EFM Exclusive Story- ELLE Norway Fashion Director Petra Middelthon





Petra Middelthon is the Fashion Director of ELLE Norway. I met her through a friend, fashion stylist, Jeanette Hoff who is a stylist in Norway.

Petra Middelthon defines the meaning of passion, hard work, and dedication.   She has a great personality and when it comes to fashion we hit it right off!  Petra lives and breathes fashion and loved the concept of what I was doing.  She was very much delighted to give me the opportunity to give me a glimpse of what it is like inside her world at ELLE Norway.

“I started in 1990 and when I was 18 years old I moved to Paris.   I didn’t know what a stylist was.  For five years I worked as an au pair for photographer Max Vadukul and his wife fashion stylist Nicoletta Santoro, and that’s how I came to be introduced to the fashion world in Paris. After three years in Paris, Max and Nicoletta took me to New York.  While there I attended school at the Fashion Institute Technology (FIT).  After school I decided to go back to Paris.  I was assisting and working as a freelance, you know just trying to struggle to get in.  It’s all about the people you meet along the way.  And yes, I started to work for the Norwegian magazine based out of Paris.  It was called Tique.  I then worked as a freelance for the magazine from Paris.”

Petra shares with me how she became ELLE’s Fashion Director. “I’ve only been in this position for 3 years.  Petra goes into details.  “One day my boss called me up and asked me if I wanted to come to Norway to be the fashion director of Norwegian ELLE, we went through the process of the interview.   I had already been working as a freelance for Norwegian ELLE, Swedish ELLE, and French ELLE.  I knew very well the ELLE concept and I loved the fact of being part of a great fashion magazine like ELLE.  It was a  great opportunity, and the job itself is a wonderful job so we as a family decide to go back to Norway. You dream about this position and working for a good magazine that you respect.”

Petra tells me in details what her job title at ELLE Norway consist of.  “I am the fashion director, so that means that I am responsible for all the fashion and I decide the fashion stories.  This is like team work, but in the end it’s my decision to come up with the stories, the ideas to the fashion stories, and the budget for the stories, the  trend reports, the shopping pages and the fashion bible we have two times a year.  But then, of course, I’m working with stylists, and I’m working with the girl in the office called Tonje Norun, a young lady that helps.  Yes, that is my responsibility to have control over all the fashion.” 

Editor in Chief Signy Fardal, Fashion Director Petra Middelthon, Super Model Vendela Kirsebom, and Vibeke Ruud wrote the Fashion Bible, which is only sold in Norway right now.  It is now broken into four mini books.  Petra gave me the “Tilbehorets Makt” translate “Accessory Power”.   Fans of the Fashion Bible top designers Dominico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana said: “There are accessories that define the look”. Donatella Versace said: “With a quick change of handbag or a pair of shoes can change the speed of expression and mood”.  I must say that I love the book.  It, of course, was a great way for me to attempt to learn Norwegian, anything that has to do with fashion I am eager to read.  “There is another edition of it.  Now they’re doing it with a different cover.  The Fashion Bible is huge and thick.  So we are just going to minimize it. But what is cute about the book is that it is actually done in four stories.  There are four mini books; four chapters.  You can buy the whole book, which is heavy and expensive or you can buy the four small books.  One is talking about fashion basics “Basic Wardrobe”, second one; is about the parties “Party-Fix Holder”, third one; is about the accessories “Accessory Power”, and the last book is about fashion A-B-C’s “Fashion ABC”, which is a little bit about everything in fashion.  It goes into every little detail.  About Coco Chanel and the fashion shows.  We do talk about what goes on in the 1920’s and talk about the importance of the years, the designers and the houses in Paris. In one book you can buy and get to know a little bit about everything.  You will get a lot out of it!” 

There are often misconceptions on “Editor-in-Chief” hard to work with, hard to please or even hard to understand.  Petra told me how her relationship is with Signy Fardal. “Fantastic” she says.  “She is one who I can look up to.  Someone I am learning a lot from and someone who is ah. (She burst out in laughter, Signy walks in, Petra asks her, “how’s our relationship?”  Signy Fardal says, “very good.”

Being a fashion director comes with many responsibilities.  Everyday can be quite different.   There is always something new going on in Petra’s daily task at ELLE Norway.  “The only thing we really do is that we have this assignment that we do on Monday morning where we go through the week.  It’s so different everyday because you have appointments, you have shows, and you have photographers.  No daily routine, no weekly routine.  Every day is different.”

Interning for a known fashion magazine is hard to come by.  ELLE Norway doesn’t hire interns.  But, they do take freelancers, stylists and writers. “Absolutely right now it’s quite tough at the moment.  We do buy freelance stories, but we don’t take anyone here, just freelance.  We do take students but, you can’t really take in anyone and train them for a week because before they’re in they are out, so we haven’t really taken in anyone as of yet.”







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