Hamish Bowles is known for many things related to fashion. He is an editor for Vogue with a voice that’s smart, entertaining and conversational at the same time. His personal style is eccentric, reflecting the dandies of another era. He fills his free time curating museum exhibits, making appearances in fashion documentaries and appearing as a couturier in Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.
Hamish Bowles was born in London in 1963. His father, David Victor Bowles, was the Vice Provost of University College, London and his mother, Anne Bowles, was a photographer and world traveler. Bowles started to show an interest in fashion history from a very young age. In 1967, at just four years old, he ran up to editor of the Costume Society Journal and family friend Dr. Ann Saunders and screamed, “’Is this the right way to wear a fontange or should it be further back?’” as he held a piece of tulle on his head. Dr. Saunders then gave him a paper doll from the Victoria and Albert Museum to color.
From then on Bowles scoured junk stores and rummage sales looking for special curiosities. His first couture purchase, an early-60s Balenciaga suit, was found at a rummage sale in 1976. A year later, he entered a British Vogue contest, for which he won a special mention. He cited Cecil Beaton as the person that had most influenced him.
In 1981 Bowles entered Saint Martins School of Art and Design to study fashion. While in school he worked on the Teenage Issue of Harpers & Queen, for which he was made a guest fashion editor. He would go on to work as a junior fashion editor at the magazine in 1984, leaving college behind.
He was promoted in 1985 to fashion editor and then fashion director in 1986 – the youngest fashion director ever at Harpers & Queen. That year, he also met Anna Wintour for the first time. In 1992 he accepted a position as style editor at Vogue. In 1995 he was promoted to European editor-at-large.
Bowles’s responsibilities at Vogue are numerous and significant. He writes profile stories, reports on contemporary fashion and culture and covers fashion history. He has also written fashion history books, including Balenciaga and Spain and Yves Saint Laurent Style, as well as written special introductions in fashion and style books. He writes about his adventures under Hamishsphere on Vogue.com. He has lectured on numerous fashion subjects and designers around the US. His diverse resume begs the question: What venture will he embark on next?
1. Portrait of Hamish Bowles by Arthur Elgort, February 2011
2. Garments from Hamish Bowle’s couture collection. Interview magazine, photographed by Robbie Fimmano.
3. Hamish Bowles photographed by Andi Hatch at the Spain Gala in San Francisco in 2011. Photographed for “A Night of Balenciaga” on Vogue.com.
4. Hamish and Anna Wintour, photographed by Bryan Boy, published on Bryanboy.com. Taken in October 2011 at the Chanel Spring/Summer 2012 runway show.
5. Hamish at his 50th birthday party. Photographed by Joshua Bright for Vogue.com in June 2013.
– Tanisha Wallis
Image Layout: Laura Burkhardt