Auckland fashion blogger Leonie Barlow was in Dunedin
last week to select designers to participate in the 2013 iD
Dunedin Fashion Show. Jude Hathaway caught up with the former
magazine editor on her visit.
Selecting designers to enter their work in the 2013 iD
Dunedin Fashion Show is just the job for Leonie Barlow, she
says. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Earlier this year Leonie Barlow made the decision to walk
away from the heady world of women's magazines to become a
fashion blogger based in her North Shore home.
Before her life-changing move she held one of the most
prestigious jobs within the New Zealand women's magazine
industry. As editor of the New Zealand Australian Women's
Weekly for the past four years the position was the
pinnacle of a 20-year career that also included editorship of
Fashion Quarterly, Cleo, SHE and New
This poised, elegant lady was well aware of the massive step
she was taking by departing from the familiar world of
magazines, the friends and the regular salary, to move into
the relatively new and unknown domain of blogging.
"But," she says, as her smiles broadens, "I'd reached a stage
where I'd be happy with baked beans on toast a couple of
nights a week if that's what it took to have quality time
with my family."
(She does maintain a connection with the print world as
fashion writer for KiaOra, Air New Zealand's in-flight
Already an enthusiastic advocate for social media, fascinated
by the power of its reach and, at a personal level, its
effectiveness in maintaining communication with friends and
family, Barlow made her move to the blogosphere. Her Style
Insider site (www.styleinsider.co.nz) was
In so doing this dynamic veteran of fashion and beauty
commentating is, in fact, continuing to do what she does best
- providing fashion inspiration by mining her rich knowledge
of the industry and its people.
"I've also had to get used to injecting my own personality
into the stories. As a journalist used to writing about other
people it's quite foreign."
The Barlow household is a male-dominated stronghold - with
the exception of a recently acquired female rescued cat named
River - comprising sons Guy (9), Jed (6) and her husband John
"who saves the world". He is a fireman of 21 years'
experience with the New Zealand Fire Service, with whom she
fell in love on sight more than a decade ago. They married
within 10 months of their meeting and have not looked back.
That meeting - a story in itself - reflects one of a series
of milestones that have marked Barlow's life in New Zealand
since her arrival in Auckland from Australia 18 years ago to
help a friend set up a business.
Armed with a communications degree, her first foray into
journalism here began as a general reporter on the community
newspaper, the East and Bays Courier.
Soon after, when a general reporter's position on Woman's
Day in Auckland became hers, the door opened on what
would become a career in women's magazines.
"I'd always loved magazines from the time I was a child
reading Dolly," she remarks.
After four years the yen to return home saw her transfer
seamlessly to the Sydney offices of Woman's Day. A
move to New Idea, Sydney, followed before her
appointment as New Idea's editor in Auckland.
"It was a great opportunity. I decided I'd give myself 18
months in Auckland then go back to Sydney," Barlow explains.
But she never did return to Sydney permanently. She instead
went back to the ACP magazine stable, editing Cleo,
SHE (which closed two years ago) and Fashion
Quarterly at a time of pooled resources and job
straddling. She was in her early 30s.
The situation did not last, Barlow going on to spend seven
years as editor of Fashion Quarterly until her move to
the Australian Women's Weekly.
Today, four months on from her former life among the
glossies, she is enjoying being home for Guy and Jed after
school and having the time for other simple pleasures, such
as preparing an evening meal for the three men in her life.
At the same time her new business ensures she attends a raft
of regular fashion and beauty events and maintains close
contact with the industry.
"I really believe that no matter where you are in your
career, establishing and maintaining relationships is so very
Along the way Barlow has met her fair share of celebrities
and high-flyers and one of her revealing comments came in her
reply to the question of who she has been inspired by.
"There have been a number.
"None are big names. But these are people who live
fascinating, full lives; they're among quiet achievers who
really make a difference."
• Leonie Barlow, who attended the iD Dunedin Fashion
Show in 2003 as Fashion Quarterly
editor, is hoping to return for the 2013 event. Check
out her blog at www.styleinsider.co.nz
where she posted a story about her visit to Dunedin last