You know when you meet someone and think, “when I grow up, I want to be you”? Well, InStyle Magazine Editor, Charlotte Moore is totally that person. At least for me, and I suspect for a fair few of you too. From Elle to Red to Marie Claire, Charlotte’s enviable and hard earned career has brought us endless enjoyment and inspiration by way of glossy fashion magazines. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know her a bit over the course of the past few fashion weeks and can tell you that besides being such a smart, stylish and powerful figure in the world of glossies, Charlotte also dispels all preconceptions about intimidating editrixes. I’ve lost count of the number of times I hitched a lift in her teams’ car between shows! So when Charlotte Moore landed the job of Editor of InStyle, a magazine I’ve loved all my life and was ripe for a rebrand, I didn’t need to be asked twice whether I fancied interviewing her! Enjoy…
LPA: What was your first job in fashion journalism and how did you get it?
CM: My first job was at Elle Magazine as Features Assistant. I’d always really liked the idea of being a journalist but had absolutely no idea how to be one. I loved Just 17 magazine and then when Elle launched I loved it so much that when I had to produce a sixth form magazine I basically ripped it off! Before I got the job at Elle I had been doing work experience at The Mail who sent me on the most amazing press trip to Paris. When I arrived in Paris I met a girl called Charlotte Anne Fiddler who was also on the trip. We were at, I think, the Hotel Costes and she swept her feather boa in my face and told me she worked Vogue. I just thought “she’s so glamourous, it’s so glamorous, I have to work on a magazine”. So I applied to work at Marie Claire and got a job there there doing beauty journalism. Then I went on a press trip and sat next to a girl from Elle who told me that the features assistant had just resigned and that I should go for the job. So I rang them and it turned out that the deputy editor, Shane Watson, happened best friends with Charlotte (Anne Fiddler). Charlotte told Shane that she should meet me and they gave me the job, so that was it. I was really lucky! I worked at Elle for 5 years after that doing lots of features. I interviewed Stella McCartney when she’d just first launched and we did lots of actors, people like Jude Law and Ewan McGregor, and I did lots of little bits of fashion journalism. I interviewed Matthew Williamson went backstage with Kate Moss and Helena Christensen at that first show he did, Electric Angels. It was amazing. Sam McNight was doing the hair and it was one of those shows that was very memorable. Doing those kinds of things at Elle really got me interested in fashion. I already was interested but those experiences made me understand the artistry of designers and shows and want to work on it more.
LPA: Before taking over as Editor of InStyle you had 10 years previous experience at women’s glossies ranging from Red to Elle to Marie Claire. What do you feel are the biggest challenges involved in getting a women’s monthly magazine from initial idea stages to print?
CM: The thing about a monthly magazine is that you want to make it glossy, you want to have those high production values so it is more like a book. It needs to be something really special that you treasure and you value, it can’t be throwaway at all. You want the writing to be really brilliant and interesting, the language used sophisticated. When I worked at Marie Claire we were very focused on producing really compelling, original features that you hadn’t read before and it all had to be so well written. I was the Features Director so I’d send journalists all over the world. For instance, I sent one photo journalist to Liberia and another to Ethiopia. When you’re doing really big, expensive trips like that it’s crucial to make sure the results are a really compelling and deliver what your readers want. It’s about trying to get the best people and make the best work. Trying to do brilliant journalism in this situation can be hard because there’s always a budget constraint and there’s always a time constraint. Also usually when I come up with the idea for a feature I have quite a strong visual idea of how I want it to look. That’s really important but the difficult thing is relaying that to all the different people who are working on it because you’ve got the photographer, you’ve got the designer who’s laying it out, you’ve got the picture editor who’s commissioning the photography, you’ve got the writer… It’s about making sure that all the different people involved in that story are all thinking in the same way as you are. What you don’t want is for your idea to come back and not work, which can often be the case.
LPA: There has been some debate in recent years over how derogatory an impact the rise of digital media, blogs and online magazines will have and is having on traditional print publications. How do you feel print press has most significantly been affected? And how do you think, or hope, it will develop over the years to come in response to these changes?
CM: For me it’s about celebrating what print magazines can do but digital can’t because I think they’re very different. The best thing about online is the speed. You’re not necessarily looking for the most gorgeous photography, or to sit and relax and enjoy something that’s very luxurious. You want speedy, quick information, to quickly scan a million street style pictures and see what the trends are. Online, you’re not thinking “wow that’s an amazing picture” and sitting and looking at it for five minutes. So what I want to focus on is thinking about what’s great online and what’s great in print; they’re two different things so we need to do both of them differently but equally well.
LPA: What is the relationship you’re hoping to achieve between print and online at InStyle? How do you and your team plan on ensuring that the two carry the same tone and aesthetic and compliment each other without one either overshadowing or offering exactly the same content as the other?
CM: I have a slightly different approach to that of other editors. I didn’t want to make InStyle look like an online platform. I did wanted to make it feel a bit more in touch and definitely when we did the redesign we wanted to make InStyle feel more modern, more fresh. I thought that the website should have the same brand values and look similar to the magazine, so the reader feels that they’re definitely looking at InStyle, but I think readers are looking for different things on a website. You want to find out who’s just resigned from which fashion house, what celebrities are wearing that day, who wore what well at the Oscars. Our aim is to make sure that print and online both serve their different purposes as best as they can while still being staying true to InStyle’s focus which is fashion and celebrity.
LPA: Now this is something I’ve always wondered and my readers will definitely want to know, how do you choose your cover stars?
CM: It’s really important to choose someone relevant to our readers at that moment. Usually, they’re working on a project at that time but they can also have a relevance just because of who they are. For example, Kate Bosworth (in the September issue). She hadn’t got a project but she’s someone who’s constantly being photographed, looks so great in all clothes and the girls who read InStyle love fashion. I think Kate Bosworth is kind of like the American Alexa Chung and has innate style so she’s relevant to our readers for that reason. I think that a cover star always has to be really stylish and interesting and relevant for that particular moment. Nicole Sherzinger (who featured on the October cover) is massively well known. She’s intriguing as a person, she’s got an interesting personal life, she’s got a fabulous body, amazing hair and she looks really great in these pictures. I admit, I think cover stars do have to be beautiful but it’s more important that they’re relevant and have that sense of style, and can pull off clothes in a great way. If you think that the girl who’s reading InStyle is around the age of 30, some younger some older, you have to consider who they care about right now.
LPA: I’m sure that during your career so far you’ve attended countless fashion weeks and see some truly incredible shows. Which has been the most memorable for you?
CM: I don’t know they’re all so amazing! I mean, that Chanel supermarket was quite hard to beat. Or the Vuitton escalator… It’s so hard to say which show stands out because they’re all so different. I remember going to a Hussein Chalayan show and all that was happening was lights changing but it was incredible. Then with Burberry it’s all about the models and you’re really close to them and you see them… Thinking about particular shows that really stand out I’d have to say that the last Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton was very memorable partially because many of the fashion editors were so emotional. I went up to friends who were crying literally as it started. I always love Lanvin shows because it feels like you’re at a party. They’re only five minutes but suddenly you feel completely enlivened from the power of these girls looking so glamorous, the lighting going on and off. Then you’ll go to a Dries show and it’s totally different. I went to one that was just set to the sound of dripping and you could hear the pacing of the models up and down the runway. Shows like that can be just so moving, all you do is just look at these beautiful clothes as they go past and you can really absorb every minute of it.
Love Ella. X
Image of Charlotte Moore by Victoria Adamson