Anna Harvey is my ‘Woman of Substance’ for February. Anna has always been regarded as one of the most significant contributors to the fashion industry: she was former Deputy Editor of Vogue and former style adviser and confidante to Diana, Princess of Wales. Anna began her career at Harper’s & Queen (now Harper’s Bazaar) where she worked alongside Anna Wintour as Junior Fashion Editor. On the recommendation of Norman Parkinson, she joined Condé Nast Publications and her roles included both Fashion Director and Deputy Editor. She worked alongside Grace Coddington, who has just left her role at US Vogue to work 'at-large'. At UK Vogue, Anna worked with many well-known figures, including photographer Patrick Demarchelier as well as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, whose first appearances in Vogue she directed. Her work has always been visionary and exciting.
We met for lunch at Bond & Brook in Fenwick Bond Street.
Anna, what a fantastic career, so influential! Your work has been fabulously rich – you have met and worked with some of the world’s most talented and iconic people. Do tell us about your favourite moment.
There are many favourite moments, but on reflection I think one of the highlights of my career was early on, when I was Fashion and Beauty Editor of Brides and I ran a reader open-day in the Dior showroom in London, where readers were invited to drop by and test out the Dior range of perfumes. A lot of people came by and the whole day promised to be a great success. Into the salon wandered actor James Mason and his daughter Portland looking for something for Portland to wear. They joined the survey and were enormous fun and very charming. It was my first brush with celebrities.
What a privilege to work as personal style adviser to Diana, Princess of Wales. What did you most enjoy about this relationship?
Working with the Princess of Wales was a pleasure. She was always grateful for any help I could give and never failed to send a thank-you note – now of course it would probably be an email, so not quite as exciting. The Princess was very easy to dress, although sometimes it was necessary to let hems and sleeves down as she was tall. She had a model figure so there were not many challenges in finding clothes to fit. She knew exactly what she liked and there was no swaying her into choosing anything she was doubtful about, although I did try sometimes. There were a lot of laughs! To know what suits you is such a talent and to be confident enough to stick to it is the answer to making shopping easy. The Princess loved simple, well-cut casual clothes as well as all the formal wear so well-documented in the press. She had lots of trousers, shirts, easy knits and several easy skirts to just above and below the knee. Her style evolved over the years and she became very much the mistress of her own image, and wardrobe. It was a lot of fun and an honour helping to a small degree with that.
Introducing new talent and bringing new ideas into Vogue was impressive. Watching the young now climbing career ladders what would be your top three tips for them?
1. You need to be passionate about it to succeed in fashion whether as a stylist, writer, photographer etc. It is not an easy job for the lazy!
2. A good eye and an inquisitive nature. You need to search out the best of everything. Never compromise (although in reality you sometimes have to, unfortunately). Networking, which never came that easily to me, is vital.
3. Confidence, too, is essential. You have to believe in yourself and your opinions in order to inspire others.
Your role as Deputy Editor to Alexandra Shulman was created for you. I have always admired Alexandra's honesty and integrity in the business. You were a dream team but what were your challenges?
Working with Alexandra when she was made Editor of Vogue was a career change for me. I moved from styling pages to an administrative role as Deputy Editor. It was what I wanted and Alexandra was not only demanding to work for but also an inspirational mentor. The challenge was to be good enough to meet her high standards.
How do you see glossy fashion magazines in the future? What do you think their role will become and is there a future in print or will it all become digital?
If I knew the answer to that! The magazine publishing business is experiencing a sea-change and where it will all end no-one, certainly not me, is sure. I am certain Vogue will survive because the brand alone is so strong and as long as the highest standards are maintained I would like to see it selling online (as it does now) with an accompanying, always beautiful, print alternative also available. Much as now, but perhaps the print version will change into a book of amazing images by the world's greatest talents, and appear less frequently than every month. All of the wonderful journalism the title is famous for will appear in the online version, but opinions and essays on the world of fashion might accompany the images in a new Vogue. I think as far as Vogue is concerned, print, in some form, and digital will continue to work along-side each other.
What are your interests and lifestyle today and how do you feed your passion for fashion?
I paint a little but am very much a student. I am putting together a small book about what-to-wear for those of us who are no longer comfortable in thigh boots and mini-skirts. As for my passion for fashion, I will always read Vogue in whatever form it is offered and I will always visit shops as I love to browse and get inspiration. I shop online often too, finding the whole process very easy. I avoided it for a long time as I was sure it was going to be hugely complicated but now parcels can be delivered to a place of choice and are returns collected too, I have realised the wonder and ease of it!
I know you are a fan of Winser London’s collections – which pieces are your favourites and what stands out for you in our Spring collection, launching this month?
I have some lovely pieces from Winser, including a jersey skirt and top, a Miracle dress and several of the oversized cashmere scarves. The new collection tempts me hugely. I love the Lauren blazer (the short jacket, too, is great if you are not a blazer girl), the wide flat front trousers look great on my friend Yasmin but the Miracle Trousers, which are slightly less wide, look perfect for me as I am shorter than the supermodel! Love the simple silk shirt and the cashmere knits. Might even try out the leggings, although I have never been a fan. If Winser feels they are a must-have item, I could be persuaded (under the long length tunic shirt so all the lumps and bumps are not on show!).