Note from the editor, Lesley Jane Seymour
The Movie Version of My Life is Over
There are a lot of painful issues brought on by moving after 24 years. There’s the realization that every nook and cranny of my house has been stuffed with physical stuff I forgot about. Some of it is a welcome surprise: the Chanel pearl-draped slides I thought I’d given away but were actually at the bottom of a third-floor closet. I can remember the frenzied sample sale where I bought them when I was working my way up at Vogue. Snagging a Chanel item was a step up for a lowly copywriter; getting a coveted invite to the sale meant I’d “made it.” I also stumbled upon the hand-painted Vuitton handbag that I had to save up my dollars to purchase since they didn’t have sample sales!
Both items will be making a new home in my 2019 wardrobe.
For me, as a former editor in chief and former beauty director, moving — and downsizing — means not just wading through every photo I ever took of my kids, but through closets full of beautiful handbags (sent by designers who needed me to show up in the front row at their collections carrying their brands) and walls of unused beauty products. Which do I toss and which do I keep? And is there anyone who will love these items as much as I did? Why do beauty products make me feel so good? Why do I need five tubes of lip gloss that are almost imperceptibly the same color?
But there is also a lot of emotional stuff to wade through. I’d kept every article I’d ever written and every magazine I ever edited — from Women’s Wear Daily on up — in various books and files or boxes. My new house is half the size of the old and has no attic or basement, and while I’d originally planned to have all my work digitized, the sheer volume of the work that would have to be shipped to be photographed made it all seem silly. Did I really want someone to photograph 70, 300- to 400-page Marie Claire magazines? Plus four years of Redbooks, two years of YMs, and eight years of Mores? Why? What does the story about “What Your Body Shape Says About You” from 1991 have to do with my life today?
While it’s wonderful to know that I can resell many of the high-design clothes and accessories on The RealReal, it’s painful to see a $4000 Prada coat with hand-stitched ornaments (I did have a clothing allowance!) go for $400. What’s more painful, really, is letting go, finally, of the reason I bought it. For the European collections, we would arrive in Milan a day ahead of time so we could shop the stores and snag the latest trends to wear to the shows. I remember my Marie Claire fashion editor standing behind me when I put on the coat; she whispered “Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!” One of my jobs as an editor in chief of a high-fashion magazine was to find a way to get myself photographed by the New York Times or WWD. Picking the right clothes (like that coat) was a way to burnish my personal brand and raise my value among my peers and bosses, and it often translated into actual salary.
But the truth is, those clothes, those shoes, those handbags, those articles no longer have a place in my life. I no longer hit the fashion collections four times a year. I no longer walk the red carpet.
And while I’m relieved to leave behind that editor in chief competition to look fabulous and on-trend every day (Lanvin once told me I couldn’t buy a certain outfit because the editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar already had dibs on it!), it’s also bittersweet. Gone too is the crazy, frenzied (yet terrifying) life of commanding a certain type of attention, of pulling down a large salary and, of course, a clothing allowance. And yet… I’m thrilled I no longer have a boss, that I no longer need to blow my hair each day or put on a full face of makeup. It is simply delicious to hang in my ripped denim shorts and a pair of J.Crew slides, or in my workout clothes. The conversations I have today with business associates and friends are more real. I feel wiser and more centered in myself.
Yes, the movie version of my life is over. But I have a sneaking feeling that the deeper, more gratifying version of my existence has just begun.
Enjoy the issue! xo