Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seven minutes with Christine Centenera

You've got to hand it to Christine Centenera. The former fashion editor of Harpers Bazaar Australia, newly-appointed senior fashion editor of Vogue Australia and fashion director of the soon-to-be-unveiled "diffusion brand" Miss Vogue, consultant to Kanye West and Ksubi – not to mention life partner of hotshot Australian designer Josh Goot – is one of the most globally-visible Australian fashion figures. If not the most visible, with her killer personal style religiously documented by the world's fashion media every time she steps out at an international fashion event. And much to her eternal chagrin it seems. Another thing that singles the ├╝ber stylish, part-Filipino out is her humility. In a world of attention whores, Centenera seems genuinely embarrassed by the attention, barely putting herself out there in social media – with just a recent Instagram account to her name.

Centenera is one of at least four Harpers Bazaar Australia names to move across to Vogue after the axing of longtime Vogue editor Kirstie Clements in May - with former Harpers Bazaar Australia editor Edwina McCann just-installed in the Vogue editor's chair. Georgie McCourt-Abay is reportedly due to join Vogue next week as deputy editor and Jill Davison is heading over in August as fashion director. We hear Harpers' market editor Rebecca Carati may also be en route.

Centenera was on deck on Monday night to see Dion Lee crowned the Australian regional winner of the International Woolmark Prize. We had a quick chat, in which she revealed a little more of the MO of the refurb which is due to be unveiled on September 1st with the addition of Miss Vogue, a "Spy Style" blogger network and the revamped Club Vogue.

It's all part of a purported digital revolution that's about to be unleashed at which McCann - who has apparently yet to even join Twitter - is promising will deliver "Australia's number one fashion news source".

So you jumped ship. Was it an easy process?
I guess jumping from one magazine to another is never an easy process. But I'd been at Bazaar for 10 years so actually before I moved to Vogue I was ready to move on. So it was kind of the right time for me, anyhow, to have a change and make a change. It just so happened that it was to Vogue.

Was it a bit of a dream to work for a Vogue?

Yeah, I mean when you work at a fashion magazine, I guess the ultimate title within that market, if you're talking womens' lifestyle and fashion magazines, is Vogue. But in Australia, had it been so much of a goal? I don't know, for me it's about the people that you work with and if you'd asked me a year ago if I would go and work for Vogue, not necessarily, because of the people that were there. I was at a magazine where I really had a connection with my editor and my fashion director and how it was run. 

And now you have all moved over to Vogue.

The fact that that's how it's now being run at Vogue is a bit of a dream come true in the sense in that it's run by people that you respect and admire and can learn from and can be mentored by and [who can] instill this way of working that I guess regulates everything that you're used to. 

Have you caught yourself answering the phone saying "Hello, Harpers Bazaar"?
No, but on my first day, I had to call everyone in to say 'I'm going to New York in a few days and I'm shooting' and I definitely had to catch myself a few times when I almost said 'Bazaar'.

Is there much of a difference though between what you are doing now at Vogue and what you did at Harpers?
Well, there was this whole thing that we just can't go over there and do what we do, we need to make our mark, as far as the direction of Ed and Jill and what they want to do.

But how is what you are doing now different to what you did before? You are still doing the same job.
Essentially it is exactly the same job. Being the fashion editor of Vogue and Harpers is essentially the same thing – you shoot covers, you shoot main fashion. There's always going to be that international element to what we do. But I think the common goal for my fashion team is to bring a local element into what we do. We're trying to produce magazines that aren't just shooting looks from international runways, but trying to bring back that Australian relevance to it. Also, the thing is, we don't have magazine contracts, we work for the Vogue brand. I work for Vogue and it's 50percent online and 50percent for the magazine.

How do you mean you don't have magazine contracts?
Our contracts are for the brand Vogue, not for the magazine. So we produce content for vogue and we produce content for the magazine, on equal footing. So, what we're going to do with this new website, with and Miss Vogue, which will launch in September, is of equal importance to what we do for the magazine. And slightly different.

How is this online strategy different to Harpers'?
Online was not of importance [there], nearly as much. We did produce content for online, but it was kind of off the back of what we did for the magazine. Whereas this is very much, you work for the brand Vogue and obviously that complements the magazine Vogue, of course, but it's equally as important as and Miss Vogue too.

Kirstie Clements believed she was working for the brand Vogue, but she discovered in May that in fact she was working for News Ltd. What other projects are you working on?
I am still working with Kanye. I consult to Ksubi.

Critics were little kinder to Kanye's second collection in March. The first one was savaged.
I think everyone expected the worst.

The fashion industry loves to have celebrities in the front row, but not so much up on the runway.
He just wants to build a brand and make clothes that women want to wear.

Do you have a full-time job with Vogue?

Isn't it difficult to juggle a full-time job with consulting? Who else do you work for?
I only do Kanye and Ksubi. I don't have time to do anything else. All those freelance jobs, I don't really do that anymore. I left The Artist Group [agency]. I kind of like to be part of something that's bigger. I think that the work that I do with Ksubi for example or Kanye, feeds into what I do with the magazine and vice versa.

Does the street style thing still freak you out?
I understand it, but I don't think I'll ever tire of being embarrassed when you have these people asking to take your photo.


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