VogueI knew that not all magazine editors would be like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, or the famous Anna Wintour. But when I started reading The Vogue Factor, I did also have in the back of my mind that Kirstie Clements had worked for Vogue for over two decades, and that Vogue is a high-end fashion magazine. So I certainly didn’t expect the book to be about such a down-to-earth, realistic, genuinely grateful for her opportunities Vogue editor.

Kirstie Clements’ The Vogue Factor is written about Clements’ years working for the magazine. She worked her way up from humble beginnings working on reception to become the editor-in-chief. And how easily even that opportunity could have passed her by: she convinced her interviewer to put her on trial first, before another girl also in consideration for the job, and that if they liked her, they wouldn’t have to bother replacing her. As they say, the rest is history.

It is impossible not to like Clements and the way she writes about the amazing career she forged for herself. She never takes any of it for granted. It is clear that she’s always worked hard, and been grateful and gracious about all the opportunities which have come her way. She also offers a stern lesson for all her readers: if you want something, and you’re willing to work hard enough to get it, it just might come your way. This is how she ends up as the editor of Vogue, and how she finds herself interviewing Crown Princess Mary in Denmark, one of many amazing experiences Clements has had. Unfortunately, Clements’ story is also a reminder that you can be doing everything right and still it’s not quite good enough, as she discovered when she was sacked out of the blue from the magazine in 2012.

What I truly loved about this story is the complete Aussie-ness of it. Vogue Australia is small fish compared to the other Vogue editions around the world, and must make do with its smaller budget, distance from the rest of the world and being considered not as important as the other Vogue titles. But that is also what makes the Australian edition great, as the magazine constantly features up and coming and established Australian models, celebrities and designers. The plight of the magazine is the plight of the Aussie battler on the international fashion scene, as is the plight of Clements as she works her way up to become editor-in-chief.

I have a whole new appreciation for Vogue and the tireless hours spent creating such a magazine. It is a high-end fashion magazine, and not everyone can afford to spend thousands on Prada. But everyone can appreciate the creative pursuits of the magazine and of those featured in it, and be proud of the fact we had Kirstie Clements at the head of the magazine for so long.

Published Melbourne University Press, 2013

Review copy thanks to Net Galley