Celebrity stylists are, in my eyes, geniuses of the fashion world. I should really rephrase that – amazing celebrity stylists are geniuses. There are some, without sending this feature into a negative spin within the first couple of sentences, that should quite frankly stay at home and twiddle their thumbs.
But most of the stars that my Instagram likes are dedicated to have brilliant stylists. They spend hours, days even months prepping, sourcing, fitting and liaising to get the perfect outfit. And even though it might just be for a five minute red carpet appearance, it contributes massively to the ‘brand’ behind the celeb.
David Thomas is a genius. He’s dressed everyone from John Legend to Benedict Cumberbatch and from Britney Spears to Lionel Richie, but it’s Boy George that I’m interested in. I don’t know if you’ve seen any pictures of George on tour over the last couple of weeks, but his stage looks have been incredible, and just what you expect from the now 55-year-old icon: statement, standout, playful and full of energy. And if you liked what he looked like during The Voice, that’s down to David too.
But more than all this, David has has probably the best experience of any stylist I’ve spoken to. He’s had guidance and expert training from some of the biggest legends in the magazine/fashion/editorial world… think Isabella Blow! And, what’a more, he became one of the youngest fashion editor’s in the world at one point.
This is part one because after David mentioned who his mentors were growing up in the industry, I had to ask more questions. Part two will come next week, but for now, scroll down to read my interview with him…
On his first jobs: I was an unemployed plumber in Gloucester. I got a grant from the Prince’s Trust to start my own business and used the money to create a portfolio. Armed with this I moved to London and wrote over 100 letters seeking assistant work, supporting myself by washing up in a cafe and working as the toilet attendant at The Hippodrome Nightclub.
That was 1988 and I was 22. By the time I was 25 I was the youngest Fashion Editor in the world at the time at Esquire UK. I started out assisting the late Isabella Blow, the legendary Judy Blame and the brilliant Iain R Webb. My first job on my own was Lisa Stansfield (All Around The World video) in 1989 followed by Boy George, Kylie, Bananarama and others.
On the process of working with a new client: Well I research them: the way they look, the music, their audience. I really try to make them be the best version of themselves. I will meet them and try to get inside their head and then just get on with it. I don’t overthink what I do, I just follow my gut.
On working with Boy George: George and I go back along way, almost 30 years, so we know each other and it’s very much a collaboration. He doesn’t always say yes right away but he trusts me. He has plenty of ideas and I build on them.
The first video I styled for him was “After the love” in 1990, and many more in this period, so I’ve worked with him on and off since then. I’ve lived in LA for the last twelve years and George was immersed in the dance music world so there was a period when we didn’t work together.
A lot of what I’ve done with him over the last two years, since we’ve been working together again, references his past, as so much contemporary fashion does. What I try to create is classic Boy George, but very much now: fashion forward, clean and modern. He’s a fashion icon! Let’s not forget I ran away to London because I wanted to meet him.
On George’s Australian tour looks: The print was one I created a couple of years ago when I collaborated with artist Kid Zoom on a T shirt and sweatshirt line for ONETSHIRT. George loved the print and so we resurrected it. It’s used in different ways, as an all over print and on the hats and shoes, and sometimes as a trim.
The long jackets are a nod to the Edwardian dandies and the Teddy Boys of the 1950’s. The long shirts are inspired by shirts George wore in the ’80s.The hat is an oversized Trilby. It’s actually all very masculine, inspired by classic menswear, but hopefully weirdly modern.
On the difference between stage and screen styling: For most artists you take it up a level for stage. Brighter colors, fabric that reacts to light and generally more dramatic. For George it’s pretty much the same! That said, the clothes need to stand up to multiple use so it’s best to custom make and we have duplicates so they are rotated to ease wear and tear and in case of loss or damage.
On wardrobe staples: Well I never travel without a skinny black suit, Saint Laurent boots, white and black shirt and a great tux, blue jeans, black jeans and white sneakers.
On the one person he would like to style: I’ve always answered David Bowie when asked that question…