The Festival was underpinned by a series of talks and discussions from some of the industry giants. If I could have I would have attended them all, but being a recent graduate on a charity wage, I had to be careful about which talk I treated myself to. I was absolutely delighted to be in one the few discussions lead by Alexandra Shulman - British Vogue Editor-in-Chief - and even more delighted when I found out that it was the only discussion in which "the beautiful tornado" Cara Delevingne would be speaking! Also on the panel was the extremely eloquent Lucinda Chambers - lover of hats and ankle socks! Queen of the smokey eye Charlotte Tilbury, who worked on her first British Vogue cover in 2003. Leading hairstylist Sam McKnight, who has been working on British Vogue covers since the late 70s. So here is what I learnt about being Behind the Scenes of a Vogue Cover Shoot...
Fact number one about Vogue cover shoots: the end result is often not what was planned! Fact number two: you have to be prepared for the totally unexpected to happen! These two facts were wonderfully highlighted by some very entertaining tales from the panel. Not least of all was the story behind Emma Watson's December 2010 British Vogue Cover. Luckily Lucinda could now view the events of Emma's first cover with the light-heartedness that hindsight can offer, but at the time, when they discovered that the Eurostar train manager had stolen all the clothes for the photo shoot, neither Emma nor Lucinda nor Emma's agent could see the funny side. Lucinda recalled how Emma kept saying "But I've waited ten years for this! [for her first Vogue shoot]". Happily, one dress showed up: the Valentino. The Valentino saved the day, and it turned out that Emma's cover was divine.
But the true professionals showed that they could rock almost any situation. Sam McKnight suffered a similar disaster to Lucinda when none of the hair products showed up for a shoot with Kate Moss on a secluded Caribbean island; he had to make do with sea water to style Miss Moss's do! However despite their professional attitudes and invaluable experiences, it seems that everyone from Testino to Delevingne get nervous when shooting a British Vogue cover. Cara spoke of her nerves on the day of the March 2013 issue (top photo). She felt like it was her first job, despite having worked with the "dream team" a number of times before. However Lucinda interestingly said that she assumes everyone is nervous when shooting a cover, as it has to be that "money" shot. Alexandra acknowledged that it is the one outward facing page of the magazine each month - the one that has to say "buy me", but have the essence of British Vogue at the same time, so it is only natural that the team are nervous. However they all spoke of a sort of magic that can happen on a cover shoot, and Lucinda said it most definitely happened on Cara's shoot; she spoke of a light that comes on behind a model's eyes when everything is coming together, and then she can relax, knowing that they will have "the shot".
It also became increasingly apparent that a cover shoot is very much a collaborative effort between everyone involved. Everyone on the panel respected each other's professional artistic talents, and spoke of how they had to be open to artistic fluidity on the day of a cover shoot; only then will something special be produced.
The panel were incredibly engaging, and obviously very passionate about their work. Sometimes perhaps a little too passionate, as Lucinda admitted to dismissing Cheryl Cole's Malaria as a bit of a temperature, pretty much forcing her to continue until they had the shot. She did, however, feel rather awful when she later saw on the news that the starlett had been taken into intensive care - but at least they had the shot!
One last secret that I just have to share with you all is that on Natalia Vodianova's May 2008 cover, Lucinda had to capture the shot in a taxi on her way to the airport, and there wasn't even enough time to get her into the dress! Lucinda simply asked her to lie on the dress, to create an illusion that she was wearing, and the results are stunning - that is what I call true professionalism!
The amounts of pressure that the Vogue team are sometimes under, would be truly overwhelming to most, however hearing them speak has simply reinforced to me that they really are the best in the business. And the fact that they want to share their experiences with others who look up to them is a truly encouraging sign for the next generation.
Do keep an eye out for my next post on the 2013 Vogue Festival in association with Vertu.
Love Lucy x