A couple of weeks ago I put up my interview with the amazing stylist, David Thomas (read it here). When he mentioned who his mentors in the industry were when he was growing up (the late, great Isabella Blow for starters!), I asked for more information, and what he gave was SO good it deserved a whole separate post.
So, here’s what he said…
“Issy (Isabella Blow) was a true eccentric! I was assisting her at British Vogue and on other projects at the time. She was truly creative but not so interested in detail so a lot of that fell to me. For one Vogue shoot we did we flew to Paris to work with Karl Lagerfeld. I remember her wearing a very large Philip Treacy hat, made from Union Jack tea towels and shaped liked enormous ram’s horns. She refused to remove it at security and had to go through the scanner sideways, setting it off in the process.
Karl is a night owl, so Issy slept on the sofa while he shot throughout the night. He had me model in the shoot and I wore a sequined Bernstock and Spears bowler hat, lilac Richard James jacket and my face was painted green.
She was incredibly generous with her time and her contacts. I spent many a weekend at Hilles House in Gloucestershire, a mere four miles from where I grew up, hanging out with her protegees Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen, Malcolm McClaren, and assorted aristocracy and European Royalty.
She delighted in calling me: “The plumber from Gloucester” right up until she sadly passed away.”
“Judy Blame, also wildly eccentric and hugely creative, said recently that he only gave me a role as his second assistant to stop me constantly hounding him on the phone for a job.
I worked my way up to be his main assistant. He was very methodical about the shoots he styled, sketching them out before the day and putting together outfits that hung all over his apartment.
I was in awe of his creativity, as he sat there making accessories from corks, buttons and whatever else he could salvage. Whatever he did was truly original, and his editorial shoots for I.D., The Face or whatever he was doing were whatever he came up with.
He followed no trends and used whatever designers he liked. It’s through Judy that I met George, and when he became to busy, started styling him.”
“Iain R Webb was more serious. Equally creative but more corporate I guess.
When I was unable to contact him, I gate crashed a party I’d heard he was attending (I literally walked in backwards). I knew what he looked like and went up to him and told him I wanted to assist him but that he never took my calls. He looked at me and said: “If you call tomorrow I’ll take the call.”
I did, and he did. I worked for him at Riva Magazine for three months as an unpaid intern in the fashion cupboard. It was there I learned about returns, taking care of samples and how the fashion magazine industry worked.
After three months I got the job as fashion assistant. Three days after that the magazine folded. Iain fought hard for me and I got 10 months redundancy money, more than enough to keep me going, and he took me with him to Elle as his assistant when he became the Men’s Fashion Editor. That’s really how I fell into menswear.”
See more of David’s work here.