Last night, Laura Bradley (AnOther magazine) spoke with Alex Fury (The Independent) about ‘words’ at the Design Museum, for their #wordweek. Bradley started off by saying, “He has just surrendered his second bedroom to an ever expanding wardrobe (and I’ve seen it, it’s pretty epic),” before going into more detail about how he started to write about fashion.

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Alex Fury grew up in the countryside of Manchester, the Pennines, and bought his first issue of Vogue in June 1996. Initially thinking that Vogue was as expensive as a designer dress, he thought that he couldn’t possibly ever afford it. He then went on to buy magazines every month and when the shows were on, used to buy newspapers everyday. “It was before the internet, because I’m old these days”, Fury said. His writing style is passionate, “I think that’s because I actually appreciate and notice distance in other peoples’ writing, and I could never be like that.”

 

Fury always liked clothes, and initially wanted to be a fashion designer. “Then I realized I didn’t want to be a fashion designer, I wanted to be John Galliano – and I was never going to be John Galliano, so I stopped trying to.” After dropping out of fashion design, he went to study at St Martins. “It was always there, I kind of knew that there wasn’t anything else I could do. I wasn’t conditioned to do anything else, unless I’d be incredibly unhappy.”

 

Fashion History and Theory was his course of choice, which was not specifically focused on journalism, but rather on curating. “It’s more academic. The first year is entirely focused on fashion history from 1300, through until today. At the end of it, you would do a thesis and then work with an institution. My year worked with Kensington Palace and curated an exhibition. So really, it was, I would say, less journalistic and more curatorial and historical. It was perfect for me because it reflects the way I write, and also the way that I think good fashion writers write, which is with the knowledge and the background of the subject—so you can actually back yourself up when saying something’s good or something’s shit!”

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Who are his favourite journalists? He has always loved what Cathy Horyn writes, but thinks she’s quite a cold fashion writer. “She writes very personally, but she’s not in love with fashion. It’s something I can appreciate and I really love her objective eye, it’s very interesting. It’s the same with the way that Vanessa Friedman writes; they’re similar.” He also admires Susannah Frankel and Suzy Menkes, who, on the contrary, write very passionately. “I think it’s interesting to contrast those types of fashion writing. We can then interpret the same shows differently, and I think it’s more to do with personal taste.”

 

Fury confessed his love for Vanity Fair, “I love that I pick up Vanity Fair and read the financial articles. I know way more about Sarah Palin and Bernie Madoff than I should really know. But that’s because they write in a fascinating way. It’s a bit like a very high-class version of Heat magazine. That’s why it’s so great, because it actually pulls you in.”

 

Bradley and Fury went on to talk about reviewing fashion week at SHOWStudio, seven years ago (a time when there were “no iPhones”). With the intense pressure of having to deliver, Fury says he’s learnt to ‘formulate an opinion quite quickly, and not to overthink something.’ He goes with his gut. “If I like it, I don’t listen to other people. I’ve done that before. I’ve hated something and listened to other people tell me they liked it, and then I’ve written something and looked back on it and went ‘that isn’t what I thought’. If I really didn’t like something and someone else thinks it’s good, that’s when you’re questioning yourself if you’re hating it for the sake of hating it. I can write about things that I hate much easier than writing about the things I love. It’s easy to be funny when you’re being nasty about something—” and Bradley interrupts, “—Refer to Fury’s Twitter for examples of this!”

One of the most important things for Alex Fury is honesty. “Ultimately, I want to look back at something and think ‘that is my honest opinion’, whether, in hindsight, I think it’s right or wrong. I do reconsider what I originally wrote about things. I remember not liking things and then buying the collections, because later on I grow to love them. But at least what I wrote was honest, you don’t really have the time to formulate something fake, it’s always easier to write something honest and then get onto the next thing.”

 

Fury churns out reviews like a fast train in rush hour. How did he get to that point of being so quick? “Newspaper deadlines mean I have to write faster than you write for online, because I have to file everything by about five o’clock for it to hit first edition. At SHOWstudio I could merrily write until three in the morning.”

 

He talks about being a chronological writer. He has to have ‘a start’; then he could write a piece in ten minutes. “In Milan, you try and start a piece before you’ve even seen Prada, and then you see Prada and you might have to rip it all apart and totally re-write it in half an hour for it to hit the newspaper.” Bradley asks whether he draws sketches in his notebooks. He doesn’t, it’s all words. “I know that Sarah Mower does. Sarah sketches, I only write. My handwriting is HIDEOUS.”

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His handwriting isn’t a thing that’s changed since being at the Independent – though his style might’ve altered slightly, as he’s aware that he edits the fashion section of a newspaper that’s also got a sports section (an audience he sometimes would try to appeal to). “By comparing a collection to Rene from “Ello Ello” or something, I try and open up the fashion world to other people. I’m very aware of that when I’m writing for a newspaper,” he says. “I can’t tell them everything, but I can at least spark an interest.”

 

“I tweeted that Dior all looked like Victoria Wood, which I’m standing by.” His Twitter writing style is like a notebook; he uses it in the way he would tend to talk to somebody – it’s a bit conversational. “Sometimes it’s a horrible thing, I absolutely hate most of the comments we get on the Independent, because it’s mostly from insane people that think Conchita Wurst – who is just a man in a dress! – is some kind of absolute abomination.”

 

Alex Fury’s favourite word is ‘no’. “There’s a purity and a directness to it. It’s succinct and precise, and I hear it a lot. I wish I could say it a lot more. I think it’s kind of the perfect word, you can’t misinterpret it as anything else. No means no.”

 

Alex Fury image by 1 Granary 

Girl with book –  Photography by Katy Grannan, courtesy of AnOther Magazine

Graffiti –  Photography by Viviane Sassen, courtesy of AnOther Magazine 

Follow their #WordWeek on anothermag.com

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