Monday, 13 June 2011

Interview with Alexandra from

Alexandra Vanthournout


Freelance Fashion Journalist, Blogger




Tell us a bit about your life. Where have you been? What have you seen? What else do you want to achieve?
I'm originally from Belgium, moved to London to go to university fresh out of boarding school which was at an abbey with nuns and monks and was thrown into the deep end. I never planned to stay but fell utterly in love with the city. I studied a BA in Journalism, then an MA in Fashion Journalism at LCF. From there I spent a very long time doing internships at various magazines, press offices, etc, before deciding to go it alone. I've been very lucky to have met the people I have, who have helped me in this really tough industry, but at the end of the day there's nothing else but hard work and persistence if you want to 'make it'. Ii'm currently at the stage where my blog is becoming my full time occupation and have to start thinking about it as a business. I've recently been thinking about new challenges for me, using the platform of the blog and the loyal readers I've accumulated - perhaps a webshop selling some of the designers I love, perhaps more of a consultancy or styling role. Who knows... the future is looking very exciting!

When and why did you start 'Alex Loves'?
I'd just ended a very intense and interesting 6 months at the Louis Vuitton press office and had decided that the next job I did would be The Job. I was already working as a freelancer, so the pressure wasn't so big. I didn't quite know what to do with myself and all this time so I just started a blog to keep myself occupied. It would be a great way to post the things my editors didn't approve of, my personal choices without having to think about readership or advertisers... "Alex Loves" was chosen on a whim without much thought, I taught myself CSS in a week and built my own site. Late November 2009 I went online and started posting whatever I felt like. Had anyone told me I'd be doing this 1.5 years later, that I'd sit front row at a Chanel show, and could be earning money off doing what I love, I'd have laughed, but some things just happen - Alex Loves was just my happy accident.

We understand that you freelance for ELLE Belgium, how did you get into that?

During one of my summers off at university I went back to Belgium (where I'm from) and did an internship with the team. I kept in touch after leaving and have done several great features for them since. I asked them if I could cover LFW for ELLE Belgium, so I did my first season aged 21 and now 8 seasons later I still do. It's great and tricky at the same time. A lot of well known designers here in London have never been heard of in Belgium, so it's a matter of introducing them to the public. Recently, ELLE have done a feature on me as a blogger - funny how the tables have turned.

What other fashion, social media experiences do you have?
I've definitely paid my dues in terms of internships. I've spent time in several fashion cupboards around the city, spent 5 months in a great role at Wallpaper*, as I mentioned before, I've worked at the LV Press Office. It was important to me to try a bit of everything before deciding where I wanted to end up. Social media was non-existent when I first started (not so long ago!), now it's a necessity. In terms of what I do, I've learned every step of the way myself. Blogs, twitter, facebook - it might seem trivial and unnecessary to some, but it's at the core of what I do.

Any advice for budding fashionistas?

For bloggers: work hard, have your own voice and style - not someone else's! - and keep going, even if only 5 people read it. People who are just in it for the fame, freebies and recognition will always get caught out. It's really, really hard work and unless it's really what you want to do, then you won't last.
For people wanting to work in the industry: be willing to pay your dues. Internships might seem disheartening, but it's the way this industry works, and it's the way you meet all the right people. Anyone who thinks they can just get their dream job without experience will find the reality very hard. At most of my internships I've met the people who have made it possible for me to do what I do. You might not earn much or anything, but contacts and experience is much more valuable in this situation. It's a harsh truth, but the fashion world isn't all about parties and pretty clothes. That's the perk for those who've worked hard for it.

Where do you source your blog posts from?
It can be anything - often from events I'll have been to, online finds, information that PR's send me, ... I try to make it a point not to just take the info that is sent to me but make it more personal, photograph it myself, put my own spin on it - otherwise we just become copycat blogs. Some brands or retailers I have a great relationship with, so they will offer me an exclusive or the opportunity to experience the product myself, sometimes it's just a place or gallery I've been to I feel like sharing. My blog name doesn't scream "FASHION" so I'm free to write whatever I want. Whatever I love. Positive only!

What do you think about the blog world? Do you think it's fair that some bloggers get exclusive access to products, fashion shows etc.?

I have this conversation several times a week. You'd think that by now this conversation would have settled, but it really hasn't. At LFW, I attend as a journalist, so I'm in a slightly different position on this. But do I think that bloggers should be allowed tickets? Backstage access? Exclusives? Front row seats? You bet. Bloggers have the luxury of covering something extensively, with unlimited pictures and video - a magazine or newspaper usually edits this to just 1. There are some bloggers with a huge readership, bigger than some papers or magazines, why shouldn't they be there? They can often generate much more interest, and much more immediate. This is just the new generation of journalists whether people like it or not, and yes, there is a certain difficulty that comes with this - who is and who isn't allowed? - but that's the PR's job to know. I think bloggers shouldn't be seen as an entity, but individually. A 12 year old girl with a camera and a dream is not the same as a professional blogger with a readership of thousands a day, just like Heat magazine isn't the same as Vogue.

Where do you find your inspiration from?

Mostly the internet. Also people on the street, events, 'real' shops, conversations with friends, art, ...

How would you describe your style?

Preppy, classic but always with a twist, usually dressed in black.

Top 5 fashion blogs? For my daily news fix Men's blogging with a difference Most beautiful pictures, love Jen's style Fashion, photography, gorgeous girl 3 Stylish girls doing it for Belgium!

Top 5 places?
Knokke (Belgium)

Which fashion statement do you love/hate the most?

Clogs. Inexplicable.

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