flaunt the imperfection
Katie Grand - Stylist & Editor-in-Chief, Love Magazine
The Grand manner
How did a 'nerd' from Birmingham become the coolest stylist in British fashion? Emily Bearn meets Katie Grand
Katie Grand's 'capsule wardrobe', which consists of about a thousand skirts and jackets and a hundred or so pairs of shoes, is accommodated in her three-bedroom house in Kentish Town.
Grand in 2002: 'homespun'
Her surplus wardrobe, which contains every item of clothing she has bought since the age of 15, is housed down the road and fills a storage unit the size of a pantechnicon truck.
'Alaïa,' she explains, briskly taking me upstairs into the corner of a room the size of a squash court filled entirely with clothes rails. 'Then we go along, alphabetically, to Balenciaga… Chanel… loads of Comme des Garçons, Courrèges…' Grand sweeps down several metres of rail, rapidly plucking at T-shirts and jackets as though they were long-lost friends. ('Marc Jacobs! Lovely!… And you can never have enough vintage Jean Muir!') 'I've got so many clothes but I never get, you know, confused by them. I always decide exactly what I'm going to wear within seven minutes of waking up.'
It is perhaps in part thanks to such decisiveness that Grand, a 33-year-old freelance stylist from Birmingham, is reputed to have become one of the most influential figures in the fashion business - 'one of the most powerful stylists in the world', according to The Telegraph. 'What Katie does - and Katie says - is as influential as it gets,' according to the Evening Standard.
It certainly appeared so last August, when she casually told New York Magazine that 'There's something very interesting about working-class Britain in the early 1960s.'
The remark unleashed a maelstrom of newspaper headlines, announcing the imminent arrival of British 'granny chic'.
'It all started when an American journalist asked me what will be in next season,' she explains, talking in a vestigial Birmingham accent. 'I was obsessed with Coronation Street at the time so I just said, "Oh, it will all be about Coronation Street." I suppose I was being a bit precocious.'
For the less precocious reader, it might be helpful to explain why Miss Grand has become such a force to reckon with. The secret, as one fashion commentator puts it, seems simply to be 'an uncanny knack for getting in with all the right people'.
She was at Central St Martins College of Art and Design with Stella McCartney. She then became the lover of the photographer Rankin and, for seven years, worked with him as the fashion director of the magazine Dazed & Confused, which he founded.
'We were both forceful people, so there was sometimes a bit of a clash,' she explains, gently extricating a herbal teabag from her mug. 'We were incredibly young, so we wouldn't care if we were screaming at each other when there were visitors to the office. Things would get thrown around all the time.'
What sort of things? 'Computers. Filing cabinets. You know. It was all about screaming and swearing. That was just the time and the mood. I look back and I love how arrogant we all were.'
She now juggles a lucrative career as a freelance stylist - her recent clients include Miu Miu, Prada, Calvin Klein and, currently, Louis Vuitton's men's and womenswear - with editing Pop, a biannual fashion magazine, which, according to one insider, is 'so hip it makes Anna Wintour tremble'. (The latest issue appeared last month.)
The front of Pop's second issue was inspired by a New Order album cover
For the cover of her first issue, four years ago, she invited her friends Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, Luella Bartley and Liberty Ross to pose as pole dancers. Subsequent covers were to include a near-naked Madonna in bondage cords.
Given her unimpeachably fashionable reputation, Grand appears reassuringly homespun. When I first knocked on her door there was no reply, but a call to her assistant, Mandi, confirmed that she was minutes away: 'You'll see her approaching down the street soon,' I was briefed. 'She's got long hair… tallish… she looks stylish but not… well, you know, not…' Not very smart, certainly.
She has a gap-toothed smile and curly, hopelessly unruly hair, part of which is wrestled into an elastic band. Her slightly ramshackle appearance is accentuated by a nondescript T-shirt and a pair of baggy, elasticated black trousers: 'I've just been running,' she explains apologetically. 'But I am not a tracksuit-during-the-day kind of person. Never. Strictly never.'
