Ella Alexander studied BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism at London College of Fashion and has gone on to work for the likes of Glamour and Vogue.com and now works as Online Deputy Editor at Harper’s Bazaar.
Could you introduce yourself and your current role?
I am the online deputy editor at Harper’s Bazaar. Prior to my role here, I worked at Glamour as fashion features editor for two years and news editor at Vogue.com for four years.
How did you find BA Fashion Journalism at LCF?
LCF couldn’t have prepared me better for working in fashion. Don’t get me wrong, my course was full of characters and I had a very different university experience to a lot of my friends in terms of campus life etc, but I don’t believe there is any university that would have given me the same insight into fashion journalism. It was like having a job and, if you treated it as such, then you did well. The guest lecturers and tutors we had were amazing too; it was great to have such a clear understanding about what the industry involves and to be taught by people who knew their fields inside out.
Why did you choose to study at here?
When I was applying for university, there weren’t many courses that offered fashion journalism and, frankly, I didn’t want to be anywhere that wasn’t London. LCF had a reputation as the Oxbridge of fashion and I was desperate to be part of that.
What skills did you learn on the course and are using now?
There’s something one of my tutors always said that if you can’t explain your pitch in a sentence then it’s not a story. That’s stood me in good stead. Also, the importance of writing how you talk and not overcomplicating your work through superfluous words. One of the guest lecturers, Colin McDowell, told us that if you want to be a good critic, then you must take an interest in all areas of the arts, whether film, literature or music, because everything informs everything else. How will you understand a designer’s reference if you haven’t read that book or watched that film? I try to remember that a lot.
How did you find the teaching?
My journalism tutors were brilliant. I wasn’t the loudest of students when I first started and was massively intimidated by all the cool kids who name dropped their famous fashion friends, wore skinny jeans (they were new then) and used words like ‘obsolete’. But my tutors – Brenda and Nilgin – brought the best out of me. Brenda stopped me from misguidedly going into PR in my second year, which was helpful as I’d have been terrible at it. And Nilgin helped me worked out what I liked writing about – fashion and women’s issues. They both stressed the importance of work experience, which is vital.
What were the challenges and highlights of the course?
Some of the tasks we were set were pretty challenging – being asked to find a new genre of music wasn’t a walk in the park. The course required a lot of will power and discipline too, which most 18 year olds don’t have at the start (myself included). The highlights were how much insight it gave me into the fashion world and how much graft you have to put in to get anywhere.
How did the course prepare you for a career in journalism?
I don’t want to repeat myself, but the project we were set felt vey much the sort of tasks an editor would give you – which both my tutors had been at some point. You had to do your own interviews, gather your own research and come up with own hooks – that’s good practice for the real world.
Tell us about an average day at your job?
I’m only two weeks into my new job, so I’m still learning the ropes, but I source and write fashion and arts news stories, conduct interviews with actresses, models and designers, analyse fashion trends, both catwalk and street style, create shopping-based features. I also write restaurant and music reviews. I also monitor traffic, maximise SEO and promote all content via our social media channels.
What is your top tip for people who want to get into roles like yours?
Work hard and be interested in everything. Work experience is key, do as much of it as possible, especially in digital publishing – which is such a growing, influential world. Be nice to everyone, do everything that’s asked of you with a smile and don’t give up. If you don’t give up, you will get there because that’s the only option.