Interview – Laura Mullett, Stylist & Blogger

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How would you  describe what you do, and how did it all come about?

I suppose my job is a bit unconventional! At the minute I’m a radio journalist for RTE 2XM on Mondays, and I cover press previews & events and also review artists & bands. One of the perks of this is getting to see movies before they come out!

From Tuesday to Thursday & occasionally Sundays I work as an editorial & commercial fashion stylist for press. At this time of year I style ad campaigns for different products and also style celebrities for magazine & newspaper shoots.  I have styled shoots for ‘The Herald’, ‘The Independent’, ‘The Sunday Business Post’ ‘Image Magazine’, ‘The Sunday World Magazine’ & many more. During the week I also have writing deadlines – I work as a freelance magazine contributor. My most recent piece is a style guide for women in their forties showcasing the best party dresses & accessories for Christmas which will feature in the Sunday World Magazine.

I’m a personal shopper for Dundrum Town Centre on Fridays & Saturdays,  and I have a blog (Lipstick Gossip). But I suppose what kicked off everything would be the latter, my blog.

I started writing posts while I was still in college, but what set me apart was my content because I had started working covering the Irish film and television awards (IFTA’s). I had these unbelievable, uninhibited, inside interviews, with A-list celebrities which many 19 year olds wouldn’t have.

So I started writing about that and the fashion and glamour surrounding it, and through my blogging I started to get invited to launches and PR companies would invite me to different things, and I suppose I truly started to network.

But I kind of felt like as much as I loved journalism and as much as I loved to write I wanted to become an expert on something eventually, I wanted to be in a particular field. And since I’ve been a kid I’ve been obsessed with fashion and clothes (to a bizarre level) and it felt like a really good fit for me. But I wasn’t sure how to get there, so I suppose the blog was a great asset from the start.

 

What is it about fashion that holds such an attraction to you?

I love the way it is like one big circle, and that trends re-emerge, and are recreated, and I think it’s a really creative way to express yourself and your personality through your own sense of style.

I come from a family of people who love clothes and fashion, but my Mam is a big inspiration to me, she designed her own wedding dress, and had it made in a time when no one would have done that, and her dress was pink and a midi dress!

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My mam always encouraged me to wear what I want and to be confident. Even when I was a little girl I would have done that and if anyone had said anything to me it just washed right over me, I didn’t really care.

So with having had the confidence to wear what I wanted to wear, and then as I turned 17 I realised, “God, I’d love to have a real career in this”, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. As much as I had ambition to be a writer I wanted to explore the  possibilities. I thought that through becoming a journalist, there’s such a prestige to it, and especially going somewhere like Griffith College would be a fantastic start in life. It’s one of these things where you are so proud to tell people where you went and to have a BA in journalism & visual media.

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But where the visual media comes into play, you know an understanding of photography, and being able to write, it’s just paramount to being a stylist because you have to be good with words & eloquent. You have to be able to write as well as style, and in terms of the styling department I am self-taught, but being a journalist, is a good solid platform to work from.

 

How much do you think what a person wears says about them?

I’m not going to turn around and say that it speaks volumes. I think it might say a lot about them on that day.

For me, some days I can be pared back and other days I can go full swing. I think you wake up in the morning and sometimes your sense of dress can be very functional and there’s no shame in that either, I think it’s all about just finding things that suit you and you can utilise on a daily basis. It isn’t always about fashion over function it is about finding a blend between the two.

For me a huge part of my job is trend forecasting. When I started to realize I could be a stylist, I was studying in Griffith College. I went to New York & I got a pair of shoes as a birthday present to myself – a pair of Jeffrey Campbell’s. I had never heard of them before then, and I had an awful time getting them back on the plane because they were covered in spikes. I labelled them ‘WMD’s’ because they were lethally spiky on the heel. Two years later everyone in Ireland was wearing Jeffrey Campbell’s.

I think it’s kind of like that, you find something you like, that works for you and instead of following trends, set them. Wear what you want to wear. If someone gets up in the morning and thinks “I want to roll up my jeans above the ankle and wear a pair of high heels with a mac” they should, or if someone is like “oh, I want to wear my pink sparkly ballet pumps” go for it.

I think your sense of dress is really important, going for something like an interview is about toeing the line, but I’m a firm believer in dressing fabulous, but appropriate.

