An Evening With Fiona McIntosh

20 Mar

Last night I got to attend a talk with the founder of Grazia (UK) and former Company editor Fiona McIntosh at Manchester’s Harvey Nichols. As we settled down with a complimentary glass of wine on the women’s fashion floor, we got to hear about Fiona’s professional background and future plans, as well as get advice with our own careers during a Q&A session.

Fiona began by telling us about her move from her native Australia to the UK in order to pursue her journalism career. This was the trajectory for many aspiring Australian journalists during this time apparently, though it seems to have switched in recent years! She didn’t specialise in fashion at first, instead writing news for a newspaper. From here she moved to the London Evening Standard on their ES magazine, before making the move to magazines. She worked her way up at Company magazine to become Editor, before the publishing house EMAP lost it’s fashion monthlies to a rival. In a meeting with senior members of EMAP, it was decided that the company should react by establishing a new celebrity/high fashion fashion weekly and thus Grazia was born.

Grazia was originally founded in Italy where it remains a huge success and now there are plans to take it to South Africa where it will be the first fashion magazine to incorpororate fashion targeted at both black African and white African women.There are differences across all the Grazia titles, for example the Italian Grazia often uses models rather than celebrities on the cover and the German Grazia sells best when Sienna Miller is the cover star! At first, the UK Grazia placed most importance on news stories with fashion taking a complimentary role, yet the popularity and impact of the fashion saw it take a bigger role to become the magazine we know today.

Fiona McIntosh currently works as a Consultant Creative Director for fashion site MyWardrobe and played a huge part of the website’s rebranding. The move from fashion publication to fashion retail is an increasing trend in the industry, for example both ASOS and Net-a-Porter have recently appointed former fashion journalists. This is tied up with the increasing power of digital content and Fiona acknowledged the uncertain relationship between print publications versus online content. Ultimately, she asserted that print publications can be enhanced by digital platforms in order to build the brand, so this means that in this era strong niche print publications can not only survive, but thrive.

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