Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Vogue Talent Contest



I’m in a subdued airport terminal corridor at eleven pm. Everyone hurrying by looks tired and desperate to get home. We feel the same. We have just spent the week in Spain surrounded by fresh fish, terracotta buildings and plenty of sun. I am standing with my family on a 'travelator', which is moving along at a sedate pace. I scroll through a slew of bland PR emails on my phone, and then spot something that makes my stomach do a grand jete.

Vogue Talent Contest 2011- Result.
“Dear Rosalind, I am delighted to announce that you are the winner of the Vogue Talent Contest 2011...”
“Oh my Jesus!”
My mum turns around, looking concerned.
“Is it bad news?”
I shake my head and babble.
“I’m the winner! It says I’ve won!”
News of this email travels down the single file line of our family and friends in a Chinese Whisper. My dad asks if I’m sure. Where was it sent from? Is it a friend’s hoax? Nope, it’s real. I need to sit down.

The Vogue Talent Contest has been held every year for the last 60 years. Previous winners include novelist Owen Sheers and Vogue contributors Charlotte Sinclair and Harriet Quick.
The entry requirements are straightforward: to be under 25, and to submit three written articles – a memory, a polemic and a cultural review. It is the latter, written by me that can be found in the current October Issue of UK Vogue on page 204. I titled this third piece (Agri)cultural Review – it uses elements of parody but is also part commentary on an event in the rural calendar. Ironically this was the one I had fretted about most, as I hadn’t visited any galleries or shows since before my surgery in October 2010. It was the last of the three to get written, and was something of a wild card in terms of the idea and inspiration.

The other two entry pieces will be posted on my blog in the coming weeks. All three were written in Spring – and were continually polished, re-worked re-drafted and pedantically edited for several weeks. I worked on them at the same time as I prepared for my art exam, and geared up ahead of revision season. The envelope addressed to Conde Nast was finally posted in a fluster on the day before the closing date, sent by Recorded Delivery.

A letter telling me I had been shortlisted, replete with Alexandra Shulman’s signature, arrived the day before my final GCSE exam. I was so shocked I could only squeak and hyperventilate, like a set of dropped bagpipes. There was just one drawback. On the day of the lunch to which all finalists were invited, at Vogue headquarters in Hanover Square, I was due to be in a plane on the way to Spain. Being shortlisted was, by itself a huge honour that I rode high on, but how I wanted to sit down to lunch with the editors and writers I admired. I think I may have sulked. Alternative flights were sought,  but it was fruitless. All the feverish internet activity didn't turn up a way to get me on holiday a day later. There were no flights available.
It was several days later when I had already emailed Vogue to inform them that I would, sadly, not be able to attend, that our friends (with whom we were holidaying) rang to let us know they had found an alternate plan – an available flight to a tiny, recently opened airport. If I could make my way across London to Heathrow on the day after the lunch then I could join my family in Galicia. There was no question - I immediately emptied my bank account to book the new flight.

This was how I found myself waking up as the sky stretched its arms and yawned very early on a Friday morning. I was driven to the train by a friend, to be met at the other end by the wonderful person I call my ‘honorary uncle’: Clive Boursnell – an extraordinary photographer who then captured me walking into the Conde Nast building (he positioned me twice, oblivious to antagonising surrounding traffic!) He had also entertained me on the tube journey and quick cafe visit with his anecdotes and tales of Bea Miller, Bill Gibb and Cecil Beaton. So, the top three photos and the one below are with thanks to and courtesy of Clive.



After a fair degree of indecision, the outfit I had chosen was as shown: a vintage Jaeger cream silk shirt, (charity shopped), tucked into my favourite St Michael’s vintage cream culottes, also second hand. Over the top was a full length cardigan (birthday present...from a charity shop), kept in place with a worn, pink leather obi belt from ebay. My shoes were Carvela – heeled brogues that clicked as I strode through the revolving door over to the reception desk. Gold letters above my head spelt out V-O-G-U-E.

