Style icon, fashion director of the Daily Telegraph and avid gardener, we chat to the one and only Hilary Alexander OBE.
Hilary Alexander OBE, will be hosting the OLYMPUS PEN Style Studio at The Clothes Show across the 5 days of the show, interviewing designers and discovering what it takes to become a top fashion designer.
What more can you tell us about the Olympus PEN Style Studio at the Clothes Show?
The Olympus Pen Style Studio will be the place to discover all the latest news and hot tips on fashion, hair and beauty. I’ll be interviewing a host of young designers and I’ll be joined by co-hosts Mark Hayes, Lilah Parsons and Jules Heponstall.
Do you have any behind the scenes secrets from Britain’s Next Top Model?
Sorry, can’t reveal any ‘secrets’; you’ll have to watch the new series when it launches on Lifestyle TV in mid-January. But I can tell you that Paul Sculfor is just as good-looking in the flesh; Abbey Clancy is genuinely warm and friendly, as well as being beautiful and a true Scouser; and Nicky Johnston has a wicked sense of humour. We all got on like a house on fire.
Who are you most looking forward to interviewing at the show?
No one particular designer, but I always enjoy hearing the stories and the struggles younger designers such as Jasper Garvida and Katie Jones had to go through to get a start in fashion and set up their own brands. And I was thrilled to see Erin O’Connor wearing a beautiful Emilio de la Morena gown at the recent Save the Children “Alice in Wonderland” charity ball. We’ll be talking to Emilio, too, and we’ll have a photograph of Erin in that gown.
If you could interview yourself, what question would you ask?
What would you be if you hadn’t gone into fashion?
London Fashion Week is the city to showcase new designers. Who are your favourite British designers?
Chris Kane, Erdem, Jonathan Saunders, Simone Rocha, Henry Holland, Giles, Gareth Pugh, Sibling and Christopher Raeburn.
Are there any emerging talents we should keep an eye out for this season?
I’ve been keeping an eye of the RCA graduate James Kelly; I’m very keen on the work of Danielle Romeril, Faustine Steinmetz, and Barbara Casasola, and I think Ed Marler, who has just graduated from CSM, AND did a distressed ‘Game of Thrones’ style presentation, with the help of friends and very little money is an exciting new talent.
What advice would you give our readers who want to break into the world of fashion?
Study hard, be passionate, enthusiastic, determined and committed and be prepared to take on every possible experience.
What are your predictions for the key trends at LFW?
I think there will be a continuing emphasis on hand-crafts, unusual and amazing fabrications and an emphasis on heritage and traditional skills.
Can you tell us about your favourite undiscovered spots to eat/drink/shop during LFW?
No time to shop! Usually try and grab a quick bite in the BFC media lounge, or, if there’s a pub nearby, grab a quick glass of white wine.
Fashion week calls for lots of travelling, what are your beauty secrets?
I drink masses of coconut water; keep hand-cream in my handbag; use lots of moisturiser; and don’t stay late at parties.
When you are not busy working what do you like to do to relax and unwind?
I am a passionate gardener. I can spend hours pruning, trimming, planting. I also love reading – am currently trying to slowly work my way through War and Peace (finally) – and I love watching Strictly, Escape to the Country, and Homes under the Hammer; also box-sets like Breaking Bad and The Good Wife.
London really nurtures young designers. What do you think it is about London that makes it such a hub of creative energy and talent?
I think the fact we are an island, with a tradition of rebellion and eccentricity, makes an ideal breeding ground for new talent, and colleges such as Central St Martins, RCA, LCF, Kingston and Westminster, positively encourage freedom of expression, allied to a disciplined approach to design.
How would you describe a day in the life of Hilary?
Every day is different. It may be interviewing and writing copy for Hello Fashion Monthly, working on details for next year’s Graduate Fashion Week (I am a trustee), and next year is our 25th anniversary, with Victoria Beckham, and Christopher Bailey (who won the first-ever Gold Award when he graduated from Westminster 25 years ago) as patrons; going to press days; planning for next year’s Breast Cancer Care gala; doing promotion for Britain’s Next Top Model – so many different things.
Fashion journalism has changed considerably during your career. Do you embrace the online changes or will you always love print?
I love both. When I worked at the Daily Telegraph we went from typewriters to computers overnight. I’ve been on Twitter since it started and have about 290,000 followers, and am slowly building up my Instagram.
Style is very important to you – how would you describe your style?
It’s probably a bit boho. I love tribal jewellery and always wear big ethnic necklaces from Kenya or Morocco. I love colour and print, but if in a rush I rely on black with a big necklace.
Any advice for readers who want to experiment with their style a little?
Don’t be afraid to try and experiment. Don’t dismiss something by saying “I could never wear that!’ – you don’t know until you try. And always try and look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what you would think if someone dressed like that came towards you in the street. If the answer is “Yuck!”, try something else·
What’s your motto?
Life is for living. Be passionate and enthusiastic and kind to others
See Hilary at The Clothes Show 4-8 December at the NEC in Birmingham, buy your tickets at www.clothesshow.com