Something of a tell-all interview with former British Vogue Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers was published on fashion journal Vestoj's website on Monday. Within hours of its publication, the article - in which Chambers details everything from her surprise firing following Edward Enninful's appointment as editor-in-chief to Vogue’s policy of special treatment for advertisers to how uninspiring and “bullying” fashion publications are - has since been removed from Vestoj’s site and scrubbed from the web.
It is unclear as to exactly what occurred between Monday morning and Monday afternoon that resulted in the removal of the article in question, entitled: "Will I Get a Ticket? A Conversation about Life After Vogue with Lucinda Chambers." Although there is a very good chance that Vestoj and/or Chambers have been slapped with cease and desist letters and threats of litigation from Vogue’s parent company Conde Nast. The thought is not at all outlandish. In fact, we have seen it before.
In 2013, Balenciaga filed suit against former creative director Nicolas Ghesquière in connection with an interview he gave to System Magazine shortly after he left his position as the Paris-based brand's longtime creative director.
According to Balenciaga’s lawsuit, Ghesquière breached his contract, particularly the agreement to refrain from making statements that could undermine the image of Balenciaga or its parent company, Kering, in connection with the 2013 System interview. In that interview, Ghesquière now-famously said, among other things: “I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenise things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore."
Chambers, 57, who served as British Vogue’s Fashion Director for 25 years, told Vestoj: “A month and a half ago I was fired from Vogue. It took them three minutes to do it. No one in the building knew it was going to happen. The management and the editor I’ve worked with for twenty-five years had no idea. Nor did HR.”
She stated: "There are very few fashion magazines that make you feel empowered. Most leave you totally anxiety-ridden, for not having the right kind of dinner party, setting the table in the right kind of way or meeting the right kind of people. Truth be told, I haven’t read Vogue in years."
Another striking excerpt: "In fashion we are always trying to make people buy something they don’t need. We don’t need any more bags, shirts or shoes. So we cajole, bully or encourage people to continue buying." And still, "The June cover with Alexa Chung in a stupid Michael Kors T-shirt is crap. He's a big advertiser so I knew why I had to do it."
Considering the potentially damning nature of these statements and the fact that non-disclosure and non-disparagement clauses (the latter of which restricts individuals from taking any action that negatively impacts an organization, its reputation, products, services, management or employees) are not all that unheard of, a lawsuit could, in fact, be brewing. Stay tuned.
UPDATED (7/4/2017): According to a statement that the editors of Vestoj provided to TFL, "Due to the sensitive nature of this article, we took the decision to temporarily remove it from the site. We have now republished it in its entirety."
The site's editors further held, "In terms of the reasons why it was removed, they are directly related to the industry pressures which Lucinda discusses in her interview."
"As you know, fashion magazines are rarely independent because their existence depends on relationships with powerful institutions and individuals, whether it’s for tickets to shows, access in order to conduct interviews or advertising revenue. We created Vestoj to be an antidote to these pressures, but we are not always immune. We hope Lucinda’s republished interview will spark a discussion which might, in her words, lead to a more 'empowering and useful' fashion media."
UPDATED (7/6/2017): The article has been amended as of Thursday and now includes the following note, "Following the original publication of this article, we’ve been contacted by lawyers on behalf of Condé Nast Limited and Edward Enninful OBE and have been requested to amend the interview. This request has now been granted.”
The particular passage at issue, which according to Condé Nast's cease and desist letter was defamatory, read: "A month and a half ago I was fired from Vogue. It took them three minutes to do it ... No one in the building knew it was going to happen. The management and the editor I’ve worked with for twenty-five years had no idea. Nor did HR. Even the chairman told me he didn’t know it was going to happen. No one knew, except the man who did it – the new editor [Edward Enninful]."
It is currently unclear as to whether Condé Nast is taking legal action against Chambers.