After giving my name I joined the other finalists (eight of us in total - and they were all so interesting, engaging and talented, but most of all, friendly) who were piled up on a leather couch. We smiled and introduced ourselves. Our ages ranged from 16 (me) to 25, and among us there were students, graduates, interns and a science teacher specialising in astrophysics.
We were soon called upstairs, where we were each given a name badge and a glass of bubbly – served in glasses that curved out like lilies. The judges included Alexandra Shulman (UK Vogue editor), Julie Myerson (novelist), Jo Ellison, Emma Elwick-Bates, Lisa Armstrong and Frances Bentley.
There was a brief ‘getting to know each other’ and then we were ushered through to the lunch room. The walls were bright white, covered with monochrome portraits and fashion shots from Vogue’s illustrious history. Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton stared down at me and I felt my cheeks flush the same colour as my belt.
We were seated with a judge either side; the judges moving two places along after every course, meaning that each finalist had the chance potentially to talk with six other people. The conversations were informal – with Alexandra Shulman it ranged from discussing the Ballet Russes, the inspirational Tim Walker (who was one of “her photographers” that she had championed) and the V&A; then with Julie Myerson - scoliosis and University choices. Recurring themes were my spine, my school, my future and my age, (I was referred to as “the baby” more times than I've sat on late trains). I was overwhelmed when Julie Myerson described my piece about recovering in intensive care as having “no extra words” and feeling like a part of something bigger. I also discussed fashion and style blogs with a different judge, and we evaluated the future of blogging as an industry.

When the conversation and delicious food drew to a close a few hours later we were offered a tour of the Conde Nast building. As you can imagine, no-one turned it down! We first explored the offices of GQ and Tatler, before being ushered along to the floor that housed Vogue. The highlight was, of course the clothes - ooh the clothes. The sheer volume of garments was breathtaking. Whole rails of trousers; walls of cosy looking jumpers and capes; rows of shoes lined up neatly like schoolchildren; an extraordinary sequinned dress accessorized with feathers. A member of staff made a reference to staying in the office until midnight and I wasn’t surprised.
It was strange seeing the magazine stripped back to its bare components, like the switches on a circuit board or the chemicals in a concoction. The people I was observing were the ones responsible for a new UK Vogue plopping through my front door every month.

The final part of our tour led us to the basement, where the Vogue archives are housed. I could happily camp out there – shelves heaving with fashion and photography books, alongside large files with every back issue of Vogue (both UK and foreign editions) from 1950 onwards.
By the time I floated away from this extraordinary day of meeting inspirational professionals and incredibly talented finalists, I felt complete. I had already worked out who I thought would win, and I was just ecstatic to have been given such an opportunity. As far as I was concerned, being shortlisted and getting to attend the lunch was a prize in itself. I left for Spain the next morning, shouldering a sense of fulfilment on one shoulder, and a very heavy bag on the other.

After recovering from the shock of being told I had won, I remembered that the most incredible part of the winner’s prize is a month of paid work experience at Vogue, which I will complete next summer. All I will say is that I truly can’t wait.




See also Vogue.com here


84 comments:

Jess Tran said...

Seriously, congratulations. That is so amazing. You deserve it.

I love that you wrote so much - I read every word and enjoyed it. I hope you have the best time at the paid work experience!

xx Jess Loves Fred

Peacock's Hat said...

Oh my god, that is absolutely incredible! Congratulations! I have always meant to enter the competition but have just never gotten around to it- I should get a wriggle on though since I only have 4 chances left! I have just collected my Vogue from the letterbox and am about to rifle through to read your article. I am so pleased for you, it is nice to hear of someone so talented getting the chance they deserve, which I think is not often something that happens in fashion.

Rosa Goodchild said...

That sounds absalutly AMAZING! A very well earned congradulations to you!
By the way, that outfit is fantastic, espeshily the brogues and cardigan. I bet they loved it.
I'm looking forward to getting this months vogue - I will be looking for you. :)

lory said...

Interesting. Congratulations!

Fashion, Art and other fancies said...

Warm congratulations on the first prize! You are éxcellent at writing, creating and storytelling.

dyswis said...

Well done! I was actually chatting to Julie Myerson at a function a couple of months ago and she told me she had been asked to be a judge on this year's award.

I wish I'd known about it - all the way from Australia - when I was still young enough to enter. What an amazing experience and opportunity. Relish and revel, Rosalind.

xo

Josie said...

This is SO FABULOUS! Congratulations! All your hard work was worth it. :)

GlamorouslyRomantic said...

