The Londoner: Vogue bosses pile into Helena Christensen basque row

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A row between former Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman and her former Condé Nast employers has erupted after Shulman commented in her Sunday newspaper column on an outfit worn by Helena Christensen.

The fallout, which spilled on to social media, has brought to a head simmering animosity between Shulman and Condé Nast.

Shulman’s column covers the fashion world and is deliberately provocative. This week she questioned the age-appropriateness of a basque worn by the supermodel, who recently turned 50, calling it “tacky” and wondered if the outfit was picked in a “panic”: “But it’s more likely that she did it to show she’s not past it.”

The backlash was swift. Vogue editor Edward Enninful rushed to Christensen’s defence, telling her, “You are BEAUTIFUL inside and out.” Vanessa Kingori, the magazine’s publishing director, added: “You look incredible.”

Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, the advertising executive married to Condé Nast’s chairman Jonathan Newhouse, had harsh words for Shulman. “How sad she has become so bitter and sunk to a low level,” she said.

Shulman left Vogue in August 2017 after 25 years. Vogue insiders say the outbreak of hostility reflects growing tensions between Shulman and the publishing group.

After her departure as editor, Jonathan Newhouse and Enninful oversaw a comprehensive overhaul at Vogue, removing many employees close to Shulman, including fashion director Lucinda Chambers.

Alexandra Shulman (Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Alexandra Shulman (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

One source says Shulman’s column is the talk of Vogue House every Monday, and called the Christensen incident “mortifying”.

While acknowledging some felt she had “got this wrong”, Shulman said piece was supposed to be “controversial”. “Helena is absolutely wonderful — one of the best,” she said, adding that she used the subject as “a jumping off point for a piece on women’s sexuality and dress, which I do feel is of interest”. Friends and former colleagues defended her stance. “Poor Alex,” said one. “It seems as if you can’t say anything these days.”

Edward Enninful (Dave Benett)
Edward Enninful (Dave Benett)

Losing Momentum

Jeremy Corbyn’s studied ambiguity on Brexit may be coming back to bite him as a Left-wing Labour split threatens his control of the party’s ruling body.

Previously united Left-wing forces within Labour may run a separate slate of candidates for the party’s agenda-setting National Executive Committee (NEC) elections this year. Momentum and the older organisation Campaign for Labour Party Democracy disagree over the party’s second referendum policy. But though its members are strongly anti Brexit, Momentum said this morning: “Nobody is going to lose their place on the slate because of Brexit.”

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“I have danced in a cage in Magaluf,” announced Change UK’s Heidi Allen in a Facebook Live discussion for More United. Not to be outdone, Labour’s Stephen Kinnock, replied, “In the Eighties, I was a body popper. Electric boogie, doing some of that caterpillar business. I can turn my hand to it occasionally. But definitely not when I’m stone-cold sober at half-past seven sitting in Parliament.”

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Buckingham Palace is looking for a sous chef. The full-time role, which includes 33 days’ holiday and live-in digs, requires “strong leadership” and fluency in “classical French cuisine”. Rule Britannia?

Olivia takes break from royal duties to attend Eve Appeal

Jessica Ordonez Barnett and Olivia Colman (Photo Dave Benett/Getty Images) (Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Jessica Ordonez Barnett and Olivia Colman (Photo Dave Benett/Getty Images) (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Bonhams on New Bond Street was the venue for last night’s Eve Appeal, which funds research into gynaecological cancer.

Resisting the endless flow of champagne on offer was Oscar-winner Olivia Colman, who stuck to water while she caught up with comedian Jo Brand.

Colman, who won her first Academy Award in February for her portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite, is currently filming the new series of The Crown, in which she plays Queen Elizabeth II.

She revealed at the time she thought her win was “hilarious”, before adding: “Any little girl who’s practising their speech on the telly — you never know! I used to work as a cleaner.”

Columnist Deborah James, jazz singer Natalie Rushdie and Jessica Ordonez Barnett were among the other guests treated to a private viewing of some of Andy Warhol’s greatest artwork at the event.

Doctor Who star Jemma Redgrave, of the acting dynasty, was also in attendance.

SW1A

An ominous moment for Labour fans of a second referendum. When Keir Starmer was doorstepped by Beth Rigby on Sky News yesterday, he was asked if he wanted a confirmatory ballot. But Seumas Milne (below), Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy director, popped up behind the shadow Brexit secretary. “That’s it, thank you,” Milne said to Rigby. A Sky source tells us: “He definitely did not want Keir to talk.”

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Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP confirms Amanda Bishop, a Labour member and local elections candidate, has been suspended from the party for making the bizarre call for a march on a Hove synagogue to protest against accusations of anti-Semitism in the party. Russell-Moyle, MP for Kemptown, called her comments “revolting”, adding: “Tonight, after I first read the comments today and reported them, she has been suspended. This is anti-Semitism and not acceptable.”

Quote of the day

"We are going to have to eat less meat." Ed Miliband tells the Today programme that climate change has given him another reason to avoid bacon sandwiches

How the aspiring Leith cut her teeth

Prue Leith may be a household name as a chef, author and TV star, but success was hard won.

As a student at the Cordon Bleu school, she was hired to cook at dinner parties.

Her first effort involved her and a fellow student, both in their early twenties, travelling up to a smart Highgate address. “I was so nervous,” she tells James O’Brien’s podcast.

“We had two days: an evening to prepare, the next evening to cook it. We were paid two pounds each and we spent it all on a taxi home because we were so exhausted.”

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Theresa May joined colleagues at the Goring Hotel last night. The Londoner wonders if the PM’s decision to step down shortly has contributed to her colleagues’ sudden desire to paw Amber Rudd.

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