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Hilary Alexander: Jill Wanless pays tribute to Hello! Fashion’s former Editor at Large

Our editor remembers what it was like to work with the legendary fashion journalist

Jill Wanless
Editor of HFM
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I had the honour of working with Hilary from 2014, when she became editor-at-large of Hello! Fashion when it launched, until a few years ago. She truly lived up to the title as she really was a force larger than life. Her enthusiasm for fashion and her knowledge was unrivalled, having one of the longest careers in the business. 

She came from that wonderful era where a glass of champagne for lunch (or breakfast) was a mandatory. She was a constant presence at London Fashion Week and many times I’d watch her scurry across a catwalk to grab a quote, or, in more recent times, a selfie with a celebrity on the front row. 

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Hilary Alexander was one of the most respected journalists in the industry

Far more than a prolific fashion journalist, in the later part of her career she took to television with gusto, and was best known as a judge on Britain’s Next Top Model, where she was an absolute natural in front of the camera. 

But what I remember most about Hilary is the passion she had for the next generation of fashion talent. Described as ‘The Life Force’ behind Graduate Fashion Week, as their honorary president, Hilary championed and worked tirelessly to promote young talent from across the UK.

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Jill Wanless editor of Hello! Fashion (far right) helped host Hilary Alexander's 70th birthday

Hilary passed away on her 77th birthday, having dedicated most of her life to the fashion industry. I remember Hello! Fashion threw her a 70th birthday party, in February 2016, at London’s Hospital Club. Among guests were designers Gareth Pugh, Fyodor Golan, Jeff Banks and Betty Jackson; as well as fashion journalist Iain R. Webb and model Paul Sculfor, Hilary’s Britain’s Next Top Model fellow judge. It was wonderful to hear her closest friends speak affectionately about the respect they had for her. 

The evening went with a bang, with Hilary regaling stories of her days shooting editorials around the world and we created a signature ‘The Hils Margarita’. She emailed me the following day to thank us for ‘such a splendid party’. Hilary was the party, the legend and a mentor to so many. She will be dearly missed.

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