In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye

Fashion Stylist, the two words that makeup the dream of millions of girls around the world—the job “a million girls would kill for.” But of course, who wouldn’t want to work in the industry that guarantees you’ll be besties with Hollywood’s hottest celebs a la Rachel Zoe and rubbing shoulders with fashion royalty like Lauren Conrad all while playing with thousands of dollars of designer clothing?

But is that really all there is to it, simply strolling onto the set with racks of this season’s trends and a venti sugar-free vanilla soy latte? Don’t get me wrong, I do love Rachel and Lauren, but judging from my own awe-inspiring moments with fashion images, my guess is no. So, what exactly is the job of a fashion stylist then?

Vogue’s newest book The Editor’s Eye explores the role of the industry’s greatest fashion editors and their contributions to the fashion world.

Today Vogue productions can resemble filmmaking in scale and ambition, but it wasn’t always thus. For the fall-winter 1950 haute-couture collections, Penn made a rare trip to Paris to work with the fashion editor Bettina Ballard. The chosen studio where he installed his dappled tarpaulin backdrop was “up five exceptionally long flights of stairs, with no telephone, no water.” Ballard booked the models, attended the collections, selected the clothes from her notes (it was forbidden to photograph or sketch), and negotiated with the directrices of the fashion houses for their release (these saleswomen, on commission, invariably prioritized their customers, so clothes were available only at lunchtime or at night, which is when Penn and Ballard were shooting). The production yielded some of the most iconic fashion images of the century. “My heart was involved with every picture,” wrote Ballard, recalling her mid-century portfolios.

The dramas and the headaches and the battles are all eclipsed by the thrill of that great collaborative moment when a perfect storm of editor, photographer, model, clothes, hairstylist and makeup artist, environment, and concept come together to create an image that captures the moment, and may—who knows?—even have a life after fashion.

Excerpted from Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, compilation copyright © 2012 Condé Nast. To be published by Abrams, October 2012.

As if you aren’t already excited enough and/or if you don’t like to read, Vogue will also be releasing a Documentary In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye on HBO. The documentary, which premieres on December 6th, will explore the role of a fashion stylist by highlighting the visual and historical contributions of Vogue editors like Polly Allen Mellen, Grace Coddington, and Camilla Nickerson. Check out never-before-seen clips at

By Kristianne Young

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