As the Fashion and Beauty Assistant for Emirates Woman, my time at work is split between assisting on shoots and writing copy about the latest trends. I enjoy both sides of the job equally, which made it fascinating when I heard renowned lecturer and fashion journalist Paul Tierney was hosting a talk at Fashion Forward Season Three that asked the question Writer vs Stylist –What’s Right For You? Find out what I learned from his insight into both worlds.
Paul is successful London-based journalist with over 25 years of experience in the biz. As well as being a tutor at London College of Fashion, Paul has also written for a plethora of high profile magazines and newspapers including French Vogue, Vogue Hommes, Pop and i-D. He is also the editor-at-large of bi-annual style magazine, Ponystep.
During his talk at Fashion Forward, Paul examined what he believes are two very different sides to the fashion industry – the writers and the stylists – and asked the questions, which side do you want to be on? And, what is right for you?
Paul believes the roles of a writer and a stylist are separate, stating the two don’t work together. He calls it the battle of the “the words vs the clothes”. He advises: “You should decide very early on whether you want to be a writer or a stylist.” If you are a writer, you will be able to “write beautiful sentences that are funny”, and if you are a stylist you should produce “creative, innovative work. It can’t be taught. You’ve either got it or you haven’t”.
Katie Grand, editor-in-chief at Love magazine, agrees with Paul, saying: “If you try to be too many things all at once you won’t shine, concentrate on one thing at a time.”
However, Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large for American Vogue, believes he is the exception to the rule. As a fashion editor he styled and wrote, with great skill in both areas. Sarah Mower, a renowned fashion critic and columnist for publications including American Vogue, said of making it as a stylist: “It’s much more than putting clothes on a model. Being a great stylist is like being a great film director, if you want to make a name, find something a little different.”
Paul then went on to discuss the key points to consider when aspiring to becoming a stylist or writer. If you’re looking to pave a career as a fashion journalist, stylist or both, consider Paul’s notes to success.
STYLIST Paul says: “You must first have the right attitude, drive, focus and motivation to succeed along with the patience to build up a reputation within the industry. You must also be a team player, there is no room for divas. Building a portfolio is key, which should contain lots of polished images that meet industry standards. You must not underestimate the amount of knowledge you need. Remember, networking is a must, along with testing alongside young photographers.”
WRITER Paul says: ” You have got to work to do it, be passionate about it and not be afraid. It’s important to seek out stories and not just rely not the Internet. Be nosy, ask lots of questions all of the time, speak to people you wouldn’t normally speak to, be bold and don’t be shy. It is important to practise and write everyday along with reading other people’s work, it will start to seep in and you will eventually start writing beautiful sentences.”