Style and Imagination

by Sophie Brown

Uninhibited imagination and a natural ability to tell a good story may not be the first requisites that come to mind when asked what makes a good fashion stylist but they are integral if you want to be a fashion stylist whose work will be be referenced in fashion circles and in the general culture conversation for years to come.  Every month, when Vogue is delivered and jams my front door and I have to push a little harder to get into my house, I get excited not so much about the clothes and accessories and shoes but more about the stories that are going to be told and the way these clothes are going to shoehorned into a new setting or adventure. I can remember so many amazing shoots Vogue have shot over the years, one in particular that I can envision right now took place in the graceful city of Damascus. The model Stella Tennant stood tall and alien like compared to the Syrian people in the Bazaars and on the street and the spread captured the spirit and charm of this land where very sadly war and tyranny now rules. It is a snapshot of time, where the clothes are in some ways irrelevant as the essence of the place and the expressions on people's faces is what grabs you by the collar.

My favorite coffee table book is STYLIST, a book which celebrates the work of a number of stylists handpicked by Anna Wintour. I would definitely recommend this book if you were interested in being an editor or styling as it so beautiful to look at and really inspiring.  These stylists are people whom create a world around the clothes they are given, who dig back into their memory and explore their instincts and natural inclinations to breathe life into a campaign or shoot. 

One of my favourite people in the book is Andrea Lieberman, a long time collaborator with Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez. She takes inspiration from so many facets of life including art, cinema, world tradition and retro trends and fashion shoots. Many looks for Gwen Stefani's videos have been inspired by Mexican culture including the artist Frida Kahlo and the history of Mexican peasant dresses.  To look at a dress or a piece of costume and to see the influence that art and history has had on it's construction is what makes fashion interesting to me and is what gives it a resonance that strikes a chord within people. 

There is a Vogue shoot that is referenced in the book which is one of my all time favorites. It was styled by Grace Coddington and was based on Alice in Wonderland, featuring Natalia Vodianova in a series of blue dresses that had been commissioned especially for this project. All the pictures are based on scenes within the book and have a number of designers featured as other characters such as Tom Ford as the White Rabbit. The pictures are just magical and have a child like innocence which is so compelling.

The imagination and creativity and thought that went into this is what draws me to magazines such as Vogue and books like Stylist. They make clothes and dressing yourself and choosing how you want to look, an exciting and cerebral process.  Where you decide who you want to be and what adventure you want to make today in the threads you chose to wear.