Londoner's Diary: Fashion faux pas by Humphrys is not in vogue

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John Humphrys was on robust form this morning. His interview subject: Alexandra Shulman. The former Vogue editor was on the Today programme to discuss the rather inoffensive subject of the changing face of fashion, but it ended up being rather controversial. 

Infuriated listeners accused Humphrys of ill-informed questions and high-handedness.

“Sixty years ago the hourglass figure was desirable — now you’ve got to be as skinny as a rake,” Humphrys said. “Doesn’t Vogue do that as well?” Shulman pointed out that cover stars under her tenure included Adele and plus-size model Ashley Graham. 

“The other way in which fashion is cruel to women is shoes,” continued Humphrys. “You make women feel they have to wear very high heels and they must be excruciating!” He criticised Theresa May for “posing in leather trousers” and suggested that she had a “shoe fetish”.

“Anyone else cringeing at the daft attempts of John Humphrys to interview Alexandra Shulman about fashion?” one Twitter-user complained. Others called him “crashingly offensive”, “sexist” and “patronising”.

“Heavens, John! Very down on fashion this morning,” Shulman responded lightly. It’s not the first time the veteran journo has come under fire for his interviewing of women: earlier this year he was slammed for an abrasive encounter with tennis star Johanna Konta. 

“John Humphrys [is] trying to position himself as the champion of women while entirely dismissing the expertise of a woman in her field,” one pundit added. 

Today editor Sarah Sands said: “John asked Alex about the differences in the way we dress, aspirations in body shape and why thin became the ideal, shoe fetishes, the Prime Minister’s sartorial messaging and predictions for future fashion. Alex engaged with cool good humour. John met his match.” 

“The next leader of the Conservative Party, whenever that happens, is probably somebody who today is 60 to 1 against at the bookies,” William Hague said yesterday. You could narrow it down: The Londoner called our bookmaker to check who’s at those odds. Closest, all at 66-1, are Gavin Williamson, Rory Stewart, Steve Baker and Rishi Sunak. Place your bets now.

Libyan lessons from Boris and Herodotus

The BBC’s diplomatic editor, James Landale, recounts in this week’s Spectator magazine how he was with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on his trip to Libya last week. Something may have been lost in translation: Libya’s foreign minister looked confused when Johnson started quoting Herodotus, the Greek historian. “The Libyan foreign minister looks slightly alarmed, uncertain what is coming next. The Greek historian apparently claimed that the world could be divided into Europe, Asia and Libya. The Foreign Secretary admits this is not geographically accurate but it shows the historic importance of Libya. The Libyans take the point but look puzzled.” 

Quote of the Day

‘Kudos to Paul Burrell for milking his only big hit so well’

On the anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, singer James Blunt applauds her former butler’s ability to linger

Downsizing for some at Venice Film Festival

THE 74th annual Venice Film Festival opened last night with some stellar British talent on the jury panel. Actress Rebecca Hall and Baby Driver director Edgar Wright joined American star Annette Bening, French actress Anna Mouglalis, film critic David Stratton and Taiwanese film-maker Yonfan on the red carpet at Sala Grande for the opening-night premiere of Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig’s new film, Downsizing. The sci-fi comedy imagines what life would be like if people were shrunk to solve the issue of overpopulation. They missed a trick in not calling it Honey, I Shrunk Civilisation.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg isn’t exactly known for being down with the kids — even the six that make up his burgeoning brood — but now he’s taking the biscotti. Yesterday Rees-Mogg criticised Labour’s Brexit U-turn, saying that the party was targeting “cappuccino drinkers in metropolitan areas” instead of its usual support system. Come on, Jacob, nobody drinks cappuccinos any more: even flat whites are out. Wake up and smell the cortado.

Enninful suits City Hall

AHEAD of Alexandra Shulman’s tricky morning at Radio 4, her Vogue successor Edward Enninful paid a much more fun trip to City Hall yesterday, to visit Sadiq Khan. 

Enninful’s arrival at the fashion bible is expected to be quite the shake-up — he has already made some exciting hirings — but his meeting with the Mayor suggests he is maintaining his predecessor’s politics.

Shulman was one of Khan’s most stylish supporters in his race against Zac Goldsmith, telling friends that she was voting for him. He clearly has Enninful’s vote too. “With the iconic and inspiring Mayor of London,” he wrote on Instagram. “London is Open.” His endorsement will surely please writer Bonnie Greer, who recently enthused: “The real question of our time is ‘Open’. Or ‘Closed’.Edward Enninful is the epitome of ‘Open’, and British Vogue will be too.”

The next question. Will we be seeing Khan show off his sartorial prowess in the December issue? And will they be able to get him out of his sober uniform of blue suit and white shirt?

Block of the day: Twitter reminds us today that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg cannot be blocked on his own social media platform. Even if he gives you an unwarranted poke.

Flo and Blake have got the love

Actress Blake Lively may have turned 30 on Friday, but that didn’t mean a chum’s birthday passed her by. She made sure singer Florence Welch was seen in her photo. “August babies who lay together, stay together,” she wrote. It was two days after the singer’s actual 31st birthday, but better late than never.


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