News spread like lightning through publishing circles on Wednesday when it was revealed that Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Kirstie Clements had resigned after a decade-long reign at the magazine.

The announcement was made by chief executive of the Murdoch-owned NewsLifeMedia, Nicole Sheffield, and was soon followed by the news that Edwina McCann, editor of Harper’s Bazaar Australia for the last three years, will be talking over at Vogue.

Understandably, the news came as something of a shock to those in fashion circles, not least because the rivalry between Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue has always been fierce. Both titles have been historically influential as ‘women’s interests’ magazines ever since they launched in the USA at the turn of the 20th century. While Vogue’s standing as the world’s most influential fashion title has waned somewhat in recent years, in most markets it still leads the charge. Australia, however, is the only market where Bazaar has consistently achieved higher circulation figures than Vogue.

The editorial shake-up has left many wondering what it all means for the publications. For insiders, Vogue has scored major points with its consistent use of models on the cover, rather than celebrities, with the last non-model appearing on the cover in August 2011. On the other hand, Bazaar’s covers are generally borrowed from their US-based sister publication and mostly feature celebrities.

The defection of McCann, then, raises all kinds of questions. Whether Vogue will take on a similar feel to the successful one she has applied at Bazaar remains to be seen, but either way, the new editor has a bank of experience on her side, starting her career at Vogue and garnering over 20 years in the luxury fashion industry.

In her three years at Bazaar, McCann oversaw a significant overhaul of the magazine’s online presence, while Vogue’s online model has proved lacklustre – something that cannot have escaped her new boss’s attention. McCann’s role as editor-in-chief will include guiding the Vogue Australia brand across print and online platforms.

While the past couple of years has seen Vogue Australia shake off its reputation as one of the lesser Vogue titles, clearly this wasn’t enough to improve circulation figures or satisfy the higher-ups. It’s certainly a publication in need of some reinvigorating, especially in the digital sphere, so we’ll be watching with interest as to just where McCann takes the magazine.

vogue.com.au