Image courtesy of Marie Claire
Interview

Anne Fulenwider

11.03.15

Anne Fulenwider was the best person for the job when she re-joined Marie Claire as Editor in Chief in 2012. When she left as Executive Editor a couple of years prior it was for a good reason – she took the EIC job at Brides and gave the magazine a whole new direction. The same can be said for Marie Claire – the industry’s most well-rounded women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine. Fulenwider’s experience is vast and has depth – and the magazine’s content benefits from her constant curiosity, passion for culture, and willingness to share compelling stories.

Interview

Have you always enjoyed fashion? What is your earliest fashion memory?

I love fashion but I didn’t grow up in the industry. Really my first job in fashion was being Editor in Chief of Marie Claire. My first fashion memory is probably of going through my parents’ wedding album—they were married in Manhattan in 1970–and falling in love with the empire waist dresses, floral Pucci prints, pouffy hair, and pale lipstick.

Was Editor in Chief of an industry-leading, women’s fashion, beauty, and lifestyle magazine on your career radar while studying at Harvard?

Yes, absolutely. I had been editor of my high school newspaper, and I always wanted to be editor of something. I spent my adolescent years pouring over fashion magazines, tearing out pages to tack on my wall. When I interviewed at The Paris Review they asked “What do you want to be doing in ten years?” and I answered without waiting a beat “I want to be editor of a really cool magazine.” I think they were taken aback because many of the people who worked there, who remain my dear friends, wanted to be novelists and poets. I love the written word but the immediacy, collaboration, and pace of a magazine have always appealed to me.

As an English Literature major, entertainment and fashion was an obvious departure – what made you make the transition from The Paris Review to Vanity Fair?

I don’t agree that entertainment and fashion were an obvious departure from my studies. As an English Literature major, as well as a rabid consumer of all forms of culture, I have a deep love of stories. The Paris Review, Vanity Fair, and Marie Claire are all places where I have been able to indulge that passion. I wrote my college thesis about female non-verbal communication in the works of the Bronte sisters. The various non-verbal ways women get their message across is something I think about in my job every day.

What was it like working for Graydon Carter?

Graydon was a fabulous boss. He took the job very seriously but he also maintained a great sense of humor. I learned many, many things from working for him for ten years. One of the most important was to make sure that everything you do is done well, and the other is to remain endlessly curious about the world around you. It keeps you young, keeps your ideas fresh, and keeps your magazine competitive.

When you accepted the position at Brides, surely it made you think about your own wedding. How fun was it to live in that world for a bit?

I think the first year of being an editor in chief is a huge endeavor all around, and I was glad that I was able to experience that at a place where I could relate so easily to the content. In my first editor’s letter I wrote about my own wedding, but I learned very quickly that our readers were wildly creative, resourceful, and original, and my country wedding from ten years ago was totally old news to them.

During your time at Brides – you refashioned the magazine to include content (finances, travel) perhaps things brides-to-be may not have on their minds when planning a wedding. Was this the intent to remind brides their lives are not only about the wedding?

Finances and travel were deeply on my mind when I planned my own wedding, and were two of the things we routinely heard about from our readers. The changes I made at Brides were to me a very natural inclusion of the many conversations around building a life together with a partner. The way women are approaching their lives, their careers, their long-term relationships, their marriages and their weddings has changed so dramatically in the last, say, 20 years, or even five, and I wanted the magazine to reflect that.

At the time did you anticipate women aside from brides-to-be picking up the magazine? Was this the goal?

No. Though we did have a surprising number of non-engaged readers. The goal was to create a wedding magazine that reflected the needs and desires of a modern, millennial bride.

You’re three years in at Marie Claire, how do you hope your vision for the magazine has impacted your readers on a personal level?

At Marie Claire I have aimed to inspire, engage, and empower women around the world. My general vision for the magazine is always to create fresh, hip, exciting content for women who love fashion and who are passionate about life and are living it to the fullest–fully engaged with the culture and the world at large. I hope they are always able to learn something new and be inspired by the stories they read in Marie Claire.

How do you and your team of writers and editors define good content?

Delicious, inspiring, relevant and necessary. Anything that women are talking about, wearing, watching, concerned and fired up about makes for good content for MC. Also if it piques my interest, if it’s something I feel can inspire passion in the readers, whether that be because it’s a trend story that picks up on a new direction in women’s lives, a first person story about something crazy or inspiring that happened to one woman, or a breaking news story or investigative story about an issue crucial to women’s lives.

Having been in the women’s world of magazines for awhile now, what topics do women respond to most?

Women respond to compelling stories that are relevant to their lives— whether it be to their love life, their wardrobe, their career, a personal story they recognize a little bit of themselves in, or a cause they care deeply about.

If you had to choose five famous women as role models for your readership, who would you choose?

So many extraordinary women to choose from. Alive now? I might choose Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Joan Didion, Malala Yousuf, Michelle Obama, and, because she seems like she is enjoying life and staying true to herself, Jennifer Lawrence.

Did you enjoy the Spring 2016 shows? What collections stood out to you?

I loved the Givenchy show in New York and the Louis Vuitton show in Paris. And I love what Alessandro Michele is doing at Gucci.

What’s your personal style like? Do you have a uniform of sorts?

For my professional life I like to stay pretty classic and clean, a bit minimal, and dare I say a bit menswear-influenced. I like refined clothes in clean lines I feel I can put together in a million ways, and as an editor in chief who also happens to be the working mother of two young children I can grab a pair of cool pants and a well cut top, grab a jacket and not think entirely too much about it but still manage to look put together.

What trends will we see in the Spring issues of the magazine?

All of them. 🙂

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