Miranda Purves was appointed Editor of FLARE in
June 2012 and is responsible for evolving the editorial vision of the magazine
and leading the content team as it inspires Canadian fashion, beauty and style
A proud Canadian with an impressive 20-year international track record in the publishing industry, Purves spent 12 years honing her skills in New York. She was most recently with ELLE US where she was originally hired to establish a living section before being promoted several times, eventually to the position of lifestyle editor.
Purves previously spearheaded the launch of the stand-alone colour fashion newspaper US Fashion Daily and worked as a senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle. In Canada, she has worked for both Saturday Night and the National Post. Purves has also done freelance writing for the likes of the New York Times and the Paris Review.
Self portrait from my corporate bathroom series. Took a
photo of myself in the same mirror everyday of my first six months at Flare.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon?
I’ve always wanted to charm, surprise or move, and be
charmed and surprised or moved, by the intersection of words and images. And
I’ve always wanted to be, if not at the centre, at least on the periphery of
*the* conversation. The media is where that took me.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
As I wrote in an editor’s letter a few issues ago, I’d like
be furthering causes of environmental and social justice more than I am now.
Less grandly, I’d also like to have reached some work-life balance that would
allow me to work out more regularly. I used to be low level but consistent, but
these days I can’t seem to make the time. I’m terrified to hit my fifties
without more muscle mass. After 40 it’s all erosion. You’re so much better off
having more to erode.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be dogged and be rigorous, make sure your resume looks good,
fits on one page and is grammatically consistent. Don’t send unnecessary emails
to busy people, be useful to them and try to empathize rather than personalize.
Hone your craft however and whenever you can.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
Man, that’s too hard! I scour tons of print media, mostly
what you’d expect: The Grid and Toronto Life are both fantastic, Globe and
Mail, Toronto Star (their metro reporting kicks a**), New York Times and the
magazines (am awed by Deborah Needleman’s surgical redo of T even as I mourn
Sally Singer), New York, New Yorker, Paris Review, TLS, New York Review of Books when I find it, ELLE US (where I used to work; they have fantastic
features that don’t get nearly enough recognition, which I think is a weird
sexism) the British fashion mags, Worn, the recipes in Chatelaine, I’m enjoying
Vanity Fair after a long hiatus… I just like gorging. For several years New
York Magazine was definitively my favorite but this
is unfair – it’s so good that the so goodness gets old hat! Being at the
airport when the September Vogue has just dropped; it is embarrassing how happy
it makes me. Online: my brother’s smart, funny blog that intertwines his civic
and personal life in Montreal http://briquesduneige.blogspot.ca/.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
I don’t remember specifics because when an interview is bad
I blame myself and throw it into the vast ocean of self criticism that ebbs and
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
So much of it is personal! My sister-in-law hipped me to the
adage “Never apologize, never explain,” and I call
on that in times of trouble.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t work for capitalism, make capitalism work for you.
Love more, complain less (that’s not always in effect).
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
You can assume that if the story is one that makes sense for
that editor or that outlet, they will want it. All we need is the information.
We don’t need announcements on two-inch thick slabs of Lucite in heavy stock
boxes tied with ribbon. It creates more work for the mail
room and custodial staff and is bad for the environment. And if it’s from an advertiser’s PR, we have
to pay attention, so that goes double.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
Well, I was happy to get that righteous block of Parmesan
from Max Mara PR for Christmas. But aside from thoughtful edible gifts, it’s
satisfying when a story is personal and mutually beneficial. For the April
Flare (out now) we worked with Ann Watson, Club Monaco’s PR VP, on a well story
in which Peter Ash Lee shot the BC-born model Mackenzie Hamilton in Club M
mixed with other designers at the design director Caroline Belhumeur’s lovely
Victorian house, followed by a profile-ette of her. The catalyst was my own
curiosity. I was impressed by their recent
ad campaigns and their clothes, so I investigated her and wanted to do
something that expressed something about what she was expressing in the
clothes. That led to her house.
As a fashion magazine we’re pretty focused on
designers, but chains are what most of us can afford, and I like the way they
are starting to steer away from creating a faceless brand (Jenna Lyons!). The
shoot took a lot of trust (it was her house) as well as coordinating and
persistence because everyone involved had busy schedules, but Ann wasn’t scared
off by that. She knew the reality of making something special happen. It felt
warm and organic and I think that reads in the story, which is about both of
our stories, in a nice way.
Man’s inhumanity to man and unnaturalness to nature. People
who gut houses of original detail and stick potlights everywhere. Egotism, bad
taste and a lack of imagination: horrible combination.
Watching my eldest son’s gesticulations that began when he
first started talking, persist. I want those hand gestures to never go away.
Professionally: my colleagues who bring real thought and care to their work. It
makes the days good.
The second installment of Susan Sontag’s journal entries and
the latest Diana Vreeland bio.
Best place on earth?
Please! That answer can only be metaphorical and
metaphysical! But right now I’m enjoying
bourgeoisie pleasure zones, such as the king size bed in our rental house when
my husband and two sons and I are all on it together snuggling, just before my
husband gets too grouchy and needs coffee, my two year old bangs his head
jumping, and my seven year old will not cease talking like a Pikachu (whose
language consists of pica over and over.)
There’s a long list: George Tiller, the abortion provider
murdered in Witchita, Kansas; Barbara Lee, the only person in the US congress
to vote against the Iraq war in 2002, Paul Watson, whale savior,
unionists, suffragettes, abolitionists, environmentalists,
all the people, now and throughout history, who conduct themselves with
inimitable bravery and tireless focus, for what they (and I) believe is right
and incrementally, maybe, help society evolve.
My friends are dauntingly adept conversationalists, I’m not
sure a famous figure could compete.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I debated putting apps on my hate list.
Pool or ocean?
Voicemail or email?
Email, except for maybe five specific voices for which I
would stop the earth at any moment to listen to over several repeats.