John Humphrys was mocked by listeners and accused of ‘mansplaining’ fashion to the former editor of Vogue during an interview on Radio 4.
Alexandra Shulman, who has just stepped down from British Vogue after 25 years, was on Radio 4’s Today programme to discuss changing fashion in the last 60 years.
But she faced constant interruptions and even had to pull herself away from a conversation about Theresa May’s leather trousers, as the presenter insisted the Prime Minister had been ‘making a statement’ with them.
Listeners were quick to mock Mr Humphrys for his behaviour, accusing him of ‘mansplaining’ as the fashion discussion turned into an assessment of the catwalk and women’s bodies.
He insisted women now wanted to be ‘skinny as a rake’ despite her objections that the icons of today’s style include women like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian.
John Humphrys was speaking to the former Vogue editor after she stepped down from 25 years at the helm of the fashion magazine
Alexandra Shulman was supposed to be discussing 60 years of change in fashion but the conversation turned to women’s bodies and shape
Listeners bemoaned the interview on Twitter, saying it was a ‘shame’ the time with the fashion expert hadn’t been better used
As they opened the debate, he told her he thought she would say the idea of beauty had changed dramatically over the past few decades, with women now needing to be ‘skinny as a rake’.
She replied: ‘I don’t think that’s entirely true. If you look at the heroines of our time, the style icons like Rihanna, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian.
‘They are famous for their looks, skinny is not how people want to look.’
Listeners were quick to notice Mr Humphrys frequent interruptions, as he insisted that the shape of models on the cat walk was a big influence on young women, and that Vogue played into that with ‘skinny’ models on their front cover.
Former editor-in-chief of British Vogue Alexandra Shulman attempted not to be drawn on conversations about Theresa May’s trousers
Ms Shulman, 59, responded: ‘We have a mix of people on the fronts. Under my editorship, we have had quite a range, those people I mentioned, we’ve had the Duchess of Cambridge, Adele, we have a number of not particularly skinny women in the next few months.
‘They [young women] do want to be models, but I do not think the only criteria they are looking at is the person on the front cover of Vogue.’
Mr Humphrys, 74, was slammed on Twitter after using the phrase ‘reasonably cosy or comfortably shaped’ to describe women’s bodies.
He then asked Ms Shulman what she thought of Prime Minister May’s fashion sense, asking her if she had been ‘making a statement’ when she posed in the leather trousers for an interview earlier this year.
Ms Shulman said: ‘I don’t think she is having any influence.
‘I think Theresa May has far more to worry about than what she is telling young women.
‘I think she really is interested in clothes and quite rightly and hopefully by being one of the most high profile women in society she can be powerful and interested in fashion.
‘There is a view that if you are high profile and interested in fashion, you are a big lightweight.’
Several suggested he was out of his depth after the interview, with some referencing earlier debates this week as well
On Twitter, listeners were furious about the interview, and Mr Humphrys name was even trending in the UK, thanks to the number of tweets.
Veronica Kelsey asked: ‘Why do BBC R4 today bother getting an expert when John Humphrys apparently knows everything there is to know about fashion #mansplaining’.
Amy said: ‘Did John Humphrys just describe women’s body shape as ‘cosy and comfortable’? What shape is ‘powerful and strong’ I wonder?’
Emily Burt said: ‘John Humphrys on the Today Show mansplaining how teenage girls are influenced by fashion right now – so off base it hurts.’
Although Ms Shulman has not commented since the interview, she has retweeted several messages praising her handling of the debate, and one claiming Mr Humphrys had ‘zero idea’ of fashion today.
Among the tweets she shared was: ‘John Humphrys interviewing @AShulman2 on fashion is even worse than you could imagine. Offensive, ignorant, bizarre.’
She also retweeted: ‘Hugely disappointed that subject was hijacked by Mr Humphreys. Well done 4 not sounding exasperated & annoyed, listeners were!’
The BBC has been contacted for comment.