Tag Archives: Xpose Magazine

Interview with Celebrity Fashion Stylist Courtney Smith

Courtney Smith is by far one of the most renowned and well respected stylists in Ireland today. Not only is she in demand in Ireland, she is in demand on an international scale. She has worked with high profile clients such as H&M, Life Magazine and Tommy Hilfiger, just to name a few.

I caught up with the famous fashionista to find out what life is like as a jet setting, celebrity stylist and get some helpful career & styling tips from one of the best women in the business..

You are arguably Ireland’s most in-demand stylists, to what do you attribute your success?

Honestly it’s all down to collaborating with brilliant people and working really hard. I am 7 years freelance this year and I still work 6 days (sometimes 7 days) a week.

You studied fashion design at Sallynoggin College of Further Education and are living proof that PLC courses do lead to successful careers. Do you think it is important to study styling or is it simply a talent that you are born with?

I don’t think it’s important to study it at all. I just never had an interest in doing anything else other than fashion in college. It definitely taught me a lot though, but there are many different ways to learn about fashion and hone your craft. Everyone has different routes to get into fashion and styling.

However, I don’t think it’s really something you can be really ‘taught’, you need to have a creative eye in the first place to make it as a stylist. It’s not just putting a few clothes on someone. I would actually describe my job more as stylist, creative director, creative consultant and pr, because being an editorial and commercial stylist requires all those attributes to do it successfully.

If I could turn back time I would have tried to maybe do a business or entrepreneur type of course because that’s what I struggled with most at the beginning of my career, running a business was completely new to me and I really had to teach myself the ins and outs of business, including things like invoicing, tax returns, bookkeeping etc etc.

Describe a typical day in the life of Courtney Smith:

It really doesn’t exist. I always get asked this question and my answer is always the same.

The only routine I have is that I get up at around 5.45am and head to the gym.

I’m usually set for my day at 7.30/8am and could be on my computer replying to emails or creating mood boards for clients, researching shoot ideas, looking at model portfolios for shoots or jobs, I could be on location on a photoshoot, I could be attending a fashion show or press event, I could be travelling to London for meetings or press events, I could be abroad on photoshoots, I could be in meetings and viewings all day, I could be casting models, I might be filming for Xpose or Ireland AM, I could be pulling clothes for a shoot or returning clothes, writing credit lists for magazines, the list is pretty varied and usually a combination of a lot of the above.

What do you think the biggest fashion trends will be this Summer? 

White lace and Summer suedes are the biggest trends to look out for this summer, as seen at Chloe, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Roberto Cavalli.

Do you think Ireland is becoming a more stylish/fashion forward country?

Absolutely, the more international brands that come over here and open shops the more options we have clothing wise. It’s opening up people’s eyes to new styles and brands and therefore we are becoming more conscious about what we dress like.

Which project has been your favorite to style?

 That’s like asking a mom to choose a favourite child! Every shoot holds a special place in my heart, one of my most recent ones which was featured in Hunger and Life magazine.

It was a creative collaboration between myself and Lee Malone and I adore it because it’s a little different in comparison to other shoots I have done.

Where are your favorite places to shop in Ireland?

I adore boutiques like Folkster, Havana, Costume, Divine; also Brown Thomas for the cute french labels and for highstreet it has to be H&M and River Island.

What key pieces should every woman have in her wardrobe? 

 Denim shirt, great fitting pair of jeans, statement go-to heels, ankle boots, oversized white shirt, classic jumpsuit.

(And if you are like me, some killer vintage jackets and kimonos.)

What fashion trends do you wish would go away/have never existed?

Culottes! Never have and never will get them!

What is your advice to budding stylists, who want to get their foot in the door of such a competitive industry?

Put your head down and work hard. It’s a tougher industry than ever before. You’re only as good as the work you put out there so continue to do test shoots with up and coming photographers and hair & makeup and really hone your skills as a stylist.

Follow Courtney on Twitter & Instagram @CocoSmithStyle

Photographs courtesy of Lili Forberg

Ireland’s Up & Coming Fashion Illustrator, Holly Shortall!

