The Wick - Harpers Bazaar, Lydia Slater, Credit Emma Hardy The Wick - Harpers Bazaar, Lydia Slater, Credit Emma Hardy
Monday Muse

Interview Lydia Slater, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar

Lydia Slater
28 November 2022
Lydia Slater
28 November 2022
Since being appointed as the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK in 2020, Lydia Slater has been the driving force behind its print, digital and experiential offering. Well-respected in the fashion and luxury industry, Slater was the natural choice for the role, having previously served as deputy editor at the same title. She’s also been credited with expanding the Bazaar At Work programme and launching its annual summit, a day-long conference that brings together inspiring female leaders and professional women from all walks of life for a series of empowering talks, panel discussions, workshops and networking opportunities. This year’s event, which was held at the Kimpton Fitzroy London last Monday, focused on ‘Lessons in leadership’ and invited actress Lesley Manville and the athlete Dina Asher-Smith to reflect on the secrets behind their success.

Slater also sits on the advisory council of Walpole, the official sector body for UK luxury, leading the Women in Luxury programme, which aims to achieve gender parity in the C-suite by 2025. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and has previously edited The Week’s Fashion magazine and the Sunday Times Style magazine, and written regularly for ES Magazine, The Times and Daily Telegraph.

THE WICK:   Tell us about a typical Monday.

Lydia Slater:   I’m lucky to be able to work from home on Mondays, which means the start of the week is fairly calm. I have a quick 11am meeting with the heads of the creative, picture, fashion, beauty, digital and features teams to make sure everything is progressing smoothly, and in the afternoon, we hold a full production meeting with everybody on a Teams call to run through the whole of the upcoming issue. Normally, I end the day with a weights class, but I’m still recovering from a knee operation, and not up to much more than hobbling slowly around the block with the dog. I try not to go out on Monday nights, but at this time of year, that’s almost impossible.

TW:   Who is your ultimate Monday Muse?

LS:   The Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis appeared on one of a suite of covers for the December/January issue of Harper’s Bazaar and I sat next to her at our Women of the Year Awards dinner earlier this month. Her brilliant autobiography, Finding Me, lays bare her traumatic childhood and the extraordinary strength she had to find in order to reach her current position. In person, though, she turned out to be both gracious and absolutely hilarious; her stories had the whole table in stitches – yet, when she gave her acceptance speech, she moved the room to tears, and received a standing ovation. I was incredibly impressed by her.

TW:   What is the decision process when selecting the winners of the Women of the Year Awards?

LS:   In the end, it comes down to a gut feeling – who are the women who have lit up our year? Personally, I was moved to tears by seeing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe finally liberated and reunited with her family, so I wanted to have her at the event with her husband and daughter. I also loved Sonia Boyce’s extraordinary winning exhibit at the Venice Biennale, so we honoured her body of work at the awards ceremony.

TW:   You are passionate about championing female leaders through the Bazaar At Work Summit. What changes would you like to see over the next decade to support women in the workplace?

LS:   It’s a rather depressing coincidence that the day of Bazaar At Work Summit, in mid-November, hovers around ‘equal pay day’, the date on which the gender pay gap effectively means women start working for free – according to The Fawcett Society, it was November 20 this year. Closing the gap would certainly be a start. I’d also like to see legislation to increase the number of women in senior board positions – for the third year running, only 47 women hold executive directorships in the FTSE 250. If you don’t have women in decision-making positions, they can’t have an impact on making the workplace more female-friendly.

“If you don’t have women in decision-making positions, they can’t have an impact on making the workplace more female-friendly.”

TW:   What one piece of wisdom would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

LS:   I like Eleanor Roosevelt’s dictum: ‘Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticised anyway’. And for me, staying curious is very important – it’s why I love my job, because I’m constantly learning about new people, places and cultural events.

TW:   As a celebrated journalist, what do you think makes a great storyteller?

LS:   Only connect! When we’re commissioning writers or photographers for the magazine, we always look for someone who has a deep connection to their subject and can translate that passion to the reader.

TW:   Digital has become the dominant method of consuming information, what role does the printed magazine play today?

LS:   For me, the printed magazine is the flagship of the luxury brand – it’s a beautiful object in itself, and everything inside is carefully curated and edited. Meanwhile the website can react to the stories of the day and reach a wider audience. I see the two as complementary, forming part of a seamless whole, along with our events programme – a beautiful cover shoot can come alive on our website with a film shot on set, but I’d always prefer to read a long-form interview in the magazine rather than online.

TW:   What is your favourite culturally curious spot in London?

LS:   I really love Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Every time I go there, I find something new that enchants me.

TW:   If you could own any artwork, what would it be?

LS:   I have a lot of Art Deco pieces at home, so any of Erté’s Harper’s Bazaar covers would find pride of place on my walls. More ambitiously, I would happily give over my house to a Yayoi Kusama installation – I already have my own version of Tracey Emin’s unmade bed…

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