Her house would certainly suggest that fashion is her main concern. She lives with her boyfriend, Steve Mackey, the bass-player in Pulp, but - beside Grand's wardrobe - neither of them appears to have amassed many possessions. The drawing-room is bare save for a couple of low-slung sofas and chairs, and the kitchen shelves are piled with fashion manuals rather than recipe books.
'Mewch was amazing to work with,' Grand remarks - referring, I assume, to Miuccia Prada, as she scours her vast, retro-style fridge in search of apple juice. 'She's just got this incredible dynamism. She's got a great knack of always being right. And Marc [Jacobs -- confusingly, this is an industry in which no one appears to have a surname] is amazing, too. He's just got this incredible feel for what people want to wear.'
The same might be said for Miss Grand: 'I think for this decade it's not about a total look,' she says. 'It might just be about a cashmere sweater. I think after the decadence and heaviness of winter, summer might be a little less embellished… fewer brooches… maybe a bit younger. The Margaret Thatcher look was definitely a big part of winter, but summer will be different. I've got a big, big thing for floral prints at the moment.'
And, a few seasons down the line, Grand's considerable clout might ensure - heaven forfend - that we all have a big, big thing about shoulder pads: 'In ten years' time there could be a 1980s revival,' she explains confidently. 'Even now, there's something about looking at an image of Paula Yates in an Antony Price dress that looks very right.'
Paula Yates hardly seems the most likely fashion icon for the next generation; but Katie Grand has spent a lot of time considering such things. The daughter of a cancer research scientist, she has, by her own definition, been 'obsessed' with fashion since the age of 12, when her father's girlfriend introduced her to the joys of Warehouse.
'I was really nerdy,' Grand says. 'And then kind of overnight I can remember clearly thinking, "I just want to be cool." There are photographs of me aged 12 wearing waist-high tight red jeans with a puffed-sleeve blue sweater and awful hair, and then aged 13 in an ankle-length black gathered skirt, white shirt tucked in, braces, a black tie, black lace tights, navy blue stilettos and a black beret with a veil. It all sort of came together quite quickly.'
At the venerable age of 33, does she ever sense that her interest in fashion might wane? 'No,' she replies, suddenly emphatic. 'Never. I'll still be just as into it when I'm 80.
'It's not something that just comes and goes. But I have a sense of humour about it… Or, at least, I like to think that I do.'
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."
Thanks for the article softgrey, I'm a huge fan of her work. I think as a whole stylists are grossly underrated, but she tends to get at least some of the attention she deserves.
There's oodles of her work on http://www.clmus.com/ which is the site for her agency.
Here's an interview from Hintmag.
The woman herself.
Another Katie Grand article...
From : http://saltyt.antville.org/20030126/
Sun, 26.01.2003, 11:11
Pop it goes
What Katie did...
Britain's coolest fashion queen has no trouble getting the A-list to pose for her glossy mag. Just ask Madonna
By Tamsin Blanchard The Observer
She's as likely to be seen buzzing about backstage, chatting to her friends Gisèle or Luella, as sitting, restlessly, waiting for a fashion show to begin, frantically speed-texting on her mobile. Her dark brown hair is usually a fuzzy mess, her skin pale and sleep-deprived. At 32, she is British fashion's brightest, brashest queen bee. And as the show season begins once more, with the cavalcade stopping for a breather after this week's round of haute couture in Paris, before setting off on a month of travels - New York, London, Milan and back to Paris again - pressure is mounting. Katie Grand has a magazine to get on to the newsstands.
