Sasha Slater Interview

Sasha Slater is my ‘Woman of Substance’ for March. Sasha is in the midst of an impressive media career and has recently joined the Telegraph Group in a new role for the company as Head of Magazines. She now edits the Telegraph Magazine and oversees the group’s other lifestyle brands, including the Luxury and ST titles.
Sasha recently moved from Harper’s Bazaar and has an eye for fashion, a natural affinity with luxury and a passion for travel. She lives in Clerkenwell with her husband, two children, Joe and Olga, and two cats, Ollie and Stan.
We met for a drink at The Blue Bar at The Berkeley in Knightsbridge, London.

Sasha, congratulations on your new role at the Telegraph Group. What an exciting time to join. Do tell us what plans you have for the titles you edit and manage.

I have big plans for all the magazines I oversee. Of course, the main one is the flagship Saturday Magazine which is a wonderful blend of fashion, features, travel and news. And then we’re relaunching ST, our luxury Sunday supplement, in the next few weeks so you’ll see some really exciting changes there. The other title that’s close to my heart is Luxury, which is our offering of all the best workmanship and skills in motoring, fashion, design, architecture, jewellery, menswear...; it’s a privilege to be able to shape a future for all of them.

The marriage of a great writer, photographer and a great interview subject is one of the best to read, tell us how do you commission such a job and which interview feature that you have commissioned are you proudest of?

The feature I’m proudest of in my career so far was a story we did with Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi, for Harper’s Bazaar. It united all my greatest loves: fashion, Italy, Paris, architecture and art in one fantastic feature. We shot Karl Lagerfeld in the new Fendi headquarters, which is an amazing 1930s building called Il Palazzo della Civilta Italiana in Rome, and we also photographed models in the latest Fendi collection. The building has lots of arches so we had to work fast to get them changed and posed or the light would have shifted and the images wouldn’t have worked. And then I went to Paris to do the interview myself and Karl was fantastic and literally wouldn’t stop talking and every word he said was quotable and fabulous. It was one of the great moments
of my life.

You joined UK Harper’s Bazaar when Justine Picardie became Editor. You were a brilliant team. What was your proudest moment during your time with her and what did you enjoy most about Bazaar?

We did so many brilliant things together at Bazaar but the most exciting was launching Town & Country magazine out of Bazaar. It was the same team doing both titles but with a completely different mind-set. Bazaar is about fashion and is for a female readership; Town & Country is about luxury life in Britain and we managed to squeeze an awful lot of horses and dogs into it too. Doing both together was insanely challenging but also a huge buzz.

Your sister, Lydia, took over your Bazaar role a few months ago – how fabulous that two siblings are not only both talented in the same industry but have held the same role. How did it feel to pass the mantle over to Lydia and what advice did you
give her?

Lydia used to be features editor of the title when it was still Harper’s & Queen so she has a big past with it. And truly, it’s such a wonderful place to be and Justine is so inspiring, I wanted it to go to the best person possible: which was clearly my sister. It is thanks to her that I ever became a journalist – I was working in the art world and could see that she was having so much fun as a writer and she kept telling me to come and do the same. In the end I couldn’t resist.

You are well known as a luxury lifestyle editor – what is it about the luxury industry that you most enjoy? Are there aspects that you dislike?

Luxury, in my mind, is nothing to do with snobbery or expense. It is simply finding and celebrating the best of the best. I’ve had the opportunity to go and see the craftsmen and women who make the most exceptional handbags, watches, shoes… and seeing them at work and talking to them, you feel the passion and pride they have in what they do. It’s both fascinating and moving.
Luxury can also be an experience or a feeling rather than some rare trophy accessory. Often, you’ll ask an amazingly busy, successful person what their greatest luxury is and they’ll say: time.

You are an avid traveller and I know you regularly take your kids along with you. What has been your most memorable trip and why? I'm booking to explore Puglia for this summer, what about you?

We recently spent two days in Iceland over half term and it was the most extraordinary and brilliant trip. It’s quite easy to get to but once you’re there you’re in another world. We delved into natural ice caverns formed out of glacier melt, watched seals flop about on icebergs in a lagoon, went snowmobiling and ate Porbeagle, a kind of shark. I love holidays with the children that are active and energetic and where you’re all as amazed as each other and all pointing at things and gasping wow at the same time. I am not one for lolling about on a sunbed – my boredom threshold is too low. As far as the summer goes, we take my children and my nieces to our family’s very ramshackle farmhouse in the south of France and take it in turns to look after them there so the kids get seven weeks away from London and a chance to go feral.

You must be a super-efficient packer. Please share with us some of your tips for personal holidays and business trips.

Ironically, for someone who travels as much as I do, I am a shockingly bad packer. In the past I have arrived in New York for some fashion event and had to rush out to buy shoes because I only brought one of two different pairs. I do always remember to take a sleep mask wherever I go, though, and a nice warm cashmere cardigan which basically acts as a security blanket in disguise.

You clearly have an eye for a great photo – your Instagram feed is great. Do tell us about how you use Instagram – for work, pleasure, for both? Whose feeds do
you enjoy?

Instagram is an amazing snapshot that’s really been seized on by fashion people. I love seeing Anna dello Russo’s yoga pictures, or Jane Bruton’s instant take on a particular fashion show, or Cara Delevingne’s backstage vines or how Sam McKnight’s camellias are doing. They provide an intimate, intensely personal glimpse of someone’s work and also their world view. As for me, flicking back through my posts just offers a tiny kaleidoscope of memories.

You have been a great shopper of the collection at Winser London since we launched. Which pieces from our current collection are your favourites?

I’m absolutely mad about the Lauren silk blouse and bow tie set and the cashmere hoodie and the plain full circle midi skirt and the Miracle trousers and…
I could go on indefinitely.