Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Interview with freelance Journalist: Anna Purseglove

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Interview with: Anna Pursglove published by Olivia Todd.
Photographs by Olivia Todd.
Anna talks juggling her busy career with family life, fashion and plans for the future.
  Meet Anna Pursglove former Deputy Editor of Elle magazine and Freelance Journalist for Marie Claire, The Observer, Harper’s and Queens, The Sunday Times, Time Out, Net-A-Porter, Red and The Daily Mail to name a few. Not surprising with a name like that.
Before her successful career in fashion Anna embarked upon an unusual path when she moved to London to study medicine. Who saw that one coming? Certainly not me, but soon after she realised that it wasn’t medicine she wanted to do at all “I wanted to write all along rather than cut people up. So I dropped out of medical school and went to London College of Printing.” One of the very few Journalism courses around; which also happened to have a particularly strong link with the London newspaper “Evening Standard.”
“The top two students for every graduating year won the chance to go on a free internship at the newspaper, and I was one of them.” She started off by working on the features desk and with a medical background, A.P knew more about Health than your average, bog standard journalist, so decided to help write for the Health correspondent.  “Although I knew I didn’t want to be a Health Journalist.” Anna wanted to mix her work up a bit and so asked the Editor of Evening Standard whether there was anything else she could do. Who told her that ES fashion and lifestyle magazine needed help with something. “So I rocked up on the magazine and that was how I first got into fashion and lifestyle journalism.”  Eventually A.P became the staff features writer there and received her feature writing training on the job. “I then decided to broaden my horizons a bit and go freelance.” It was during this period that Anna began blogging for Elle. A very lucky period for the young journalist indeed, as the Fashion director for Elle suddenly left and she was instantly in line for the job.  “I then became Deputy Editor of Elle for a number of years and then had two kids so decided that an editing role wasn’t particularly flexible for that.” Being Editor is an “all-hands-on-deck” kind of job that not even Anna could combine with looking after the children. “The problem with being Deputy Editor is that it very much requires you to be present in the office a lot. Being fabulous and presenting the magazine to the outside world.”
However, still working for a number of magazines, Anna is adamant that it is possible to combine a busy work schedule with family life, one of the benefits of working freelance.  “It doesn’t always work, I mean you could be on the phone to America, whilst cooking fish and chips for the kids with the other hand, it is a struggling act, but by a large I know a lot of people do freelance journalism for that reason.” I’m in awe of her enthusiastic approach to life. If she was feeling under pressure at any point, you would never ever know.
Her one piece of advice to a budding fashion journalist, apart from don’t, is to write and read blogs. “I mean I know lots of editors now find writers via blogs. I mean everyone is a blogger or potentially a blogger, but people have come to our attention by fashion and lifestyle blogs. The internet opens up a whole kind of new avenue for you guys.”
Despite being one of the ways in which she earns her living,  Anna Pursglove isn’t totally barking about fashion and wouldn’t dream of calling herself a “fashionista.”“ I never really know what that word means.” I can hear the confused tone in her voice. “You see it a lot in fashion copy. But I mean do I walk around Covent Garden head-to-toe in Balenciaga...no I don’t. Am I interested in fashion...yes I suppose.” Pursglove believes you should never take yourself too seriously in fashion. Although she says “Equally it is a serious business and influences millions of people around Britain...I don’t watch the Burberry show and think Oh my word I’ve never seen something so stunning.”  But she admits; if I had asked her the same question 15 years ago, she would have given a different answer entirely.
“I used to do loads of celebrity interviews” Anna says. “... recently I interviewed Laura Bailey for the cover of Red Magazine. If there is a woman who fits the description “fashionista” it’s her.”  Interviewing is an aspect to journalism that Anna doesn’t do a lot of. In today’s net-speed economy and a mother of two, it’s not hard to see why. “That’s the trouble with celebrity interviews; you need to be willing to nip off to LA in a seconds notice.” But as the saying goes she’s “been there” and “done that”, so it’s nothing to get too upset about.
So she doesn’t see herself as a “fashionista” but I was sure that she must have a fashion icon. “It’s difficult” she says, followed by a pause. I wait to hear what she might say next and then she continues “you like fashion people for different reasons don’t you” and I find myself completely agreeing with her. “I remember we did a big exhibition at Elle with designers Viktor and Rolfe who were crazy into fashion and their shows were these big, spectacular, pushing the outer edges of what a show was about and so they were brilliant.” It would seem doing something that’s a little bit “Risqué” and out of the ordinary is right up Anna’s street “I like that whole bonkers side of fashion.” she says and who can blame her.
I’m given the impression that journalists have a shared philosophy in life and one that involves being a complete work fanatic. Anna shares this philosophy but says “I’ve always remembered there have been very few people on their death bed wishing they had been to work more. So, I suppose I try to temper the natural tendency that journalists have very obsessive ideas about things. Those are the thoughts I have regularly.”Although she says, “it’s not tattooed on my arm or anything”... without the hint of a sarcastic tone. Another favourite philosophy is “What would Oprah Winfrey do?” she says laughing “I’m thinking I might get that tattooed on my hand, that would be a mantra wouldn’t it.”  Having never actually met the talk show host but imagines she would be “quite a cool person to meet” and is greatly inspired by the “cunning, natural and savvy interviewer.”
She tells me how she is moving away from that “pure fashion thing” now, as it requires her to “travel to the other side of the world to shows.”But looking on the bright side after already having achieved so much, Anna unsurprisingly has no real plan set in stone for the future.
But she does however intend to do something quite spectacular; “I’m harbouring a secret, well not really that secret, to write a thriller at some point before I become old and senile.” An idea I find intriguing and a book that I would very much like to read one day, I must admit.

O x

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