Who here watches The City? Ha… do you think we're about to start a conversation where we have a mutual love of the show. Sadly not. I don't possess MTV nor have I had the inclination to watch confusingly scripted pseudo-reality shows. I'm deathly confused by the idea of someone who supposedly works at US Elle magazine but err…actually doesn't but everyone has to pretend that they do. That's err… a lot of work and effort to portray a supposedly 'real' environment. Perhaps more closely related to the subject of this post is Stylista, a show that I did catch a few episodes of. Ah yes, more my bag… contestants actually fighting it out for a paid editorial position at US Elle. All of this feeding the curiosity plant and the growing obsession of "How to make it in the fashion biz", a subject that Fashionista has quite cleverly locked into.
On Monday, I went along to see one of the semi-final stages of British Elle's competition 'From Shopgirl to Stylist'. I've been intrigued by it had but haven't had the insight to comment on it given that the competition was online based and sadly entry images were teensy tiny. Premise is simple. British Elle saw the potential bevy of talented stylists hidden amongst the people who work in retail, those that might be styling mannequins and offering style advice on a day to day basis, working on the high street or in the independent sector and set a competition around that. The ultimate prize is the opportunity to style a fashion shoot for Elle, a six month internship and mentoring from fashion director Anne-Marie Curtis and unspoken of course is all the contacts and kudos that come with working at a magazine like Elle.
They asked these shop girls and boys to upload an image that they had styled, either of themselves or someone else and from the entries, they have now whittled it down to 25 finalists. As somebody who has fallen into the peripheries of the fashion industry in quite an odd way, all of this is fascinating to me. The vying of a big break is something that I've never personally experienced but am intrigued by. Hence why I gobble up shows like Stylista/Project Runway. The British reality played out on Monday when four contestants went to present their double sided moodboards to go with their concept for a high street A/W 10-11 shoot, detailing what would be shot, how, hair and make-up, mood, trends etc to Natalie
Wansbrough-Jones (Senior Fashion Editor) and Donna Wallace (Accessories Editor) from the Elle team. I was the sitting observing duck… nodding, clapping but of course, not offering any comment. It was interesting to see how the judges commented – obviously as semi-final tasks are still taking place, I'd rather not delve too deep lest the other contestants are reading but all I can say is that comments were all pretty positive.
Lauren McBride was up first presenting an all-black, shape and texture driven shoot. Hailing from Liverpool (she works for Project Catwalk alum Kirsty McDoyle), Lauren happens to be a fellow blogger as well. She wears Moschino belts well and manages to pull off using the word "Ace". Her presentation was pretty straight to the point and didn't need too much of a tale to tell given the theme.
Ellie Wilcox who works at Next was up err… next. Her moodboard was probably the most evolved in that she had done her own sketches, added a narrative to her "Woman on a Misson" shoot, inspired by all things outdoors-y. All knits, layers, shearling, belts around scarves and piled onto a deliberately chunky effect.
Emma Molyneax who works in Topshop in Cardiff lugged the heaviest moodboard in, mounted on wood to illustrate another outdoors-inspired shoot. This time round though, it's a dreamier and more delicate affair and probably one that I'd like to see brought to life the most just because I happen to like delicate creatures in the woods. That's a personal preference by the way as all the presentations were of a high standard.
Last up was Lucy Kenny from Lymington (works at Kiki's boutique) who presented a shoot inspired by the anarchic layers of John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood. It's seemingly difficult to apply this type of styling to the high street but I'd love to see how Lucy would mash things up together for her shoot.
The next stage will be the 25 whittling down toe 10 and then in October, the finalists will be set further styling tasks as well as being mentored by the Elle team including Lorraine Candy herself, in order to finalise the winner. I suppose that's when the hyper Stylista-esque stuff comes into play. Now… who is up for sneaking a secret camera in there…