Issue six of her glossy, fashion-obsessed biannual, Pop, will be published to coincide with the new collections. The magazine has a circulation of 80,000 but is so trendy it has a an effect on fashion that defies those numbers. The last issue, in case you missed it, featured cover-girl Liz Hurley in black, high-heeled, kinky sex shoes and more mascara than Divine Brown would wear in a week. The first featured Grand's 'gang' - including ex-flatmate and fashion designer Luella Bartley, model of the moment Liberty Ross, and Stella McCartney (the magazine's contributing fashion editor) - all dancing round poles in their skimpies.
Grand has an uncanny knack for getting in with all the right people. She was at Central St Martin's College of Art and Design with McCartney, then became the lover and right-hand woman of celebrity snapper Rankin when he had just founded Dazed and Confused magazine with Kate Moss's boyfriend Jefferson Hack. The fashion photographer Corinne Day worked upstairs from them at the time, and her boyfriend had just directed Oasis's first video. Grand found herself at the epicentre of Cool Britannia, and not only knew its hippest protagonists but - as an up-and-coming stylist - helped to give the era its look as well. Now Grand has such a reputation for being cutting-edge that the fashion establishment is clamouring for her Midas touch.
How, I ask, does a niche magazine such as Pop manage to get Madonna to pose for the cover? 'Stella got Madonna,' she says simply. 'We were sat having a cup of tea and she looked at me and said, "You want to do this, don't you?" and she called her on her mobile. We sent some magazines over and Madonna called Stella back and said it was fine. It was the most smooth-running thing we've ever done.' Easy when you know how. Or should I say, when you know who.
In addition to editing Pop, it was announced last week that Grand has been appointed creative director of the Face. She also styles ad campaigns for fashion houses from Louis Vuitton to Miss Sixty, and works with designer Miuccia Prada, helping to shape a collection that will have the fashion pack salivating, and, in turn, shape the clothes the rest of us buy on the high street.
Although she has friends in high places, Katie Grand is not everybody's cup of Earl Grey. There's a lot of insecurity around - and too many egos.
'I suppose we've always been a loud gang in a way,' Grand says of her fashion clan. 'Luella and I were really aware from the minute we started being friends that we annoyed people. Like there was one London Fashion Week when we wore fluoro for the whole week and just got photographed everywhere. It was just those little things, like not wearing black and heels, and how easy it is to be anti-establishment without doing anything very wrong. Or like being at proper parties drunk and loud and obnoxious and falling over. It's not like we were very influential or anything. It was much more people saying, "Oh, I wish those girls would go and wash!" We were quite scummy really.'
Katie Grand is one of those people you love or hate. But you can't ignore her. Even while we're chatting, over tea in the bar at Claridges, an actor, who is with his agent on the table next to ours, suddenly leans over. 'Who are you?' he demands. 'I work on a magazine,' shrugs Grand. Then he tells us we are talking bullshit, which I'm sure we are, but still, what he really wanted was to pull up his chair and join in. She has this way of attracting friends as well as enemies. Whether people have an axe to grind with her depends, she says, on whether they were at college with her. 'I think all of our year at St Martin's have got certain issues with one another. Without going into detail, all the grudges they had at 21 are still there. On both sides.'
Grand didn't get much out of her stint at Central St Martin's. Having identified her aim in life - to edit Vogue - she enrolled for the Fashion Journalism and Promotion degree, but after a term changed to do Fashion Design with Print. 'I arrived expecting something really different from what it was,' she says, 'and I found it very difficult. I thought it was going to be instructive and positive, like you expect university or college to be, and I found the atmosphere very, very negative.'
As a child, Grand made her own clothes. Her mother, who taught her to knit, moved out when she was about seven, and she grew up with her dad, seeing her mum in the evenings after school. She is an only child. 'I was the centre of attention,' she admits, 'and quite spoilt in that me and my friends were just allowed to do whatever we wanted. When you're a teenager there's always someone's house where the parents don't mind what you get up to. That was our house.'