This week I caught up with a woman whom I consider to one of the biggest rising stars in the Irish Fashion Industry, Holly Shortall. Holly is a talented freelance fashion illustrator from Dublin, with her own unique style and passion for her art. Her art work features monthly in Xpose Magazine and that is just the beginning for Holly. Her talent is undeniable, she’s going to go a long, long way!

Hi Holly! Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

Hi! Well i’m almost 25 (don’t remind me!) and I have been drawing for the best part of my whole life. It was only in mid 2013 that I decided it was now or never with regards to trying to build up a profile and begin a career with fashion illustrations. I am still pinching myself at some of the amazing opportunities i’v been given, notably my live illustrating for the SS14 River Island press day and my monthly illustrations for Xpose magazine.

What sparked your passion for drawing?

Its hard to say, but I do think I’ve always been a little obsessed with celebrities. I loved Paula Yates, Gwen Stefani and Victoria Beckham from a young age. My Grannys friend May used to keep me all her magazine like Hello and Ok, and would have loved pouring over all the photos of peoples weddings and awards ceremonies!

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Have you always been interested in fashion illustration or was it a natural progression for you towards that specific type of art?

Always. I guess I didnt know what avenue I could take and just presumed it was fashion design that I wanted to do. I tried it for a year but it just wasn’t for me. I’m the least mathematical person I know, I literally panic when I see numbers, so finding fashion design had a lot to do with rulers, 90 degree angles and numbers made me put up a mental block, so I found it very difficult!

You do illustrations on commission as well as for fun. Which do you prefer to do personally?

If I was being 100% honest, I love just doodling from my head and designing dresses, but I know all my followers love the celebrity illustrations, so its important I give them what they want! Its also make them more current. Like after the Brits I stayed up a little later than usual to do an illustration of Beyonce, and tweeted it to the designer who made her dress. I woke up the next day to a reply from him thanking me for my illustration and saying it was so cool!

Celebrity illustrations are what I would love to do for a weekly publication like the Sunday Times Style Magazine, another one I’ve been reading since I was small.

Your work has its own unique style. Once you see it you automatically know it’s a Holly Shortall illustration. Is your drawing style intentional or is it purely your own natural style?

Its purely my own style- since I first picked up a pencil, I have only ever drawn on female on an a4 page. I have mountains of drawings from when I was about 4 onwards. I’m so lucky in that my parents have art backgrounds and encouraged me to draw, and also kept all my early stuff.

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What publications do you aspire to feature in?

The obvious one is Vogue! They’ve had illustrated covers over the years, and I can safely say that is my life goal. I do believe anything is possible if you work hard. I’m not saying I think I’m amazing, but the respose so far has exceeded what I ever thought it would, so why not have a dream?! I would like to work for a few different magazines, an Irish one, and American one and a UK one.

I really want to do stuff for a weekly publication like the Sunday Times, they have a celebrity characteristic, who signs his pictures ‘Gary’ and I’ve been obsessed with his stuff since I could open a paper. He can nail a portrait in a few lines and you know exactly who it is- I just love that and would love be doing something similar.

You draw a lot of celebrity inspired illustrations, who has been your favourite to draw so far?

I loved drawing Anna Wintour sitting on the front row, Victoria Beckham, The Olsen Twins and of course Beyonce. I really just love drawing!

How long does it take you to draw a single illustration? Can you explain the process?

It really depends and I cant give away all my secrets! But I will say ALOT of time goes into them. For example, if I am doing a commission of someone and specify an outfit featuring a pattern or print, I then have to try source that print or closest match to use when colouring in the picture. I t can be really time consuming but its so important to me that the customer adores their illustration, its a one off unique gift and when I hear people say ‘Wow I love it!’ it just makes me so happy!

What are your goals for 2014

I would love to continue having my work featured in different publications and keep doing my commisions for all my lovely customers. Right now I’m really just know in Dublin so I would love to branch out in Ireland and of course across to the UK is well. I’m a real homebird and don’t see myself living anywhere than here, so the absolute joy of illustration is you don’t have to go anywhere else to do it!

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