Mirabella was the Editor in Chief of American Vogue in the 1970s – sandwiched between icons Vreeland and Wintour, her own contributions are somewhat overshadowed in the modern memory. Yet it is exactly this transitional position which makes this memoir a fascinating read.
Mirabella’s experiences offer a sense of how a leading fashion magazine struggles to maintain its position. Editors come and go – sometimes you are in, sometimes you are out. The insider’s view on Vogue’s daily business in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s is fascinating. Beyond the changing attitudes and the editorial personalities, Mirabella also describes the daily tasks involved in producing a fashion magazine. With a retail garmento background, Mirabella’s unique take on Vogue comes from the perspective of a working woman who thinks of herself as straightforward and practical.
As a memoir it is clearly intended to satisfy Mirabella’s need to have her side of the story on the record. Hirings, firings, and rumours are rife in the world of magazines. While Mirabella does her best to justify her own decisions, in the end she seems less like a heroine than an ordinary woman.
Her two greatest positions both ended in a disappointing way – being fired from Vogue and then watching as her eponymous magazine slipped away from her original vision. Mirabella sometimes hesitates to trust her intuition – she adopts a “wait and see” attitude, and leans on others to make decisions. Eventually this unraveled her ambitions. That said, her great qualities are a strong vision of modern women, humility, a sense of caring and respect for her readers, and a healthy work ethic. Her story offers lessons for all women with careers – both what not to do, and what to do.