“Be daring, be different, be impractical,” the photographer, designer and diarist Cecil Beaton once said, articulating what could be the adage of the British fashion industry, legendary for its fearless irreverence and jaunty dismissal of convention. But, despite labels like Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen leading the way, the industry does not derive its boldness just from its brands. Operating behind-the-scenes, a network of stylists, photographers, journalists and set designers—some well-known, other not—innovate and experiment, relentlessly asserting another Beaton mantra: the “integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers”.
Every day during Fashion Week, we will present our pick of London’s liveliest influencers. First up: the stylists, who will be roving the shows, scouting the best looks to appear in the magazine spreads of 2017.
Style consultant to the stars, Elizabeth Saltzman started her career at Armani before moving onto Vogue and then Vanity Fair, where she remains a contributing editor. Presiding over an enviable roster of clients, it was Saltzman who dressed Gwyneth Paltrow in the ivory-caped Tom Ford gown she famously wore to the Academy Awards in 2012. What does Saltzman love about British fashion? “The unique drive of each designer in London to remain true to themselves,” she says. “As well as the fact that the designers really know how to let loose, have fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. No attitude, more gratitude.”
After graduating from London St Martins, Katie Grand, now-editor-chief at Love, didn’t waste any time. Along with friends Jefferson Hack and Rankin, she founded Dazed & Confused, moved to The Face, and then launched Pop. A stalwart of London’s 90s fashion scene, she embodies British style: insouciant, playfully irreverent, a little bit grungy. Today, she loves London as much as ever–she shops at Dover Street Market, often frequents Damien Hirst’s Newport Street gallery, and likes to eat at David Waddington’s restaurant, April, preferably alongside Giles Deacon, Gwendoline Christie, and her husband, Steve Mackey. Why does Grand love British designers above all else? “They never disappoint.”
Living in New York during the 90s, Bay Garnett developed a love for thrift stores so consuming that she turned it into a career. “I worked on a fanzine called Cheap Date, which was about second-hand clothes. I photographed Chloe Sevigny for the centrefold.” Now a stylist and contributing editor to Vogue, she recently launched another zine, Fanpages. She loves British fashion–it perfectly encapsulates her style. “British fashion has a a streak of independence. And coolness. It often has that irreverence, that original and punky spirit that makes London London!”—Isobel Thompson
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Credits: Michael Putland; David M. Benett; Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images