The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992 by Tina Brown review – ‘the heart of the zeitgeist, people!’

These reflections by the celebrated editor aren’t really about a magazine but about her, and the name-dropping and hard-glamour sell are relentless

Almost 20 years ago I bought a book in a charity shop purely because of the author: it was Life As a Party, by Tina Brown, published in 1983. I was starting to consider journalism as a career and, of all the high-profile female journalists out there to see as a role model, Brown struck me as a pretty good option. Whereas the similarly impressive Anna Wintour, long-term editor-in-chief of American Vogue, made success look utterly joyless, Brown seemed to have such fun, whizzing back and forth across the Atlantic, dropping names like a chainsmoker discarding cigarette butts. Who wouldn’t want to hang out at Tina Brown’s party?

Except, it turned out, the operative word in “Life As a Party” was the second one: Brown’s world wasn’t an actual party, but a simulation of one. That book was her collected journalism from her time as the editor of Tatler, which she took over in 1979 when she was just 25. There, she wrote enthusiastically about people with names such as Baron Enrico di Portanova, and she championed their milieu gamely. I still have the book, even though it is almost entirely incomprehensible, because it taught me an important lesson: when you work in glossy magazines, there is no such thing as detachment, because you are selling your subject to the reader, even one as banal as the lifestyles of Tory toffs. Brown is, unquestionably, a thrillingly dynamic editor, but the primary reason she has been so successful is she is very good at selling.

Continue reading…

For more details, click on: The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992 by Tina Brown review – ‘the heart of the zeitgeist, people!’