The Chromologist was extraordinarily excited to have the chance to talk with Tiffanie Darke, editor of the UK’s best-selling premium fashion and beauty magazine Sunday Times Style. With a weekly readership of 1.6 million, Tiffanie heads up this staple of Sunday afternoon reading. Educated at Oxford before becoming an author and then editor, Tiffanie also now sits on the British Fashion Council Press Committee as well as supporting various charities including Dress For Success and War Child.
Meet The Editor: Tiffanie Darke
TC: You went to Corpus Christi College at Oxford University at the same time as Ed Milliband, did you ever bump into him?
TD: Yes, he was my JCR (ED – student union) President! I remember him standing on a podium addressing all the freshers on the first day, so nothing changes. I ran into him at a party recently and was reminded of what a nice and reasonable guy he was.
You’ve previously written two books, ‘Marrow’ and ‘Strapline’. Do you have any further novel writing plans?
I would absolutely love to write another book. It would be an epic novel interwoven with magic realism set in the present day with a working mother as its hero (basically a fantasy of my life)
Your Editor’s Letter in Sunday Times Style is always a lovely combination of stream-of-consciousness, mixed with your take on that week’s editorial. How long does it take to write and do you remember your first one?
It takes me a while to think about, but then I usually write it in a few hours the afternoon we go to press. How weird – I do not remember the first one!
The going up / going down barometer in STS can make or break those featured in it. How do you decide on that week’s zeitgeist? Do you ever feel sorry for those on the ‘going down’ list?!
No, going down is sometimes far cooler than going up! (Apart from the very bottom. You’re in pretty dire straits if you find yourself down there).
We all have a massive conflab about it and think up some funny jokes about stuff we’ve noticed – and that’s the barometer. It’s more organic than you might imagine…
Can you summarise your rise to the top? How would you suggest aspiring journalists progress from fixing meetings for interviewers, say, to holding the esteemed position of Editor of the UK’s best-selling premium fashion and beauty magazine?
That’s how I started – fixing interviews. These days you need to concentrate on ‘Brand Me’ and work on your social media profile, coming up with good ideas around digital. Always be full of ideas, energy and enthusiasm and be prepared to go further and work harder than expected. Be someone everyone can work with, and wants to be around and cultivate lots of niche interests for yourself
Fashion may seem abstract and, at times, absurd when seen on the catwalk. To what extent do you think that these trends can go on to influence the colours and forms seen in wider culture and specifically interiors? For example, colour blocking, organic vs industrial, traditional vs futurist etc…
I think they are hugely influential. Colours we have traditionally perceived as quite ugly and unworkable can be transformed by designers whose taste levels for the right shades and palettes can instantly make them seem hugely attractive. Celine did it with royal blue and orange, Stella McCartney with lemon yellow, Burberry with dirty pastels – right now I think Roksanda Ilincic is the one to watch. Her mastery of colour is exceptional. She’s doing royal blue, orange and yellow altogether next season.
Colour blocking is also definitely something fashion has led – and print blocking now too. Basically, if we become confident enough to include it in our wardrobe, it’s an easier sell to have it in our homes. Personally, I find it easier to be more experimental in my home than my wardrobe. I love Charlotte’s Locks for instance, which is a full on orange I have in my hall – but my complexion would never take that colour.
Which part of your job do you most enjoy?
Commissioning great features that get everybody talking. And gossiping with my team. Love a gossip.
And the biggest challenge?
Getting supermodels and super photographers in the same room at the same time. You wouldn’t believe it could be hard, but – trust me.
You work to (roughly?) a ten day lead time – what’s the latest you’ve ever included a last minute article because it was too important to miss?
We can change things right up to the last minute, and frequently do to try and keep things fresh. Sometimes the pictures go down to the wire, especially if they are coming from NY or LA which are obviously a different time zone from us.
How would you describe your fashion sense?
Coming together as the years roll on. I hope to nail it by the time I’m 60.
What’s your favourite colour/combo to wear?
I’ve got a really bright tomato/coral coat that always get comments when I wear it. I match it with navy and white
How about your home decor – bold or demure? Modern or traditional?
Definitely modern. I did everything on a grey pallette a few years ago which let’s you put some interesting colour accents in. But now I feel like moving on to navy. Navy walls feel like the new chic.
What the most interesting item/artifact/curios in your home?
I bought my husband a terrarium for Christmas which I really love. But I also love a piece of fine art photography we own by Sophy Rickett. It’s a nocturnal photograph of an elderflower tree in blossom, printed on aluminium and is really striking for its use of light and darkness. Plus I love trees.
Favourite dish to cook?
Ottolenghi’s (of course) freekah pilaf. It’s got lots of caramelised onions and fresh herbs in it and goes with everything, but particularly roast meat. It’s in his Plenty cookbook which I constantly refer to – I’m very excited because he’s publishing ‘Plenty More’ this autumn.
Favourite way to relax?
Walking. It’s meditative. Usually on Hampstead Heath but my favourite place is the north Cornish coastline.
Finally, there’s nothing quite like picking up the newspaper from the front step in the morning, or spreading out the Sunday supplements ready for an afternoon’s reading. That said, digital has had a profound effect on the publishing industry; how do you see things evolving over the next decade?
All platforms will be relevant – we’ll consume stuff on iPads, smartphones, watches (that’s coming) and print. TV never killed radio, and Kindles won’t kill books. I think we’ll use different devices and platforms for different things and what we as a media company need to work out is the best products for each of those platforms. The Sunday Times tablet app is award winning and does very well – but you can’t fillet it out amongst family and friends, like you can with a multi section print newspaper edition.