Date Posted: Tuesday 20th June 2017
Alexandra Fullerton is currently fashion director at Stylist magazine, where she has worked for the past six and a half years. With 16 years in the fashion industry, she has previously contributed to Grazia, Telegraph Magazine, Glamour Russia and Lula. She has also held full-time positions at Glamour, Happy and Eve. Outside of her day job, Alexandra is also a stylist and has worked with commercial clients including Stella McCartney and Marks & Spencer and photographers David Bailey, Victor Demarchelier, Rankin and Ellen Von Unwerth, to name a few.
What inspired your love of fashion when starting out & how did you get into the industry?
I always loved clothes and shoes and handbags and would constantly draw outfits when I was little, putting the looks together in my own little fashion magazines. Magazines were my dream world and the emotions that clothes could create through shoots really inspired me. I always wanted to be a designer but was rubbish in textiles lessons so when I discovered there was a job of stylist I knew it was what I had to do. I started by doing work experience - initially in PR - which gave me a taste of the industry, and then on magazines which is where I always wanted to be.
How does your role as fashion director work?
It's multi-faceted. I oversee every element of fashion in Stylist from representing the title at the shows, to securing exclusives on news stories, managing our team of five as well as commissioning teams to shoot stories and styling myself. I have to ensure that every element of the department and fashion pages in the magazine - and online where possible - gel and we have a brilliant outwardly facing reputation and coherent vision.
What do you love most about your job?
I love shooting trends and clothes which excited me at the shows and then getting the chance to create my own narrative with them and giving them life beyond the catwalk.
Give us a breakdown of a typical working day?
If I wake and manage to get in the bathroom - or even dressed - before my 2 1/2 year old daughter wakes up, it's a good day. My alarm goes off at 6am but often I end up getting ready in tandem with her. We leave the house together, I drop her at nursery before getting the train to London (I live in North East Essex.) I finish my make-up on the train, do emails and nap. I either head straight to the office and get stuck into my day or have breakfast with a PR, usually at Holborn Dining Rooms where I'll have smashed avocado and tomato on toast and a pot of Earl Grey tea with lemon. In the office we have a daily production meeting at 10am to discuss deadlines and daily print schedules. Monday and Tuesday mornings are free for me to have catch-ups with my team, work on story ideas and do budgets. Wednesday and Thursday mornings are taken up with meetings. Lunch will be chicken noodle soup from Itsu and fruit salad at my desk before maybe meeting a photographer, doing appointments or heading out to press days in the afternoon. I wrap up at 6pm and head home putting moodboard a together on the train - unless there is a dinner or event I need to attend. I usually go to one event a week and we share responsibility of attendance throughout the team. When I get home my husband will be putting our daughter to bed - I'll read her a story and have a quick cuddle - before we have supper together and head to bed ourselves, ideally before 10pm.
What deadlines should PRs keep in mind?
PRs need to bear in mind we are weekly and have to move fast! Monday is news meeting day so send ideas on Friday or first thing and we go to press on Thursday.
What advice would you give to a PR pitching to the team & what can PRs do to help with content?
PRs need to understand Stylist's unique point of view and need to be able to offer us some exclusive element for consideration.
Stylist launched in 2009 and you joined shortly after, what’s been the biggest learning curve for you in that time?
I started freelancing at Stylist four months after it launched before joining the team full time in September 2010. I've learned so much about running a department, managing a team, briefing contributors, running budgets, creating strategy, dealing with commercial clients... things that in junior roles or as a freelance you have no idea are going on behind the scenes.
Any pet peeves when working with PRs?
Blanket BCC emails that say "Hi Hun" when you've never met the person.
Which is your preferred social media platform and why?
I have more followers on Twitter and it's the platform I started out on so I have a soft spot for it but Instagram is the thing I check last thing at night - and spend more time on.
How do you like to be contacted & what are your thoughts on gifting?
Email always. I read everything but only reply if it's relevant. It's incredibly kind of brands and PRs to gift and it is a clever way to be forefront in an editor's mind but beware... if it's unsolicited it can be for the wrong reason. Being gifted will never encourage me to include an item or brand in the magazine. You have to use more editing skills than simply being given a present to come up with content!
With ABC figures for most print magazines declining, Stylist seems to be standing its ground - where do you see the industry heading?
We are very lucky that we are creating content that our readers really engage with and love. You can see them reacting each week by buying the product on our fashion pages and tweeting or messaging their opinions on our features. We launched as a totally fresh voice in magazines and are still innovating, we never will rest on our laurels. Online is becoming more important as it's how so many people consume their media and influencers are evolving the way that people shop and how they spend their free time (and what they engage with) as they are more accessible.
What has been an invaluable piece of advice that you received and passed on?
I tore out a headline that said Make Your Own Luck from a very old issue of Glamour and which I've always kept in mind. Whether you believe in luck or not it's about working hard and making your own path.
What would we find on your bedside table at home?
A grey marble lamp and ivory silk shade, a statue of the Sacred heart dressed in jewellery and rosaries, a collection of vintage perfume bottles including my late Grandmother's Schiaparelli ones, unread books, a Jo Malone box of hand creams, moisturisers, lip balms and oils, my phone, a mini Smythson notebook (no pen), a glass of water, framed photos of my daughter and husband.
What will you be wearing this summer?
If the sun shines, I'll be wearing a palmer//harding shirt, some simple flat sandals and denim shorts or a Vita Kin-style peasant dress and Givenchy sunglasses.
One thing people may not know about you?
I know lots of obscure facts about tea.
What’s on the horizon for Stylist & the team for the rest of the year?
I'm shortly going to be advertising a vacancy for a shopping editor so will be busy interviewing for this role. We have our biannual glossy fashion issue, out in September, to produce - along with all the other normal issues - and we are getting ready for the third Stylist Live in November which will be major!
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