Writer, Author and Mother – Nina-Sophia Miralles has a story to tell.
With an established writing career under her belt, Nina-Sophia Miralles took on the gargantuan task of writing her first book in just a year, while pregnant.
If you haven’t heard a mention of ‘Glossy: The Inside Story of Vogue’ you may well have been living under a rock. Award winning Writer and Editor Nina-Sophia Miralles is the first to document the rise of the iconic magazine through the stories of its legendary editors, and we can confirm that it’s addictive. Setting up the Londnr – a print and digital magazine focused on the art, culture and lifestyle that finds itself in London – back in 2015, Miralles has also enjoyed a writing career that has seen her work published in Harrods magazine and The Paris Review. Safe to say, she’s not one to fly under the radar.
It was at Hēdoïne’s soft launch party that founder, Alex, first fell for her. They’d met previously at an event run by Justine Picardie on ‘How Chanel Got Rid of Colour’ and immediately hit it off. Upon her arrival at the soft launch, straight from multiple business meetings, the photographer asked to take Miralles’ photo, to which she responded “Not sure, I look like Hilary Clinton today.” Alex loved her unfiltered humour and it’s something that dominates the interview, with constant eruptions of laughter. Nothing short of a multi-tasker, Nina-Sophia casually sits and talks to us with her 6-months old girl perched on her lap for the entirety, so as Glossy only recently hit the shelves, we’re keen to know how she does it.
Your book ‘Glossy: The Inside Story of Vogue’ is the first historical account of the iconic magazine, told through the lives of its legendary editors to be written. What inspired you to write it?
I was researching fashion a lot at the time and always loved fashion history, so I started looking up the editors. I’m a really nosy person which helps, because it means you keep asking questions and looking for things. I wondered who the early editors were and why we didn’t know much about them and once I found one of them it led me on to the next and so on. All of them were such amazing, colourful, whacky, inspiring visionaries. I just fell in love with them and felt like people needed to know about them. I never thought I’d write a non-fiction book but this was just something that I stumbled across and I thought someone’s got to do it. People think it’s because I loved Vogue but it wasn’t actually about that. I think the fact that I wasn’t obsessed with Vogue made it easier to write as I had a good level of distance.
All of [Vogue’s Editors] were such amazing, colourful, inspiring visionaries. I just fell in love with them, I felt like people should know about them.
Which Vogue editor’s story surprised or inspired you the most?
Obviously I love all of them – they are my passions. But I love Dorothy Todd who was the British Editor in the 1920’s. I love her for being really wild – I hear her parties were just brilliant. I also love her for seducing her secretary and basically every woman she came across with little bias. I also think she was brilliant in that she wanted to educate women. She talked about fashionable ways of thinking and fashion and thought, as well as fashion and dress. Women didn’t have much to read at the time apart from housekeeping magazines – the newspapers were aimed at the men – so she was intent on giving them a broader perspective and I think that’s so valuable.
I also love the French Editor, Colombe Pringle who put Nelson Mandella and the Dalai Lama on the cover of Vogue Paris, in the 90’s. She’s as crazy as she sounds – a fashion Editor who made an Apartheid issue of Vogue. She got fired for it but she’s really unapologetic about it – she basically laughed in my face when I asked her if she regretted it. She’s a really well-respected journalist in France and an Anchor on French television and fashion wasn´t her only interest. There’s just so much about her that inspired me, for example she went to visit the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala where he was living in exile when she was 7 months pregnant. I love her, she’s fab. I’m still holding out hope we’re going to be besties (laughs).
Another favourite was the British Editor in WW2, who said she had no interest in clothes. She said if couldn’t wear it on a bus it’s a waste of time. I think that´s pretty funny too, especially as she risked her life to keep publishing the magazine in wartime.
What was Conde Nast’s reaction when they heard you were writing Glossy?
I can’t say very much about their reaction, but we did have to do a lot of legal reading before writing the book as you can imagine.
The introduction starts with “Vogue magazine started, like so many great things do, in the spare room of someone’s house”. That is not necessarily what we wanted to hear, but it brings a different perspective to it – that someone started it at some point, and it probably wasn’t so glamorous and iconic. What was, from your perspective, the secret sauce that made it iconic?