 

I remember once seeing an episode of Ugly Betty where they defined what being a stylist is all about. I imagine it is a little more complicated than that, isn’t it?

That’s a fantastic in-joke, to be honest I think a lot of people feel like that. What makes you a stylist? It’s not about you, it’s about having an evolved sense of style, and it’s about understanding body shapes, being able to dress people, being able to understand and interpret trends, and answer a brief. It’s not something that you pick up off the ground, I think in most instances you do need a relevant college background and then you need to study it and be passionate about it, to know the ins and outs of it.

For example, Monday to Friday I work as editorial commercial fashion stylist. I got a call, two weeks ago, for the InStyler ad campaign, it’s a new hair tool. They said “We want you to style four of Ireland’s top models”

It will be my job to creatively direct that shoot. So I have to go away, think about it. They tell me the location, I have to picture it, picture the girls, get the sizes, get in touch with different brands and companies, set all of it up, pull the items in the right sizes. Get shoes, four pairs of shoes per girl, that’s a lot of shoes, sixteen pairs.

Then I have to think about, ok well, for the hair to be the focal point, and if we want to shoot all the girls together, little black dresses, body cons, but they need to be different but coordinated, there is an incredible amount of thought that has to go into it. But before the booking I was already scheduled for important meetings in London. Therefore I had to organise everything to run smoothly and have 2 assistants do the legwork on the day. I always bend over backwards for the client.

If you want to be a stylist, which I would totally encourage, if that’s your dream go for it. You’re probably best to think about studying it and understanding the difference between UK sizes and European sizes and all of that. With having a command of that and having good PR relationships which I made through my blog, that’s kind of what you need to kick-off.

I would have started working with the likes of River Island, and Penneys. They would have brought me in and even talked me through collections before anybody else could see them at press previews. So I think that’s what really pulled me in to what I’m doing now.

 

When I was doing a fashion shoot for my college magazine it was difficult sourcing clothes to use, especially when working with a zero budget. How did you find it starting out?

You need to be able to offer people something in return, no one is going to want to give you clothes from the get go without guarantees of credits and everything, so you need to build up relationships, maybe assist a stylist that’s being published and then that’s probably a good ‘in’. It’s a unique career path in itself. For me, my ultimate dream is to be a fashion editor of a magazine and that’s why this is so important to me. Even now, with my experience, I would always be smart about who I ask and what I ask for, because you don’t want to push people either, and you want to maintain strong connections and understand that people have limits, and for them the clothes have to be appropriately credited, for people to buy them in the first place, it’s the whole point of advertising.

I love working with the likes of Brown Thomas, Harvey NicholsHouse of Fraser, and having access to stunning brands for editorials. This week I shot a festive editorial for the Sunday Business Post. I used a selection of Irish Designers with a blend of high street & high end brands and it was one of my favourite shoots to date. I was working with a spectacular team and even though those days are dawn ‘til dusk they are the most rewarding. I can’t wait for the shoot to land!

 

What is your approach to working with people, in particular with regards to your success and building relationships in the industry?

I think first and foremost if you have a confidence and you have a certain way about you. I was mannerly from the get go, when I was looking for anything, I was gracious and I was gracious when at times it didn’t work out initially as well. I didn’t take it personally, because you can’t and I think that was integral for me building relationships. When I interviewed Ryan Tubridy at the IFTA’s two years ago he echoed that sentiment and you can tell that is due to the fact he worked his way up.

You go from a handshake to a hug relationship with people over time. You’re going to see these people a couple of times a week, for example, lets say Pennys and River Island PR I’ve used before and the likes of TOPSHOP, the girls I have dealt with go above and beyond to help you and they are really, really kind as well. So you kind of grow to appreciate them, and just how challenging their positions are.

 

What type of publications and people have you worked with?

I love working with the Sunday World Magazine, they are some of my favourite people to work with, I get to style cover shoots for them a good bit, maybe it could be for Fair City, or it could be the beautiful Rachel Wyse of Sky Sports.

You also worked on a big project with Madeline Mulqueen, can you tell us about it.

Myself and Madeline had a real adventure over the summer. She asked me to be her stylist for all the Transformers: Age of Extinction premieres. It was one of the most fantastic opportunities of my life and going to the Dublin premiere and to dress Madeline for that and even looking around at the style and glamour of it I really got a flavour of what the other premieres were like.