Congratulations, Rosalind! This is such an amazing thing to happen and I can't wait to read your articles. Following your blog for a while now, I honestly feel that you were meant to be an rider and I hope that winning this contest and the month at Vogue next year will not only be great experiences for you, but also benefit you for your future career. Once again, congratulations!

xoxo, Melanie

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Roz, I am so gloriously happy for you, my head is spinning at this wonderful, wonderful news!! Congratulations, what an incredible surprise it must have been, returning from holiday to hear such good news:)).
The finalist's lunch sounds really exciting and I would certainly want to camp out with you in the Vogue archives for a few days - heavenly reading!!!
I love the obi belt you wore with your silk blouse and trews - fantastic outfit choice! xoxoxo

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

Wow, I am SO happy for you!!!! That is amazing! Congrats!

MargieF said...

This must have been such an amazing experience. I cant imagine how ecstatic I would feel if I had received that Winner email. I am a little bit jealous of you for getting to work at Vogue
Margief
x
www.margieheartsclothes.blogspot.com

meegiemoo said...

Congratulations and well deserved after your surgery and difficult recovery.

Say Hi to Anna Wintour from the internet.

Marina Saclley @ Iced VoVo's said...

Many congratulations Ros!
I saw the article a few days ago when my Vogue subscription arrived. You are a very talented writer and I so enjoy reading your blog.
I wish you every success in your future ... I know you will go a long way!
xx

Kate McCarthy Design said...

Congratulations, there is no one more deserved of such a prize. Regardless of your age, it is an astonishing achievement. But when you factor in age also, it becomes truly phenomenal. Your prose is so consistently articulate, beautiful and inspriring and I anticipate, with bated breathe, seeing your contribution in the magazine. A hearty hoorah again to you.

sacramento said...

I am so glad for you, but you deserve Vogue in all levels. You are young, but wise, beautiful, humnble, and a wonderful writer.
Mil besos and CONGRATULATIONS!!!
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

FashionableAsians said...

Congrats! Such an amazing opportunity, you'll do great!

Penny Dreadful said...

Wow Rosalind, that is wonderful news - a huge congratulations to you. You work really hard so it is really well deserved. xx

Nelly said...

I lways read your blog just dont comment But wanted to send a huge congratulations to you I am so impressed with that fact you are so young yet so mature well done you.

Fashionistable said...

Congratulations with all my heart. You are the best. Xxxx

Caitlin Rose said...

Congratulations Ros! You are talented, and beautiful, but mostly you just seem to have a kindness too you, so I think you will be so successful because of it!

Lydia said...

OMG, Rosalind!!! That is so amazing! You definitely deserve it. I think you are on to very big things.

The Virtual Stylist said...

Congratulations, very well deserved indeed. You are a very gifted writer.

Amy x
http://thevirtualstylist.blogspot.com/

Raez said...

wow that is an absolutely amazing achievement, congratulations! I'm sure you and your family are very proud of you for accomplishing so much so young!

congrats again!
xx Raez

The Foolish Aesthete said...

There is no one else I think more deserving than you in winning that Vogue writing contest. Polka Dot and I were just extolling your virtues, skills and beauty on her blog the other day. Congratulations on this new tangent in your life's journey! I am so excited for your stint with Vogue next year. Big, virtual hug from the Wild West... xxx

Vix said...

Congratulations! I'm genuinely delighted for you, Roz, I can't think of a more deserving and wonderful young talent. xxx

Oh are you sure about that? said...

This is amazing, well done ! I will look out for your article in vogue .
So great about the work placement too, what a brilliant experience to have. X

Jazzy E (hivenn) said...

Congratulations! I have goosebumps, that's so good. x hivenn

alexandratherese said...

Utterly amazing Rosalind - I am so thrilled for you! And if you ever need a partner in crime to steal into Vogue's head quarters and camp out there then you know where I am! It'll be really insightful to hear what it's actually like in there! x

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Huge congratulations, it's all so wonderful! I am absolutely thrilled for you. You earned this, Roz. Well done! xoxo

Ginta said...

Congratulations! It's amazing! I was so excited to read the news on twitter! Well deserved!

Jessica said...

WOW, that is fantastic, well done!
I love the outfit :)

http://chicgeekblogger.blogspot.com/

Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

http://iouproject.com/tsh/jessica-karen/

the nyanzi report said...

excellent news! congratulations.

