CLEMENTS GOES TONGUE IN CHIC ON HR
2 October 2015, Written by Laura Daquino
FORMER Vogue editor Kirstie Clements has learnt a thing or two about hiring and firing.
After being 'very publicly' fired from her job in May 2012 by the 'very new' managing director and CEO at the time, Clements stepped out of Vogue Australia for the last time after 27 years.
She had been editor in chief for 13 of these years.
"I thought I was just reaching the peak of my powers to be honest," said Clements, speaking at a Business Chicks event at Cloudland last night.
"I was asked to leave the building immediately, which is absolute nonsense. It's incredibly disrespectful and stupid. I wasn't allowed to say goodbye to my staff, many had been working for me for 13 years.
"I didn't bother to take any calls that day unless it was a close friend."
Her story is known to many. Clements is the woman who famously declared 'the models were eating tissues' in her first book, The Vogue Factor, in 2013.
She also gained notoriety in the media in the weeks following her dismissal from Vogue.
"Being in fashion land, there's a certain element of misogyny that goes along with it," says Clements.
"They find it funny that you're pushed off your 'perfumed pedestal' with 'nails dripping blood red'.
"I think I copped a lot that a man wouldn't."
Perhaps the ordeal, and the aftermath, taught Clements more about HR than her almost three decade stretch at Vogue by putting matters into perspective.
"Regardless of the calibre of the brand, I have learnt nothing matters unless the people are pushing it in the right direction - the right bums in the right seats," says Clements.
"Certainly a brand as scrutinised as Vogue, you have to be walking the talk."
Clements is also quick to detect a red flag in the creative industries, the forced integration of two different concepts.
Creativity and management don't mix well in Clements' books, likely due to the fact creativity can't all too well - and shouldn't be - managed.
"Increasingly over the years there was more and more change, we were licensed three times, went through eight different managing directors - everyone knows how tiresome that is," she says.
"You have to prove yourself again and again to someone who has come in to do research on what Vogue is and its place in the industry.
"I remember a new managing director came on board and concluded women can't read a whole page of copy unless it includes a photo.
"I am all for research but the job is also to give people something they didn't know they wanted."
Any guess on Clements' employee of choice then.
"I love working with creatives most of all," she says.
"They aren't motivated by big salaries or bonuses, they are motivated by the work.
"Increasingly budgets were cut, cut, cut over the years but if you could champion someone's idea in the fashion or art department, it made the biggest difference.
"They are the most beautiful people to work with - the other way up though, increasing layers of management, are quite the opposite."
In life after the fire, Clements immediately scored a three-year book deal, of which was essential to keep momentum.
"When you're retrenched, you have to remember that everything you were giving away to an employer, you can use for yourself," she says.
"You have to remember your ideas are your IP and once you've made enough connections in your career, people will invest in them."