Editor’s letter: welcome to the new-look How To Spend It magazine

Jo Ellison on the changing face of luxury – and why we should all spend it very well

How To Spend It editor Jo Ellison
How To Spend It editor Jo Ellison | Image: Marili Andre

Welcome to the first edition of the new-look How To Spend It. And, for that matter, my first editor’s letter. 

Perhaps, to better make your acquaintance, I should introduce myself: my name is Jo (although, contrary to the popular campfire song, I have never worked in a button factory). Prior to arriving at this magazine I was the Financial Times’ fashion editor and wrote a weekly column. Before that, I worked at Vogue. My first job in journalism was as a sub-editor at the Irish Examiner in Cork. During the interview for that role, I had to do a picture quiz in which I was asked to name various public figures and failed to identify almost anyone other than the late Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Suffice to say, the editor thought it best to keep me away from the news agenda – which at the time was preoccupied with Roy Keane, the Kerry Babies scandal and abuses in the Catholic Church – and instead put me in charge of the “hearts and flowers” section, as he described the features pages. Good for him. I have happily stayed there ever since. 

On being made editor of How To Spend It six months ago, I knew I was being handed a precious jewel: a 25-year-old institution, distributed across three continents with a coveted and cherished readership. The brief was clear: handle with care. And yet the magazine was due a refresh. This is a great time to start new dialogues about how we spend it and the terms by which we define the “spend”. The world of luxury has changed completely in recent years, and I am keen that these pages reflect its many different iterations and the different lifestyles that attends. I hope our How To Spend It embraces a broad church. 

Model Malgosia Bela appears in a collaboration cooked up between our new style director Isabelle Kountoure, the photographer Kuba Ryniewicz, Bela and her husband, Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski
Model Malgosia Bela appears in a collaboration cooked up between our new style director Isabelle Kountoure, the photographer Kuba Ryniewicz, Bela and her husband, Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski | Image: Kuba Ryniewicz

As for the magazine itself, we have redesigned it, reinvigorating old favourites and introducing new features. We have also given it more structure, so you know clearly where you are. The first section, The Fix, will be your directory to all that is current – an essential index to the key trends, collaborations, special collections and cultural happenings of the week. An expanded Aesthete remains the undisputed realm of the world’s great tastemakers, while our insider’s guide, “How To Spend It in…”, invites favourite creatives and corporate leaders to share a personal itinerary of the cities they know best. Cult ShopTechnopolis and Travelista have all had a makeover and, in our expanded food and drink section, Alice Lascelles is joined by new contributing editor Ajesh Patalay, who will digest the latest dietary trends and dine at the world’s most desired tables. Health, beauty and lifestyle will also be big features of the magazine in future. Regardless of means, we want you to spend it very well. 

There are other additions too. We have responded to the reader clamour that we should be more mindful about environmental matters with a new regular feature, The Cause, which will give voice to bigger social, charitable and philanthropic efforts. Our debut crusader, Anya Hindmarch, first raised the alarm over single-use plastic 13 years ago with her staggeringly popular “I am not a plastic bag” campaign. She outlines her new eco mission in an exclusive interview

But now to fashion, the theme of this particular issue and a new season of styles. Sitting before the spring/summer 2020 collections last September, I was once again reminded of the strange cycles fashion spins. More specifically, I found myself looking at catwalks full of clothes I remembered from the workplace of the late 1990s – platform soles, thin-knit tops, cardigans, blazers, pencil skirts. Wondering who might best encapsulate this new mood for 1990s minimalism, I hoped that Malgosia Bela, the model who first broke through during that period, would be our muse. I was thrilled when she agreed, and the resulting story – a collaboration cooked up between our new style director Isabelle Kountoure, the photographer Kuba Ryniewicz, Bela and her husband, Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski – is a touching testimony to their shared experiences of London. 

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By contrast, new contributing editor Alexander Fury has traced another fashion renaissance in the form of Christian Lacroix. Alex and I have rubbed shoulders at the shows for the past five years, and I always relish his strident opinions and considered points of view. Alex is an unapologetic superfan of extravagant excess, and his knowledge of fashion is proudly, quite scarily, encyclopedic. He’s also an avid collector. Hence, when I asked if he would write about the rash of romantic 1980s ruffles, leopard-print and fuchsia we’ll be seeing – and very possibly wearing – this summer, he not only wrote some smashing words, he provided a full wardrobe of vintage Lacroix for us to photograph as well. The piece is testament to the sheer joy of dressing up. Add to that Alice Cavanagh’s report on why the classic Chanel jacket remains the ultimate investment piece, and Vivienne Becker on red-carpet jewellery, and we hope you’ll find hundreds of ways to spend it – even better than ever.

@jellison22

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