Lx said...

WOW that is truely amazing! but not unexpected becacause I have come to expect anything from reading about your blog and bright life :)
You deserve this just for the beautiful way in which you write, well done xxx

Bella said...

Congratulations! You truly deserve it, you're writing is absolutely beautiful!

<3

OrigamiGirl said...

Congratualtion! This sounds uttlerly fantastic, especially as you were the youngest entrant. I always thought you were in your 20s because you look so sophisticated. The outfit in these photos is once again gorgeous. I love the big red belt.
I'm looking forward to reading your three pieces!

Ivon+Liz said...

Congratulations! You surely will have a wonderful summer next year! .. Know already what you will wear the first day to work? ;)

Lucia said...

a huuuuuuge congratulations, you completely deserve to have won. you write so well & have such talent! the fact that the winner's prize is a month's paid work experience at vogue is absolutely fantastic too, it'll be faaaabulous. congrats again xx

Closet Fashionista said...

AHH!!!! That is SO exciting!!! HUGE Congratulations are in order! you are such a great writer, you totally deserve it! I may have to find a UK issue of VOGUE here in the US so I can read it! :D
http://www.closet-fashionista.com

PinkBow said...

congratulations (again). and i am so pleased you have written in this detail the experience of your day. i thoroughly enjoyed it.

styleeast said...

I can't think of a better way to articulate my feelings about this than to say yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! It's so richly deserved and you know I think you are an exceptionally talented young lady with a very very very bright future :)
(makes me sounds like such the mother hen!!)
xx

Koltunovskaya said...

Congratulations!!)))

CALAMITY JANE said...

Oh god! I'm so happy for you Roz you totally deserve it!! I'm going to get that Vogue as soon as it can be found in Argentina

Anna G said...

Congratulations on such an honor. Your writing is so rich and well-written.

amateur idler said...

Oh my gosh! Congratulations! I know it's a run of the mill expression, but seeing how hard you work at truly crafting your writing, you deserve it. Vogue is lucky to have you.

clara turbay said...

REally goog pictures.
I like this blog. please check out mine.

http://paquetevistasbien.blogspot.com

adrielleroyale said...

WoW!! That is so cool!! Congratulations indeed!!! You definitely deserve it girl!! Soak it up! :)

Jill really is awesome isn't she? It's no wonder she likes you so well - it takes one to know one... ;)

Not Just A Pretty Dress said...

Congratulations Rosalind! Just found out the news and discovered your lovely blog thanks to Dvora@Fashionstanble...I've been reading (and loving) Vogue UK for many years and I cannot wait to see your feature in the October issue.

http://notjustaprettydress.blogspot.com/

scientistchic said...

Roz, congratulations. I cannot think of a more worthy winner - week upon week you regularly produce thought-provoking and intelligent writing on this blog. Enjoy your victory, and I look forward to seeing more of your writings from the competition!

Carly said...

I really can't congratulate you enough Roz. I've always loved you blog posts so I'm thrilled to see your writing in Vogue.

Let me know when your work experience starts, hopefully I'll see you around the hallowed halls when I'm prepping for shoots with Contributing Fashion editor Gillian Wilkins.

This post reminded me so much of my first day as an intern at Vogue and wandering around in awe of everyone and everything, especially the Vogue archives. I spent a perfect day down there gathering research for a shoot.

Also, the outfit you wore was perfect!

Lots of love. Carly xx

Shabna said...

Congratulations! You write so beautifully and you are gorgeous! You definitely deserve it, your article was fabulous! x

Autumn said...

Wow! That is awesome! Congrats! I hope you do well.
~
Autumn

Amanda said...

This is fantastic, congratulations! You definitely deserve it... Enjoy the work experience at VOGUE and go mad at charity shops with your prize money xx

Shervin Nassi said...

LOVE THIS LOOK!!!! Absolutely Gorgeous!

Nanangel said...

Lovely look...
great articulate...

comeintoourroom.blogspot.com

Sorcha said...

Congratulations Roz that's wonderful! With your obvious talent for writing how could they not have chosen you?! Oh and I ADORE your long cardigan! xx

Meena Dhuga said...

wow! congratulations! that is so amazing! I am very jealous!


http://pinklemonsorbet.blogspot.com/

Meena ♥

Isi, Wake up & smell the azahar said...

