10 Questions for Fashion Stylist Amanda Shirreffs
Canadian fashion stylist Amanda Shirreffs has since graduating London College of Fashion, interned alongside Mariano Vicanco and seen her work published in publications such as The Cut and Dazed&Confused. Now she’s aiming for Italian Vogue.
1. How old were you when you became obsessed with wardrobe design?
I think it was always there. I was a very artsy, eclectic child. My Mom really encouraged that by introducing me to the world of the arts at a very young age. I was a competitive ballerina for most of my young adolescence, so wardrobe design was a huge influence & inspiration for me. The elaborate costumes allowed me to transform from a shy little thing into a whole different being.
2. When did you decide “okay, this is it, I’m going to be a professional wardrobe stylist?” Who were some of your mentors or inspirations when you got started?
While attending the London College of Fashion – I had a work placement at the Dolce & Gabanna Showroom where I assisted the sales team during their busy buying season. It was really the catalyst in my career. The team at D&G encouraged me to style the models & sell the looks to the head buyersof every important department store in the EU. They gave me so much freedom & encouragement to hone in on my skills and to flourish as a stylist.
To me, London is the epicenter of inspiration & I’m so grateful for the foundation that I laid there. It was such a freeing time in my life, where I was able to figure out who I was as an artist & where I wanted to be. Throughout the five years spent there – I had a handful of mentors who without their confidence & encouragement, I wouldn’t be on this exciting path. I also had the incredible opportunity to spend the night chatting to Bianca Jagger, who stylistically has always been an inspiration to me. Her strength & unwillingness to waver – really stuck with me. She ignited a fire in me.
3. What were the early days of your career like? Did you have to test a lot in the beginning to build your book?
The early days of my career were kind of terrifying! I was thrown into a huge job when I became a stylist to a rising British singer, Ren Harview. I was working with well-known designers to source or create looks for her performances on the BBC, Later With Jools Holland, Burberry etc. I think both Ren & I were thrown in the deep end together, but we had such a great collaborative & supportive relationship. I’m thankful for that.
When I returned to Toronto I tested a lot. I think it’s really important to in order to grow as an artist & to figure out what direction you want to go in. I went through a season of saying YES to everything, which taught me a very important lesson: How to say NO.
4. Looking back, is there anything you would do differently in your journey as a stylist? Any decisions you made when you were younger you would not make today, knowing what you have learned so far?
No. I don’t think the journey has been a particularly smooth one, but it was exactly what I needed to happen in order to get me to where I am now. So, I’m really grateful. Of course, I would perhaps not put my worth in someone else’s hands again & I say that as an artist, entrepreneur & as a woman. Know your worth, learn how to invoice & never let someone tell you that you’re not ready or too ambitious.
5. How do you communicate with the photographer you’re working with on a shoot to achieve his or her goals?
Communication is key. I think it’s important to be open-minded & to remind yourself that it is a collaborative effort. We all want to produce something that we’re proud of.
6. What skills did you learn early on that you still use today?
I think the most vital skill, especially in this highly intense & chaotic industry, is having a positive attitude & really knowing how to diffuse a situation. Emotions & tensions do run high on set – so it’s important to be the source of confidence & comfort for the artist, or model that you’re styling.
7. Tell us what a dream job is for you?
I think the ultimate dream job would be to style an editorial for Italian Vogue. It’s the least commercial of the Vogue’s & really, the most exciting & inspiring. They go beyond just fashion. I also love that they are always so supportive of upcoming talent. They give an enormous platform to the unknown, which is just so important. I love the well-known brands, but sometimes I’m overseeing the same looks on the cover of every magazine on the newsstand. Italian Vogue incorporates grad collections, unknown designers & artists. It’s another world!
8. What are the three tools in your wardrobe kit that you can never, ever be without?
So hard to narrow it down to three! I would say pins/clips, double-sided tape & tagging gun.
9. What advice for young wardrobe stylists who are just starting out and want to be where you are, at the top of the industry?
I think there is quite a glamorous misconception of what a stylist really does. I’ve worked extremely hard & put in years of doing things for free, because I’m so passionate about this job. So, my initial bit of advice is : you have to have the drive & unwaivering dedication. Paying your dues may take longer than you expect, but it is worth the work – people really take notice.
Once you’re working in the industry – be respectful of your peers. Today’s intern could be tomorrow’s top designer, so never get caught up in any kind of hierchy bullshit. There is this huge delusion that you have to be a mean girl to thrive in the fashion industry, but I don’t buy it. This generation has realized that there’s enough work to go around & we can help each other out.
10. What is your favorite quote?
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol