Originally a newspaper journalist in Australia "a million years ago", McIntosh moved to the UK and quickly became editor of Company magazine. I asked how she stood out to be taken on for this role: she heard the position was coming up, pestered and pestered for an interview, and made an amazing mock-up of the mag. Job in the bag. After that role, and 4 years spent at Elle, McIntosh was approached by Emap for ideas as they found themselves left without a women's glossy. "Why not a fashion weekly?" suggested McIntosh. Emap were delighted with this idea, having been eyeing Italy's Grazia magazine.
Fiona McIntosh in the Grazia days. Image from the Daily Mail
And so in February 2005, Grazia was born. I, along with many, many other fashion-obsessed females, have never looked back; I'm really not sure what I would do without my weekly Grazia fix. McIntosh established the Grazia tone and the distinctive design and layout. This love of bang-on copy is something McIntosh is known for within the industry.
Nowadays McIntosh is dabbling in the world of fashion retail, working recently with my-wardrobe.com with their recent successful re-branding. McIntosh took us through the steps.
1: New photography. McIntosh is as captivated as the rest of us with street style photography, which is reflected in the site. Apparently it's also "cheap to do"!
2: Change the tone. Concise, sophisticated yet friendly copy is key here, with all Americanisms banned.
3: Site redesign, using a very of-the-minute model across the site and promotional materials.
4: Use of style guides, enhancing the online experience with a print style guide.
5: Create media/retail hybrid, working with a junior team and layering on more experienced consultants when necessary - such as commissioning Polly Vernon to write a snappy piece for the site.
my-wardrobe.com screencap, 21st March 2012
Fiona McIntosh believes that the fashion monthlies are "big old monsters" (and she's right - when Vogue featured Fashion's Night Out two months later I skimmed over it. I had already been saturated with online information) with their lieu time being six weeks. Surely there was a way of presenting it faster - at a pace which matched fast fashion? McIntosh believes that the "mashing of media and retail is really interesting at the moment", and although it is difficult to judge the future of fashion media, the way forward may be to use print media to enhance the digital content, and monetising that content with the use of eTail.
I really appreciated Fiona's quiet-but-clear tone, and loved that she spoke in Grazia-isms - lots of "OMG" and "bang-on". Her final words of advice? "Stay on top of what's happening - who's doing what - are there any innovations you could use?"
Fiona stated that she, too, started out as an intern, and she is a fantastic example of how far you can get with talent and a whole load of hard work.