With his shiny mop of hair and tortoise shell glasses, Hamish Bowles, the ever-dapper, somewhat avian-looking European editor-at-large for Vogue, seems a bit like a character only Evelyn Waugh could have dreamed up. But Mr. Bowles, 44, is in fact real and, it turns out, he’s quite serious about what it means to live in a ‘Vogue world.’
Mr. Bowles spoke to the Daily Transom last night at around 7:30 p.m. in the Calvin Klein store on Madison Ave. and 60th Street, where he and his new book, Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People, were being toasted with buckets of Veuve Clicquot. The party, which was hosted by Mr. Klein’s creative director, Francisco Costa, was filled to the brim with Condé Nast editors, the majority clad almost entirely in black. Men’s Vogue‘s Jay Fielden and Ned Martel made brief appearances. Vogue‘s Anna Wintour was also there, though, according to one of her assistants at the party, Ms. Wintour planned to make her entrance a mere 15 minutes before the celebration’s end. Other guests included: Deeda Blair, Tory Burch, Renee Rockefeller, Aerin Lauder, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur Elgort, Anh Duong, Marina Rust, Allison Sarofim, Lucy Sykes and Jacquetta Wheeler.
Mr. Bowles admitted that, while working on the book, he felt the immense pressure to uphold Vogue‘s king-of-the-hill legacy. Aside from the expectations placed on his work, he said, “it’s also a great door-opener of course. One of the exciting parts of this book was that I really looked through a hundred years of interiors and lifestyle and architecture coverage in Vogue. It’s extraordinary how ecclectic that coverage has been. It’s been, obviously the fashionable leaders of society, the great swans of the 20th century, but it’s also been the most innovative architects, the most revered artists of the century, so I think there’s an incredible legacy to live up to. I think it’s exciting for people to be asked,” he said of the subjects that appear in Vogue Living.
When he was asked to describe what the quintessential ‘Vogue person’ might be like, Mr. Bowles nodded with an honest grin. “I think it’s all about having the courage of your convictions and having a real personal conviction about style,” he said. Mr. Bowles then went on to describe what it means to be a ‘Vogue trendsetter,’ saying, “I think that they’re the kind of houses and the homemakers, style-makers who create them that we celebrate always have a strong point of view, and it might be quirky and idiosyncratic. You know, it’s a kind of translation of…they’re people who kind of live as they sort of present themselves. It’s a certain sense of style or a vision of how to live or present yourself is a very coherent thing, entity.”
Skeptics might be forgiven for being wary of the tedium that attends the notion of a Vogue person or house, but Mr. Bowles promised that he is constantly being surprised by unexpected people and surroundings when working on a project for the magazine or his new book. “What is exhilarating for me about covering houses and doing lifestyle stories for Vogue and for Vogue Living is the idea that you never know what’s going to lurk behind that door. It’s the idea of constantly being surprised and excited,” he said, wearing a gray, slim-fitting suit over a plaid purple shirt and dark necktie. “For me, the more reflective, the better. All I would say is that I hope and trust that it’s going in very eclectic directions.”