I styled Madeline for the movie press tour for red carpets in Dublin, Berlin, New York, Shanghai, Miami, Rio, Tokyo and Beijing. I worked closely with an array of top Irish designers and utilised the opportunity to promote Irish design on an international platform.

It was a surreal opportunity for me to work with the likes of Joanne Hynes, Louise Kennedy, Zoë Carol, to name but a few. Truthfully, working on Madeline’s tour gave me a chance to work with people I’ve idolized for a long time, so that was pretty cool.

Out of that experience you’ve no idea my excitement, even with the time differences, I had a Google alerts set up and I just couldn’t wait, because there would be press pictures going up all over the world and I could check… “oh my god she’s wearing such and such and looks great”.

It was one of the most challenging jobs I have ever taken on. Getting ready for that within an 8 week period of fittings, and I had a part in the design process as well for  one of the looks which was phenomenal.

But I was able to sit back when it was finished, and I remember the Daily Mail did this big spread “Transformed” with all the different looks and I was just so excited, and I still am excited about it, and out of it I’ve made a forever friend and client in Madeline. We still work together and we’re shooting together really soon as well which is very exciting.

 

You mentioned  wanting to work with Irish designers, Who would be your favourite both national and international?

I love Alexander Wang and DKNY. My style icon would be Diane Kruger she wears a lot of Chanel, I think Chanel have really upped their game and become a lot more playful and fun. I suppose that has something to do with Cara Delevingne being the face of the brand, maybe she’s the muse and inspiration.

In terms of Irish designers I adore Giovanna Borza, Joanne Hynes, Louise Kennedy. I recently styled Zoë Carol’s look-book for next season, the pictures aren’t out yet, but her clothes are just phenomenal, they are clean, they are minimalist, they are just everything I would want in a garment. She is supremely talented.

Sean Byrne is a brilliant Irish designer as well, I love his tailoring, I think it’s really sleek and chic. There’s a lot of up and coming talent in Ireland and truthfully I’m discovering new designers all the time. Knitwear maven Honor Fitzsimons came to my attention a couple of months ago and now with social media you can follow people on Instagram to see what’s coming up. We really do have a wealth of talent here.

 

 

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You’ve had the chance to meet plenty of celebrities, have you ever found yourself starstruck?

Truthfully, I don’t know what it is but I only have the starstruck vibe afterwards. At the time, when I’m in work mode I’m super excited but I kinda suppress it.

I’ve been doing the Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTA’s) for five years now, and the time I met Kim Cattrall I stopped breathing, I was so excited, I was 20 and obsessed with Sex in the City, at the time it was the coolest thing in the world, but I think one of the most fun experiences would have been this year at the IFTA’s, I interviewed Colin Farrell. You know, sometimes these things are a little push & shove, people are going to interrupt you and you can barely get a question in but, and I don’t know what it was, but we started having a little bit of craic. Whatever happened I got his proper attention and nobody interrupted so I would have had 4 or 5 minutes uninterrupted time, which is very unusual with people on the red carpet, he turned around and said “sure we might as well go for a cup of tea”.

Now obviously he didn’t mean it but it made me sound like the coolest person on the air, you know “just goin’ for a cup of tea with the lads gonna bring Colin Farrell along” but I was so excited and he was so genuine, we got in a selfie, and he goes “I’ll take the selfie, I have longer arms” which is the coolest thing ever. Then I was really embarrassed because I dropped my iPhone and I had a cracked screen but he didn’t seem to notice so it’s not too bad.

 

Lately I have seen a lot on social media posts about your work as a personal shopper. What exactly does a “personal shopper” do?

Personal shopping is one of the most intimate, and lovely experiences I have ever encountered work wise. Basically, I was recruited and got a job in Dundrum Shopping Centre. So on Friday’s & Saturday’s I am available (bit of a plug for me there haha) for personal shopping appointments. I get four appointments a day, they are two hours long, and anyone from 18 to 80 years old will book in with me on any given day.

Somebody could be looking for a birthday dress, or a winter wardrobe update. They come in, and I bring them to this very fabulous, personal style team room, and we have a chat about their likes and dislikes, and what they are looking for. During that time I get a feel for their personality and the bounds of what they will need, and then off we go. I’ll bring them around the centre, I cover every shop. I’ll help them dress for their shape, talk them through Autumn/Winter seasonal trends, what’s good for them, and also I make a huge effort to get them the best value, and also how they can incorporate their purchases into their existing wardrobe. Trans-seasonal trends to take them from Winter to Spring, so that way people are really getting more bang for their buck so to speak.

