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Hilary Alexander, fashion editor and life-force of Graduate Fashion Week, dies

Lauretta Roberts
06 February 2023

Hilary Alexander, the former fashion director of The Daily Telegraph and the honorary president of the Graduate Fashion Foundation, has died at the age of 77.

One of the most high profile end prolific fashion writers in recent memory, Hilary, who received an OBE for her services to the industry, passed away peacefully in London on her 77th birthday yesterday.

Born in New Zealand in 1946, Hilary moved to the UK in 1982 and took up a position at The Daily Telegraph going on to become its fashion director. She stayed with the newspaper for 26 years and became one of the most respected and best-known newspaper fashion editors in the world, along with peers such as Suzy Menkes, formerly of the International Herald Tribune, and Cathy Horyn of the New York Times.

Hilary had a passion for fashion in all its forms and was particularly committed to showcasing new talent. She was twice named Journalist of the Year (1997 and 2003) at the then British Fashion Awards and in 2007, Hilary was honoured with the title Doctor of Design by Nottingham Trent University. Her OBE was awarded by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 2013.

Hilary Alexander

Hilary Alexander interviews Victoria Beckham

She had held the position of honorary president at the Graduate Fashion Foundation, which runs Graduate Fashion Week, since 2019. The event has grown from humble beginnings in 1991 and is now the largest showcase of BA fashion in the world. Hilary, described as the "life-force" behind the event, was instrumental in bringing high profile names to the event, such as British fashion legend Zandra Rhodes, American fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, as well as pop star turned fashion star Victoria Beckham.

When asked what inspired her most about graduate talent and the next generation she said: “It’s always exciting because you have no idea what graduates are going to come up with next. It’s a complete revelation because the way they approach design is so completely different to anything else you’ve seen before in terms of the fabrics, silhouettes, layering and accessorises.  The completely new and novel approach is what I find more intriguing and inspiring.”

Hilary Alexander with Diane von Furstenberg

Douglas MacLennan, Chairman of the Graduate Fashion Foundation said of her passing: “It was with great sadness that the Graduate Fashion Foundation Trustees and staff learnt of Hilary’s passing. From day one of the first Graduate Fashion Week event held in 1991 Hilary, first as a fashion journalist, then later as a Trustee and finally holding the title Honorary Lifetime President has been an integral associate to the event. Graduating fashion students enthralled her, their innovation and their imagination always brought her back. Right up until the end the graduates were foremost in her mind. While a fashion light has sadly now expired, the memory of Hilary’s enthusiasm will continue within the work of the charity and its Trustees."

Main image: Hilary Alexander and Zandra Rhodes. All images: Courtesy of the Graduate Fashion Foundation

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