =>

  12. deer baby

    Chief Sub at Vogue. That is something.

    I would have been totally intimidated working at Vogue. I’d be like Ugly Betty or something. The nearest I’ve come was in a big national magazine company here when I was on a Homes title. The adjacent offices were a fashion magazine not nearly as illustrious as Vogue and they always looked amazing. I went to London Fashion week once when someone was sick and, not knowing I was going to be going, felt massively out of place. Having said that, I do love clothes and fashion and flip through Vogue occasionally but it is like another world…. A beautiful, fantasy world. Glad you had something to lift your spirits after last week.

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