Danielle Griffiths, has over 15 years Fashion industry experience, having graduated from Westminster University with a BA in Fashion in 2001. Danielle has styled various people and recently write her first book, Fashion Stylist’s Handbook, to give an insider’s guide to working in styling.
We dig a little deeper to understand how Danielle started out, her inspirations, keeping up with the industry, along with some all important advice for up-and-coming stylists looking to create a storm in the fashion world.
Briefly describe to us your career path up to now
I graduated from Westminster University in the summer of 2000, with a BA in Fashion. After graduate fashion week I took up an internship with Tracey Mulligan, where I met her stylist for London Fashion Week (LFW), Faye Sawyer. I had worked a lot with Faye during the build up to LFW, and loved it. Rather than being in the office, I was sent off to hunt and gather for the show, from shoes to buying toupee tape, then helped with the show's running order and dressing the models. I overheard Faye saying she needed a new assistant, and being so fresh out of university it took me three days to pluck up the courage to ask Faye if I could assist her. She said yes, and that is where it all started.
"I was sent off to hunt and gather for the show, from shoes to buying toupee tape"
Along with Faye I assisted a lot of different stylists through the agency Lisa Gorman, now LGA. On jobs, I met a lot of the fashion teams' assistants and from there we would get together and start shooting tests (shooting fashion shoots for free).
By 2003, I got my first break. One of the freelance stylists I was working with was offered a full time job, and she passed me her music clients - S Club and Amy Studt. This was incredibly exciting but also quite daunting.
After a stint with music I worked for free on a short film for a few months, which I loved, working with a crew was great and after, I got a lot of advertising gigs through the producer and director. Clearasil ads, Bravo and Living TV in-house ads, MTV - Sony Ericsson, FIFA UNCIEF, Dove, Gillette. It was going really well.
Then I got an agent, which was what I had been wanting for so long. I was over the moon, my clients however were not. My fees had risen by 20% and many asked me to reconsider.
In the end I realised it didn't work - so I started again and looked for more experience, I went back to the bookers at LGA and they helped me out. I started working for a new stylist Susan Hilderbrandt, which was an eye opener. She taught me an incredible amount, not only in terms of styling, but how to gain my own - and the client's - confidence.
"Suddenly I could pull in more or less what I liked from PR’s, so my portfolio started to look more and more professional."
By the middle of 2006 I finally got a great agent, Terri Manduca. Within weeks I was working with great photographers, for great magazines, makeup artists, hair stylists, I had a brilliant booker and I was off.
With Terri Manduca I worked for Observer Woman and Observer Food Monthly, which made my job a lot easier. Suddenly I could pull in more or less what I liked from PR’s, so my portfolio started to look more and more professional. This continued until the end of 2012.
Describe a typical day for you
I moved to Brussels in November 2012, following my husband's job and to look after my children. So since then I have concentrated on writing my book and doing talks on styling in fashion colleges in London and Brussels. I've also helped set up a fashion business course in Antwerp, and work with students in a Brussels fashion academy.
But as a freelance fashion stylist, there's no typical day - that's part of the joy of the job. I could be doing a shoot or contacting current or future clients to book appointments for possible jobs. Or calling up PR’s to acquire clothes for a shoot for editorial, or organising the clothes for the returns back to the PR’s or shops. Each day is always completely different - as every job and client are different.
What challenges do you have as a stylist?
The challenges I faced as a freelance stylist were always going round in circles. I needed to test to improve my portfolio; and I needed to work in editorial in order to attract advertising clients, which would bring in the money.
"I was testing for free (which is normal), working for small amounts with magazines (which is normal)"
The problem was, I was testing for free (which is normal), working for small amounts with magazines (which is normal), trying to get appointments with ad agencies to show my book in order to get the jobs (which paid a lot) - all the while trying to arrange budgets and invoices, chase earlier invoices, return clothes to PRs, organise test shoots, or prep for magazines to keep my book up to date. As a freelancer you have to wear many hats in order to run your own business.
What makes a good stylist to you?
There are many things that make a good stylist, here are just a few: A "can-do" attitude, confidence, creativity, a visual knowledge of history and fashion; being ahead of the curve and exceptionally well-organised, a good networker with great contacts, a researcher; and lastly, you need access to a magic wand...
What advice would you give to student or recent graduate looking to become a fashion stylist?
Intern and intern a lot, gain experience with magazines - you will see how the job works and you will see how different stylists work. You will have many more opportunities than a freelancer to see how the editorial industry works. You will learn about professionalism, styling and work with more designers than you could ever hope.
How do you keep up with fashion trends?
I read a lot in the newspapers and online. I follow the fashion weeks and try to go to a few shows when I can. But more importantly, I always got my fashion reference from what was going on around me. When I was working in a nightclub in Soho (while styling), it had a huge influence on how I dressed bands and solo artists. Now with street-style blogs and Instagram, there is such a huge influx of information that it’s easy to be inspired about trends.
Online websites that intrigue me are…
- Brain Pickings
- Fashion Rogue
- Trunk Archive - which are great websites for photographers, always good to see what the big photographers are shooting and for whom and which teams.
What's been the best moment of your career, so far?
My book getting published! But also - a headshot on the cover of Sunday Times Style Magazine, it didn’t matter that no styling was seen with the headshot, my name was in the magazine, one of which I had always grown up with, it was an incredibly proud moment. It means nothing to anyone else to see the image from a styling point of view, it was my own small highlight.
If you could give anyone a makeover, who would it be?
I wouldn’t need to do a make-over as she has a great style, but who I would still like to work with is Gwen Stefani, ever since she did the video with No Doubt called 'It’s My Life' and she became a solo artist, seeing her go from strength to strength was awe-inspiring, especially in terms of her styling.
And finally, if you could share a desk with anyone from the past, present or future, who would it be?
I have a few…
Frank O Gehry - I have always been inspired by his architectural drawings.
Grace Coddington - who wouldn’t like to share a desk with her? I would just love to shadow Grace and see how she works.
Petra Storrs - I’m intrigued by how she works, one of the best interviews in my book is with Petra, she inspires me hugely.
Photo credit: Vita June
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