Her dad's girlfriend was influential in cultivating her fashion cravings. 'She lived in London and was completely obsessed with fashion.' As was her dad. Instead of going abroad on holidays, they would go to London and look at shops. Katharine Hamnett was a favourite. She didn't really know how to turn her penchant for chopping sleeves off T-shirts into the top job at Vogue. All she knew was she had to get into St Martin's. 'There was this complete determination I was going to go to art school, and I had to do that no matter how much work it took. I didn't see the point going anywhere but somewhere in central London.'
Poor Katie. She had worked her Fiorucci socks off to get into the college only to find it wasn't worth the effort, in her opinion. And then she met Rankin. 'We were spending a lot of time together, so I suppose it made sense to start sleeping with each other. I don't think it ever really worked. I was 23. It was quite funny. He's terribly charismatic.'
So she quit college before her final year, and, with financial assistance from her dad, as well as her earnings from a wool shop, where, as an avid knitter, she enjoyed discussing the merits of Kaffe Fassett patterns with fellow enthusiasts, she went to work on Dazed . 'We were quite blinded by our belief about what this thing could be. There was one year when we only actually put two issues out, but we were still saying we were a monthly magazine. We were quite led away by our own hype and we would have fly posters everywhere.'
By the mid-nineties, the magazine had established its own niche, with a slightly bigger office in Brewer Street, Soho. 'Bands such as Oasis had come along. It felt like there was something quite exciting going on in London - like Damien Hirst. It all sounds like such clichés in retrospect, but there was such a scene to report on and be a part of.'
As Rankin's career took off, Grand's fashion styling grew with it. She began to work for other publications, like Dazed's arch rival, the Face, and in 1999, she left. Things had already soured between her and Rankin. She threw him out of her flat the night before they were due to go on a trip to LA to photograph Kylie Minogue. 'We weren't professional at all. We were really rude and obnoxious and he carried on that behaviour with me until I left,' she recalls. 'It was really unpleasant.' These days, however, the two are the best of friends and Rankin is referred to as Pop 's favourite photographer.
Although she hasn't achieved her teenage ambition to edit Vogue, Grand has in a way, gone one better. She is the editor-in-chief of her own magazine. The idea was to make Pop a sister magazine to the Face. 'I didn't see any point talking about things I didn't know about, which is why Stella and Luella ended up being on the cover. They were my friends and that made sense. I don't see the point of working with people you don't get on with or you wouldn't choose to see socially.'
Grand is as fanatical about fashion as she ever was, and nothing if not determined. 'I'm probably worse now than I was five years ago. I stopped drinking. Up to the age of 30 I was out all the time. I've become much more motivated the older I've got. I'm probably more ambitious now.' She lives with her boyfriend, Steve Mackey, from Pulp, in a house in north London. She has two cars - a sensible Fiesta and a flashy vintage Ford Mustang.
Despite the fact that Pop is selling well and the advertisers love it (not least because they can be sure that they will be given some glowing editorial in return), the magazine is not going to make her or its publisher, Emap, rich. Her consultancies and ad campaigns will; but Grand insists it is not about money. 'I don't think I've ever been motivated by money. Obviously it's something that has come along later. I've ended up doing what I do because I like doing it.'
So does she really still want to be doing this when she is 80? Surely at some stage, the shine wears off the Prada shoes and the glossy paper. But Grand fixes me with wide eyes and a look of absolute incomprehension. 'I'm not bored with it. I really like what I do. I don't get pissed off with it.' And just in case I hadn't got the message, she says it again: 'I really, really like it. I can't imagine doing anything else.'
I think Katie is such an inspiration and she is very talented love her work.
I still think she will get her wish to edit Vogue one day.
Last edited by Miss Dalloway; 28-08-2007 at 05:47 PM.
flaunt the imperfection
i have to agree with her on working with europeans as compared to americans...
this is FASHION...it's good to have a LAUGH!!!......
i love working with the italians and the brits and even the french...
the americans are a bit too uptight for my personal sensibilities...
i am more like a crazy italian...:p
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."
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