• Fashion

Bronwyn Cosgrave: Former Features Editor of British Vogue Talks Fashion Success

Bronwyn Cosgrave has the kind of credits every Instagram fashionista wants. The former Features Editor of British Vogue curated Designing 007 – with the Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming. The two produced the largest James Bond Museum exhibition ever staged – which toured globally.


As Artistic Consultant for Marriott International’s Autograph Collection hotel group, Bronwyn created the Indie Film Project to partner with social commentator and film executive, Franklin Leonard’s The Black List.

A best-selling author and producer of feature length documentaries that focus on the life and work of designers and artists that shape fashion like Manolo Blahnik and Kevyn Aucoin, she was a fashion consultant on the Rebecca Miller film She Came to Me.

This year she appeared on the Golden Globe’s Panel at the American Pavilion in Cannes to discuss 80 years of Golden Globes red carpet fashion. goldenglobes.com caught up with her via zoom from New York.

You have impacted visual platforms from fashion to costume design to interior design. What informed your aesthetic?

My parents are Dubliners. European. Toronto which is where I’m from is fairly international. Style was always around me. It wasn’t the fashion system we live in today. People didn’t have a lot of clothes. Women would invest in one good dress every six months. As a consequence, I invest in things that are really well-made and have value. I look at clothing as an investment.

When I went to school, I had to wear a uniform. You had to have the right shoes your skirt had to be a certain length. It made me very conscious about clothing. I studied film in Canada. The French New Wave had a really big impact on me. The style. The clothing. I also watched the Oscars and Golden Globes growing up. Back then you would just see a flash of say, Lauren Bacall, going into the Dorothy Chandler or Beverly Hilton hotel.


Clothing always caught my eye on television. I watched Charlie’s Angels with Nolan Miller’s costumes. That was his heyday. He did all of the Aaron Spelling TV shows. I was really fortunate enough to interview him before he passed, for my book, Made for Each Other. He was called the Balenciaga of bugle beads. Equally Bob Mackie. I watched the Cher, and The Carol Burnett Show, so I was exposed to a lot of glamour. It made an impact.


Eventually, I went to journalism school in London, England. One of my first electives allowed me to write about my passion. I wrote a story about the designer, Bella Freud, who is the painter, Lucian Freud’s daughter. I interviewed her for one of my school papers. The feedback from my professor was this might make Women’s Wear Daily. But is that good enough? (Laughs)

Your background was in journalism and film?

I also studied history. Whenever I wrote anything, I was very interested in historical precedent.

Three pieces of advice?

I have always mentored young people. Probably once a week I get cold called, by young people. This is one of my three tips. It stems from my time working at British vogue where I was in charge of the interns as the feature editor.

Number one: don’t ignore the email. It might empower a student who is fearful of writing, but I met one of my great collaborators, because he cold called me after I produced the Manolo Blahnik documentary. He said, “I really want to produce a fashion documentary, and I said come and see me. I’ll talk to you about it. We’ve gone on to work on several projects together.

I find young people incredibly inspiring. They are the ones determining tomorrow. What does that look like from their perspective? Equally I’m a student of history. But I’m also a student of the future and contemporary culture. I want to know what young people are thinking about.

Two: Try to establish an identity that presents you with a skill set that is right for the moment and individual. What makes you inimitable as a person that does something that nobody else can? I partially paid my way through university by being a secretary and personal assistant in my summers. Your first job is not about you.

Three: If you’re assisting someone, and for a lot of people in this business, you have to come up through being assistant, think about what you can do to make your boss’s life easier. You’re working for that person. How can you organize their life, facilitate them to make that work. Do that and you’re going to learn. If you are assisting someone and would like to do their job in five years, how are you going to do it? Look at how they do it in a brilliant way. Look at their mistakes and don’t make them.

What have you learned that’s the driving force for you to succeed? What is your approach to getting what you want?

Some of my ideas I know are great ideas, but I aren’t moving forward. I have the courage to put them aside. It’s not right for now. Put it aside and come back to it. I’ve done that a number of times.

Listen. When I moved to the United States, it’s an entirely different professional field here. I was in my 40s and I had to learn how to work in a new way. It’s very challenging. I started to really listen to people around me. I realized I had to adapt what I’m doing for this market. It’s a different market. Listening to what people say. Applying it to how you work and do business. It is a really valuable tool to develop.

What is good taste?

It’s courage. I don’t believe in best or worst dressed lists. It’s what makes you happy. Having the courage to create. When I worked at Vogue and when I studied film, I learned to look at things. When I worked with Linda Hammond, I learned how to think in 3-D. She’s a designer and I have never done that. I learned how to look at a plan for a museum exhibition in a 3-D way rather than just thinking of words on a page.

Train your eye. That’s another tip. I went to art fairs all over Europe when I was working on Vogue, because I was also working on contemporary art. That’s a big thing about fashion. Fashion isn’t just about clothes. It’s a response to what’s going on in the world. And it can be the art world. It can be the street. It’s music. It’s everything. So, think about opening your eye, and going and looking at things. Take off your headphones so you can really absorb it.