Legendary fashion journalist Hilary Alexander dies on her 77th birthday

hilary alexander
Fashion journalist Hilary Alexander diesBryan Bedder - Getty Images

Legendary fashion journalist and former fashion director of The Daily Telegraph, Hilary Alexander, has died. She passed away on her 77th birthday last week.

Alexander moved to the UK from New Zealand in 1982, first writing for the women's page in The Daily Telegraph and going on to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. Over the years, the editor was twice awarded Journalist of the Year at the British Fashion Awards (in 1997 and 2003) and later received an OBE in the 2013 Birthday Honours list, for her services to fashion journalism.

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Bryan Bedder - Getty Images

Julia Robson, who worked closely with Alexander for more than 20 years, describes her as a "Fleet Street fashion legend and a total one-off", adding that she was "most famous for always getting the story first and working tirelessly on what she saw as the beautiful craft of fashion journalism".

"She always knew what was happening before anyone else," Robson recalls. "Whether that was the latest pop group or ‘it’ girl. People used to ask me why I stayed working with her, first as her fashion assistant and then as deputy, because she was incredibly demanding, but wherever she was you could guarantee fashion was happening around her. You’d look one way and there was John Galliano popping in for coffee. In Paris, Isabella Bow would join us for dinner. We’d go to a Versace party and end up dancing with Britney Spears in Donatella’s front room."

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Hilary Alexander and John Galliano in 1997 Dave Benett - Getty Images

Robson began working with Alexander when she was 21 and still studying fashion at London's Central St Martins. "All my friends used to want to hang out with her," Robson tells Bazaar. "She loved being with young people, but actually loved all ages equally. She was ahead of her time."

She continues: "She was into inclusivity and diversity in fashion long before anyone else caught up. She never saw the colour of skin, or whatever class you were, as in fashion at the time there was a hierarchy and aristocracy that dominated the glossy magazines. She just cut through all of that and she was proud of her Kiwi roots and didn’t have time for pretentious people or care where someone was from. She had a wicked sense of humour and when she picked up on the scent of someone she felt had talent she’d go crazy to help them. She is responsible for launching the careers of so many.

"Even though she was tough, you knew the reason she was demanding was because of her professionalism. Ultimately, if you worked for her you were in the A team of fashion."

Our thoughts are with Hilary's friends and family.

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Patrick McMullan - Getty Images

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