My Media Week: Alex Bilmes, Esquire

Alex Bilmes, editor-in-chief, Esquire, hosts the title's star-studded kick-off party for London Fashion Week Men's and finishes his editorial tribute to long-term contributor AA Gill.

Alex Bilmes: editor-in-chief, Esquire
Alex Bilmes: editor-in-chief, Esquire

Tuesday

My alarm goes off at 6.30am. Christmas brought a new addition to the family and she needs walking.

"She" is a ten-month-old Labrador puppy inherited from my parents, who found her to be somewhat more boisterous than two people in their seventies can reasonably cope with. The kids (Penelope, 7, Oscar, 4) have renamed her Popcorn. I’m not sure this name-change has helped with the training.

At 8.15am I’m at my desk for the first time in 2017. First order of business is to finish a piece for the next issue of Esquire. It’s a tribute to AA Gill, a friend and mentor who died, at only 62, in December.

The March issue will be the first in the six years I’ve been editor not to feature a column by Adrian and it seems right to pay my respects in print. I’ve been tinkering with this piece, off and on, over the break, and I spend the first part of the morning unsuccessfully trying to hack it back.

I have a first powwow of 2017 with Rachel Fellows, who combines her duties as Esquire’s assistant commissioning editor with being my PA. She arrives holding a lanyard, from which dangles my pass to London Fashion Week Men’s, which begins on Friday.

At 2pm I meet our fashion team to go over plans for the coming weeks of shows here, in Milan and Paris. Then I meet Tom Macklin, entertainment director extraordinaire, to talk through the details of a drinks party I’m co-hosting on Friday evening at Fortnum & Mason with Ewan Venters, that famous store’s debonair and dynamic CEO.

I make it home in time to read bedtime stories, then stay up late on the sofa with my laptop, and finally finish my tribute to Adrian, while exchanging emails with Tom, who is dealing with a Hollywood publicist over our April cover shoot, which, all being well, will take place in LA on Monday.

Wednesday

Each Wednesday at 8am I see my personal trainer at a secret location, which I will never reveal for the simple reason that no one who knows me should have to watch me squat.

At 10am we have our first proper production meeting of the year. I then sit with Nick Millington, our creative director, to thrash out the March cover.

While I’m at it I kill a feature that has been bugging me and replace it with something better. I do love all the ambassadorial stuff – the lunches, the travel, the carousing but this is my favourite part of the job – the nuts and bolts of putting a magazine together.

Tentatively, I give my Adrian piece to Miranda Collinge, Esquire’s features supremo. She gives it the thumbs up – she doesn’t always, believe me – and I’m relieved.

Now I have to write a piece for our biannual style and luxury magazine, the Big Black Book, another thing I should have done over Christmas but didn’t. I blame the dog. I blame the dog for everything.

This will be my last night in for a while so I head home to pretend to be Darth Vader to Oscar’s Kylo Ren. I’m a natural.

Thursday

First, I meet Jacqui Cave, Esquire’s publishing director, to discuss plans for the 2017 Esquire Townhouse. This was one of our big hits of last year. Sponsored by Dior, consisting of four days of talks, interviews, screenings, performances, drinks, dinners and debates in a grand London mansion. We’re determined to do it again, and even better.

I then have a catch-up with Sam Parker, our digital editor, and he brings good news. December was a record month, with close to a million page views. The website is growing fast.

The biggest hit was our Tom Hardy cover story from the January/February issue. Some 70,000 people saw the interview online, and the all-important average dwell time was 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, there’s a fashion shoot going on today and throughout the afternoon I receive photos of the work in progress from the studio.

At 7pm I’m upstairs at Quo Vadis, on Dean Street, for the opening party of London’s Men’s Fashion Week, hosted by Dame Vivienne Westwood. I have a quick catch-up with a few friendly competitors and I’m home by 8.30pm to relieve the nanny.

Friday

Alarm. Dog. Kids. Eggs. Coffee. Train. Tube. Phone. Desk. Meetings.

At noon I yomp along a freezing Oxford Street to my first fashion show of the season  Topman, in a big warehouse-style space inside the old Selfridge’s Hotel.

It’s a riot of day-glo, acid house-inspired sportswear, the perfect antidote to the gloomy, grey London outside.

The afternoon goes by in a blur of preparation for tonight’s party. Lots of texts asking for plus-ones and various slightly panicked staff members worrying about the rain and the timings and whether anyone will show up. But of course they do.

The third floor at Fortnum’s hums with models and PRs and buyers and journalists and menswear mandarins, and there is a sprinkling of celebs to season the salad.

Among others I chat to David Furnish, just back from Aspen, Cerruti designer Jason Basmajian, just back from Rio, and Purple PR ledge Nancy Oakley, just back from Delhi. There is drinking and dancing but once again I’m unaccountably well behaved. It won’t last.

Saturday

An early run to shift the hangover. I take Oscar and Popcorn to breakfast in Shepherd’s Bush and then to the park, where they charge about and cover each other in mud.

At 2pm I’m in a suit again, taking an Uber into town for the Oliver Spencer show. He’s one of our very best independent British menswear designers, and as usual there’s not an item in the show that I wouldn’t like to own.

I pop into the office to pick up some work for tomorrow, head home to make super and collapse with a beer in front of the first episode of the BBC’s Taboo, starring Esquire’s own (well, sort of) Tom Hardy. Christmas already feels a long time ago.

The lowdown

Age: 43
Favourite media: Magazines
Biggest inspiration: My mortgage
Dream job: I already have it
One thing not a lot of people know... My middle name

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