Congratulations! I'm so glad you won, it's fully deserved, you're so talented.

Pearl Westwood said...

I am so happy for you I cannot find the words! xxx

Hayley said...

congratulations!! you deserve it.. you have such beautiful, elegant style =)

http://hayleyhour.blogspot.com/

Tatiana said...

Roz, that is one of the most incredible opportunities! You deserved every second of it, and I cannot wait to hear all about you interning at Vogue next summer! Great for you!

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

Wow, Roz... I'm absolutely delighted for you! I have no doubt the other entries were all wonderful as well, but I'm sure you deserved it. The piece they will publish sounds very interesting, and I look forward to reading it, and the others here on your blog. And the paid work experience sounds like the most exciting part. A very sincere congratulations!

Celynne said...

Congrats! So amazing!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I used to lurk here, but just wanted to de-lurk to say congratulations! You write beautifully, and I'm so happy that the tippy-top of fashion recognised it.

AvaPilar said...

Oh Roz, I am so happy for you! I read on Jills blog that you had won a few days ago and i am truly proud for you! I must admit I am a little jealous though...

Style Sud-Est said...

Hi Roz! Congrats! i have been following you but never wrote a comment- you truly deserve it you are stunning!

Ariane

Flis said...

Wow that is absolutely amazing! Congratulations! xD

Sofie Marie said...

I've been meaning to give you a comment to say how amazing you are,and a big congratulations! So incredibly exciting,and I can't wait to read your entries,as well as see how the intern goes next summer.Another big well done(okay,maybe that sounds just a tad mumsy....),makes me very interested to give entering a go next year.
Sofie

Kate said...

Congratulations, I read your article in Vogue and it was brilliant, such a great piece of writing. You definitely deserved to win!
www.styleisalwaysfashionable.blogspot.com

kirstyb said...

loving that long cardi x

Mihaela said...

Wow! Congrats! You have a wonderful writing style and I'm glad they appreciate it.

P.S. The photos and outfits are amazing too!

San said...

Oh my, this is FANTASTIC. Congratulations. This is sooooooo awesome. I'm really happy for you.

And the writing of this post is exquisite as always. Wonderful.

Have a wonderful new week.

the Citizen Rosebud said...

SO PROUD OF YOU! Congrats dear talented and beautiful Roz! Most deserved! I KNEW you were destined for Vogue magazine! OMG! HURRAH!

Miki's scrapbook said...

Congrats, Roz! You totally deserve it! ;D

Have a fab week!

Miki.

L'age moyen said...

Many many congrats. Well-deserved and how exciting.

isa telaraña said...

Congratulations. You are the best!

Maycie After Five said...

You have the most gorgeous hair!

Loved reading this post too (great as always).

Soccer Mom Style said...

Sorry, I'm so late about congratulating you. I am so excited to learn you won. I can't wait to ready your entries. I tried to look up the one that's printed in UK Vogue but no luck :( Maybe I didn't look right. I live in the U.S. and don't get UK Vogue. Would love to read all three pieces.
xx
maya

p.s.
Congratulations also on getting excellent grades! I think I read somewhere on Jill blog? you did really well in school. So very excited for you!!

Sally Pitman said...

That really is fabulous and the judges did good! I went quite crazy and bought a copy of Vogue ....loved the piece and it brought back lots of Norfolk show memories!

Shannon Distel Scanlan said...

Wonderful news! Congratulations, you are an amazing young woman who I look forward to following for many years.
Best,
Shannon

Back to Front said...

Congratulations! I have just come across your blog and your style of writing is beautiful!x

The PvdH Journal said...

I just cannot believe I stumbled into your blog!!! Just this week I read your entry in Vogue and thought how amazingly talented the writer was (and your picture was just stunning!).

Congratulations, you are one hell of a talent to watch out for. I'll be sure to follow you (and I cant wait to have more time to appreciate more of your writing!)

S.L. Gabriel said...

You look like you stepped out of a storybook.

Sigrid said...

u were a sure win <3 :)

Love Sigrid

Zhao Jiayi said...

Hello! :) I'll just like to ask when you were notified that you were a finalist? I understand that sometime in June, the finalists will receive a letter telling them they have been shortlisted, when exactly is that? Thank you!