British Vogue art director Jaime Perlman has steadily ascended the editorial ladder since starting as an assistant at American Harper's Bazaar over a decade ago. The tri-state native also worked at Vogue in New York before moving to the British version in 2005. But here's where she went off-script: While many of her cohorts in the print world were struggling to compete with the Internet, Perlman decided to embrace it, founding a website called TEST, which functioned as a launchpad for photographers, directors, and other creative people to experiment with new ideas. Her pet project wound up being instrumental in her British Vogue career, when she was given a major role in the magazine's new digital push. In addition to overseeing the publication's upcoming web projects, Perlman has also taken over the duties of former creative director Robin Derrick, who departed earlier this year (Perlman's title has remained the same). We chatted with her about her new promotion as well as her personal style, penchant for black layers, and love of "witchy black shoes."
What made you start TEST?
I kept meeting photographers who I thought were really talented and inspiring, but I didn’t really have a place to commission them at Vogue. I was interested in working with the newer talent that I was meeting all the time, whether they were stylists or photographers or directors, in a place where they were free to do what they wanted. Another reason was that there was a real push in the industry for photographers to learn moving image, and all these photographers were being expected to do video on the back of their shoots, but none of them really knew how to do it. And they were looking for a place to experiment with it. So I thought that this would be good opportunity for me to do something online, which was interesting because I’d never done that before, and for them to experiment doing film and moving image, which is something that I’ve always been interested in. I studied a bit of video in college, so I've always thought it was fun.
A lot of people feel that there’s something sacred about the tactile aspect of print. Do you think that the division between print and online media could someday disappear?
I just think it’s a different way of people digesting information.There’s obviously things about the digital format that you can’t get from a printed magazine, like moving images. In print magazines you’re restricted to a page, but on the Internet, the content that you’re pushing can be as big or little as you want it to be. But at the same time, print magazines are beautiful to look at, and archival, and textural, and it’s really sexy to touch a magazine. So I think the two formats will co-exist for quite some time.
Do you pay attention to the business side of it at all, like advertisers and traffic numbers, or are you purely interested in the creative aspect of it?
It’s been more of an experiment. I’ve been thinking of different sorts of ways that I can monetize the site, or turn it into a creative content production company. There’s been all these things that have crossed my mind. But at the moment, it just exists as an experiment and something that’s been useful for me, at a time and a place. And now that I’ve been promoted at Vogue, I’ll probably be devoting less time to it.
What are some of your new projects, now that you’ve taken over more duties at the magazine?
There’s been a lot of changes going on, and we’re going to really refresh the magazine. We are going more digital, and I’m going to be overseeing more of that. So in that sense, TEST was a really good stepping stone and preparation for the new duties I’m taking on.
How has moving to the U.K. affected your personal style?
British designers are certainly kind of out there in their aesthetic, which has rubbed off on me a bit. Last year, I dyed my hair a kind of pink wash, which was definitely, um, an experiment.
What’s something you never leave home without?
I’m almost always in black, and people make fun of me for having witchy black shoes on. So I guess I wear witchy black shoes.
What’s a witchy black shoe?
It’s something with a heel, and oddly chunky or sort of pointy. Something that’s a little bit off.
Maybe it means your heels have magic powers.
Magical, yes. And a little bit scary.
Do you even wear heels on shoots?
Most people wear flats on shoots, but because I’m pretty short, I always wear a heel. Usually I wear something relatively comfortable. I have these Junya Watanabe clogs that I’m really into. I wear a lot of clogs because they have a lot of leverage and they’re pretty comfortable. I also got those Prada brogues from this season, that have a platform even though they’re technically flat. I’ve been wearing those a lot because they’re comfortable but they still give me some height. Well, they’re comfortable to stand around in, but they’re heavy. I wouldn’t go on a walk in them.
Are there any new trends that you’re particularly into right now?
Yeah. I’m really into the tomboy thing that’s been going on for a while. Like big blazers and things like that, menswear-inspired pieces. I’m in-between seasons right now. Summer’s over in England. It’s already freezing and raining.
Are there any trends you wish would go away?
I’m over minimalism, I have to say. It just doesn’t really suit me. I like the idea of it, but I just can’t be minimal. I just look boring.
So you wear a lot of black but you dislike minimalism?
Yeah. Black is just easy, but the minimal thing that I don’t like is simple cuts and no accessories. And I prefer tailored things and lots of layering and accessories. I always wear quite a few gold rings. I’ve got a few Maria Francesca Pepe pointy gold rings that I wear a lot, and I have a vintage gold horse ring that I wear all the time. People always ask me about it, but it’s just old. I recently got a pair of glasses, which I never had before. They’re just for distance, but they’re round, vintage, tortoiseshell glasses. They make me look a little bit like Andy Warhol, but I really like them.
What stores and brands in New York do you miss?
You can find most of the brands here, but there are a few stores that I do always go to. Like Opening Ceremony ‚ I just love the atmosphere of the store, and the people and everything. I miss Gabay’s Discount on 13th Street and First Avenue. In London, I do a lot of vintage shopping.
Is there a staple that you think is worth investing in?
I think every women should invest in a really good bag, for sure. I have this Givenchy bag that’s like, my favorite thing that I own. I got it this season and I basically carry it everywhere, even though it’s way too big for me.