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TSF 32: Ella Alexander – GLAMOUR Magazine fashion features editor

Ella Alexander is GLAMOUR Magazine’s fashion features editor across print and online. She is also an aspiring pirate and ardent Take That fan.

Ella Grid_Fotor

If you have a 25th hour in the day, what would you do?
I’d read more. I’m not an academic sort, but i think it’s important to read up – to read writers that you think are much better than you because it teaches you to be better.

If you could capture and bottle a smell, what would it be and why?
Fortunately, everything I love the smell of is already in bottles – rum and Chanel perfume.

Essential store cupboard ingredients?
Pasta, Sicilian passata, garlic, chilli, crumpets and Kipling cakes.

What is your ultimate night in – or out?
My ultimate night out would be in either two places: Brixton – where I’d eat awesome jerk chicken in Negril, before heading to the Duke of Edinburgh, where, minding carefully not get close to neighbouring Clapham sorts. I’d merrily drink Heineken outside on the benches. I’d end up at the Hootananny, dancing embarrassingly to reggae in a fashion my friends would hate. Or it would be in Catania in Sicily, where I’d meet my gang in a square I know, which is always filled with people. We’d take the piss out of the Italian emos playing guitars (there’s always one), then at midnight we’d jump on the back of mopeds and head down to one of the beach clubs. We’d be merry by this point so we’d finish by jumping in the sea and watching the sun come up over etna.

What’s in your handbag?
My handbag is a revolting mess. It has my wallet, my George Orwell book, my diary (I get scared of writing things on my phone as I lose it relatively often), my notebook, my glasses and a grubby lip balm.

Any cuisines you love or loathe?
I love Indian food, well I love English Indian food. I went to India and spent two weeks with Delhi belly, culminating in a nasty incident outside the Taj Mahal. I love Indian food, but it doesn’t like me. I’m not big on sushi unless it’s Katsu curry, which I’m not sure counts.

 What’s your daily uniform?
My uniform revolves around my biker boots. In summer, they are worn with white boho dresses. In winter, with black skinnies and navy jumpers. I always wear the same jewellery, a collection of rings that mean different things and an anchor bracelet and necklace from my best friends and accidental little sister.

Why does your job matter to you?
Journalism is one of the most important mediums of communication we have – finding the truth about something and reporting that to everyone else. That principle can and should be applied to every subject there is, whether current affairs or fashion. I also love to be able get behind brilliant people and tell the world (or at least our readers) about them. In terms of fashion, it’s important for me to convey the message that fashion is there to serve, designers need and want you to like their stuff. You’re the people that have control over it all, not the other way round. It’s yours to enjoy and have fun with. My job helps me to spread that word.

Was there ever a time in your career where you thought ‘I’ve had enough?’
Absolutely. Twice in a big way and both because I felt frustrated and stifled – the first was when I was working at a big ecommerce site as a copywriter and feeling like I was never going to be a journalist, and the second was when I worked at a newspaper and felt I was unable to do any real journalism, only rewriting of stories from other publications. No job is perfect, but it’s important to work for a brand that has the same values as you do. 

When you have a daily work slump, how do you snap out of it – tips?
Go for a walk and read something or someone who inspires you. Read up, rather than down. 

How did you achieve your current role?
Nothing went how I planned it. I started doing work experience when I was 14 because I clearly had little social life and Kent, where I grew up, is pretty boring during the holidays. I did a placement at Woman magazine where I wore a suit (mortifying) because I thought that would make me look grown up and made a lot of tea. I loved the atmosphere of working at a magazine though and decided I wanted to go to the London College of Fashion and study journalism. I spent the next few years doing work experience during my holidays, then got into LCF. I carried on doing work experience through university then did a year after I finished, while juggling a weekend shop job. It wasn’t much fun and I was seriously broke, so I took a job at ASOS as a copywriter. In the evenings, I started freelancing for the Evening Standard’s diary pages in the evenings which means going to celebrity parties and approaching a big name off the cuff and finding a light, anecdotal story from them to run in the next day’s paper. It was scary as hell, but the idea of telling my editor I hadn’t got a story was scarier, so I just got on with it. From there, I got a job at Vogue.com as maternity cover for someone I had done work experience for when I was at uni. I didn’t leave for four years until I decided I was bored of fashion and wanted to write for a broadsheet so moved to the Independent online where I worked as deputy people editor. It was great experience, but I missed fashion and found I had less freedom than I did at Conde Nast so went back, this time to Glamour. I started there as senior writer and was recently promoted to fashion editor. I also do freelance work for Pavement and the Evening Standard.

What would you have told yourself five years ago?
To relax and enjoy it all more. And be kinder to yourself. Listen to more Patti Smith and know that everything can be remedied by listening to David Bowie’s Heroes. 

Who is your career inspiration?
I have a few… Caitlin Moran for her shouty, unique brand of optimism and kindness, Hadley Freeman for proving that you can be intentionally funny, original and clever about fashion and AA Gill for having such a clear voice and original way of writing. His travel writing is what I read if ever I feel stuck or uninspired. His turn of phrase is so simple but so clever and unique. Same goes for George Orwell. I recommend everyone work an interest in writing to read Down and Out In Paris and London. And Camila Batmanghelidjh for being an unwaveringly positive, kind change-maker at no matter what personal cost.

 Favourite place for Brunch?
I don’t do brunch. It is my belief that no one should have to see anyone that they’re not having sex with before 12pm at weekends, unless it’s Christmas Day. That’s different. Can you imagine Keith Richards ever asking Mick out to brunch? Of course not.

Favourite shops?
& Other Stories, Gap, Bimba Y Lola and Free People. 

Best meal?
A chicken jalfrezi and rice. 

Favourite restaurant?
The Coffee Cup in Hampstead and Homeslice in Covent Garden.

 Most used app?
Instagram. I’m pretty pedestrian like that.

Happy place?
There are a few. Elham the village I’m from in Kent. Getting out the car when I first get there and seeing the stars properly is one of my favourite things. And Sicily – it’s like Italy’s skint naughty little cousin. The food is amazing, the people are warm and lively and it’s beautiful in such an authentically run down shit way. 

Wish list of trip destinations?
New Orleans, Mexico, Bali, Jamaica, Berlin, Dollywood. 

Best piece of advice you’ve received?
The harder you work the luckier you get and to be interesting you must be interested. 

Has anyone left you star struck?
Gary Barlow. I can’t help it, it’s those kindly eyes. I went quiet for perhaps the only time in my life. Same happened when I met AA Gill – I just blushed and laughed at his jokes like a sad act fan girl. I was beside myself before interview Patti Smith. She’s one of my life heroes and I had to hold back from asking if I could wash her feet such is her glory. If I ever met Keith Richards I’d combust with joy. I’d probably try and impersonate his pirate laugh in a really excruciatingly embarrassing fashion. 

Favourite hotel escape?
I don’t think I have a favourite hotel, I tend to favour an air bnb situation. 

What should people look out for?