I’ve been doing it in Dundrum now for over 3 months, and I’ve had so many lovely clients. One nice experience would have been a few Saturday’s back, I had a client in her late 70’s, she tried on this gorgeous, gray furry, cape and she looked in the mirror and said “I feel like Queen Elizabeth, I’m lovely”, and it was just so endearing. You really get to know people, and you’re nearly sad to say goodbye at the end of the appointment, and wish them well for whatever they came in for be it a wedding or an anniversary or special event.

I think one of the best things about working with Dundrum (which is an adorable regular occurrence) when a new Mam shows up whose husband surprises her & has got her some vouchers and booked her in with me for the style team service. It takes the stress out of shopping, as you get to skip the queues, validated parking, and a beauty voucher, as well as getting expertise & a guiding hand to help speed up the process. I’ve seen it a few times and the women almost have tears in their eyes when their partner does something so kind! They’re so delighted, I think it is one of the kindest things you can do.

I think some people think personal shopping would be like The Devil Wears Prada where some snobby girl in high heels, walks around and acts like she owns the place, but realistically it’s like shopping with a friend, who has really good access.

Men who would avail of it do so because they hate shopping, and you can help them get a suit in 25 minutes instead of them pottering around for hours and getting frustrated. So its more just assisting people. It’s also great for sussing gifts.

I found starting in Dundrum daunting as I have to know what is in every single shop, and the first day I found challenging, but now I feel I know it like the back of my hand and I enjoy it. I always look forward to it and I’ve always dreamed that I’d have a position that I could enjoy. But I think it’s nice to have the balance of being a commercial and editorial fashion stylist, being a writer, and having two days a week (as a personal shopper), because it still enables me to freelance which I’ve been doing for four years, and it’s something I really enjoy doing.

 

You have managed to utilise social media very well, how much of an impact has it had on your career?

Being truthful, you have to have your finger on the pulse; and when people invite you to an event it’s a social nicety to Instagram, Tweet, Facebook, and you know, it adds a bit of glamour to life as well.

I think my Instagram probably showcases a slightly more glamorous life than perhaps the life I’m leading, but so be it, I think people feed in to that and even in terms of my clients, a lot of them follow me on social media and it generates a little bit of buzz about brands and events.

When people hire you, for example, I got hired a few weeks back to host a shoe event in Clerys, for a brand called Moda in Pelle, and the reason I got the job is I put a pair of shoes up on Instagram and they sold out in Clerys. It’s not that my Instagram following would be ginormous, I think it’s more the quality of content you put up and if you hone it in the people that do follow you care about what you have to say and what you are sharing, and as you build up a client base, whether it’s people working in fashion and beauty or it’s fellow bloggers.

For me, I would consider Instagram a little bit of fun, but my Twitter and Facebook I would keep more work oriented, as I do realize they are on my business cards and they are what potential employers, brands & clients look at.

 

Finally, what advice would you give to people starting out?

I would very honestly say to have a little bit of a strategy. You want to start a blog, think about your interests. Is it culture, is it beauty? Maybe find something, because you can branch out later, it’s good to do it that way. And write about something you are really passionate about and you enjoy, in terms of blogging that’s always a great way to go.

For me I would have started off with fashion, beauty, entertainment, media, but that was quite relevant to me going into journalism to write about media, and interviews, and radio. But I kind of knew, in terms of styling, that it would someday be pivotal if I wanted to be a fashion editor when I’m older. That’s because those are the jobs you get in years and years – I think it’s very important if people are sitting down to think about “where do I want to be in 5 or 10 years, how will this help me?” “is this feasible?” “Can I do it?”

If you are confident and willing to put yourself out there, reach out to companies, maybe review products on your own, buy the CD, go to the cinema and blog your views. It’s a fantastic outlet and hobby even if you are not thinking of it in a business sense.

 

To find out more and see what Laura is up to next you can check out the below links:

Blog: www.lipstickgossiplady.blogspot.ie

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lauramullettstylist

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lauramullettstyle

Twitter: www.twitter.com/lauramullett

Website: www.lauramullett.com

 

 

– gallery images provided by Laura Mullett



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