Time! Time made it iconic. Because the longer something exists, the more of a reputation it can get, right? It’s how things stick in your mind. That idea of reputation and power is really helped by time, as well as the fact that it’s a fashion company so it’s very glamorous. Also, Vogue has been affiliated with some of the most well-renowned and talented people of the twentieth century. That star power lingers, which is a lesson to all of us to always align ourselves with the best of the best. Lastly, I think the fact that they’re not very open and we don’t know much about them has something to do with it. That always creates mystery, desire and curiosity.
The question above also prompts me to ask – you started and finished the book in a fast fashion (1 year), whilst being pregnant. How did you do that?
(Laughs) I probably wouldn’t do it again! People keep asking me this but I’m not really sure of the answer. I guess you just get on with it but at one point I was writing for 7 days a week, for 18 hours a day which was really aggressive – especially when you’re pregnant and not feeling very well. Now I think if I have a second child and I get maternity leave it will feel like a holiday (laughs) but I think it’s these things that keep me alive. I really learned my lesson and I now tell other people not to rush or let anyone else rush you. I knew I wanted to write books from the age of five, so I felt like I just needed to get on with it, but it was definitely a learning curve.
What advice would you give someone who is currently starting to write a book or struggling to finish it?
Knowing your limits and what you can ask for is valuable. Give yourself some time. Take long breaks – they really help with writing blocks and you can’t force writing. With that said, it’s hard if you’re working to a deadline as you can’t always take the breaks you need and maybe that’s not good for your health or your mind, but you just have to keep going to hit your deadline. When that hard work has paid off, it’s about reassessing. Life isn’t about having one continuous rule all the time, it’s about making sure you’re flexible enough to adapt as things change. There’s never one rule that applies apart from always being balanced if you can.
You also need to be so clear about why you’re writing a book if you want to be published. Writing is so competitive and it’s quite hard to get seen or noticed unless you have major connections and even then, it’s not a given. Also, you don’t earn a lot of money from it so you need to be really sure about what you’re writing and do some good planning. Follow the rules and get a good agent – contacting publishers directly or taking shortcuts never really works.
Know your limits and what you can ask for. Give yourself time and take long breaks to help with writing blocks – you just can’t force writing.
Assume we know nothing about the publishing industry and book writing. What is your guide to writing a book?
There’s a big difference between fiction and non-fiction. With fiction, you just need to write it and hope someone likes it. With non-fiction you write a proposal and what you really need are people in the industry to give you advice and help you, because that really works. What’s a real shame is that a lot of the books that you see being really successful now are those by people with big social media followings or those who know people in the industry. So, you need to be really determined. Again, knowing why you’re writing it will really help with that. With writing, you’re largely alone, therefore I think you need someone close to you to remind you why you’re doing it.
When it comes to struggling to finish, I think having a structure is valuable. It’s really useful to know how the story will end before you start, otherwise you’re kind of writing blind. I do not like planning, but the better plan you have, the more success you will have in producing something, even if it needs to be heavily edited later.
What do you think makes a great author?
Someone who can laugh at life. You need to have great observation skills – you need to notice things that other people don’t notice and point them out. Because we’ve heard everything before, so to be able to present it in a new way you need to be able to notice something that other people haven’t. Also, somebody who really lives life and reads a lot will have a really good, broad perspective.
What does authenticity mean to you?
A lack of vanity and narcissism! Everyone is so narcissistic now, always talking about themselves on social media and expecting people to be interested. It’s almost performing a version of yourself and now that we live online it’s a lot more visible. But I think it really clouds your judgement for who you should be and what you’re doing and it takes time away from that. Everybody’s always trying to present themselves and perfect themselves – you know the personal brand thing. I think ultimately vanity is bad for you as it makes you focus on yourself, you become an echo chamber in yourself. So it’s basically the opposite of that. Think about who you are alone in a dark room for example, and stop thinking about telling people that you were alone in a dark room (laughs).
How do you unwind?
I work hard and I play hard (laughs). Eat, drink and be merry!
What do you think makes you a real Hedoine?
I’m just really flattered you’ve asked me that question, I don’t know if I’ve earned it really. I guess my snazzy jackets have led me down this road with you. (laughs) I also really don’t care what people think nor am I interesting in conforming to what society expects as not all of it is good for you.
You can find Nina-Sophia Miralles’ work at the Londnr on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or head over to her website. While you’re here, share this article with someone who you think it might inspire or sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know when the next Real Hedoine lands on the blog.