Wednesday, 25 March 2015

An Interview with Louise Lace: Stylist & Co-Founder of Norwich Fashion Week

Whilst at the Retailers Catwalk Event last month, kicking off the first night of Norwich Fashion Week, I bumped into the lovely Louise Cleverly-Lace - Local Norwich stylist, editorial photographic stylist and Co-Founder of Norwich Fashion Week. After an evening of Coffee cocktails and chit chat, she kindly agreed to me throwing a few questions at her for an interview here on ES, dishing out her style tips, inspirations and stories of the years behind NFW! But, enough from me...

> We've just had our 6th NFW and the shows seem to be getting bigger every year. How did the idea for such an event in Norwich come about?

NFW was an idea of mine I had dreamt about for many years, in 2008 whilst in an appraisal I mentioned to my boss "why do we not celebrate fashion, arts, culture and business? Norwich is in the top ten shopping destinations, with a fantastic offering of independent stores - which is unusual nowadays - and we have a mix of eccentric fashion from the lanes, to high street stores". We discussed this over many many months and in 2010 NFW was born!! It took a huge amount of man hours to pull together, but it was so totally worth it. Initially it was myself, Anita Vadhir (From Vanilla) and Jayne Raffles (From The Library Restaurant) who collaborated together, with the first show being held at The Library. It seated 100 and I styled the show. It was a mix of high fashion, vintage, minimalism, cultural fashion and The Gallery styled the hair. After such a success Emma Harrowing from Archant publishing covered the show in all local papers, magazines etc, and 'the rest is history', as they say!

> NFW has grown considerably over the years, how did you navigate the challenges, act on opportunities and finally, are you still actively involved in the show? 

There is a whole host of stories I could share with you! When NFW grew and more businesses became involved, we created a board committee and it was wonderful to have this structure. I successfully ran a modelling competition alongside Anita Vadhir, Bex Parramint from Power Models - a huge success not just locally, but also towards Norfolk and Suffolk. We held auditions to find ‘the face’ of NFW and the ethos around the competition was to find unknown, local people, that could be launched into a career of modelling no experience necessary! - we trained the gang to catwalk! Each year at the launch show the winner was announced and we have had great results from the competition - Georgia Butler is now the Top Model UK, Harry Maddision has a wonderful career ahead of him with modelling and blogging, and Jason Scott went onto London! Just to name a few!
When NFW grew it became apparent to me we needed to move venue’s. With amazing contacts at The Forum, I loved the space within the curve. With an industrial feel, I produced 6 launch shows working closely with City College Norwich (one of main priorities throughout was to showcase students, the new generation) and they have been a huge provider throughout the 5 years. I also produced a street style exhibition with the photography students, allowing them to feel and experience a side of fashion that is up and coming, with the media students supplying all the lighting etc. City College Norwich have been instrumental in the workings of NFW.
In 2013 the launch show was taken to the atrium within the Forum enabling, me to seat some 400 guests - this was one of my biggest challenges. Collaborating with 44 models, 12 local fashion stores and jewellers, The Gallery Hair Salon, music, lighting, catwalk and production media teams. The launch show took me some 8 months to plan and produce. Collaborating with Bex from Power models, Vanilla, City College Norwich, The Forum, The Production Bureau - to name a few. But what a huge success! This is the point in where NFW took off! Unfortunately due to work commitments and planning my own wedding, I stood down from the board committee (I needed a break - haha!). My workload became unrealistic. I still fully supported NFW throughout my 2 year break and I am now happy to say I am working with them again! It is wonderful to see how my baby has grown and what NFW is now turning into.

> What is the atmosphere like behind the scenes? 

The behind the scenes is electric, full of excited nervous energy. I would be running on adrenalin! The lead up to the launch show means - NO SLEEP! But, a typical show day would go something like this:
  • 6AM Start.
  • 8AM - Arrive at venues, with the models and hair/makeup stylists arriving shortly after.
  • 12noon to 4PM - Exhibitors are allowed to bring in stock.
  • 6PM - Run through.
  • 7.30PM - Showtime!

> You're now an independent stylist, what does your average day involve? 

Being a freelance style co-ordinator opens up wonderful opportunities, enabling me to show my creative side, depending on my client of the day - be it personal styling, wardrobe re-vamp or styling a photo-shoot. On the whole I do not have an average day - which I feel is a blessing. 
Personal styling would involve a brief with my client (usually 2 weeks prior) as to what they were looking for. I would either shop for them, or we would go together, and within the 'style experience' my clients would learn how to put outfits together, about up and coming fashion trends, what shoes to wear, underwear, and all the other details. 
A wardrobe re-vamp is an exciting way to rejuvenate your existing collection and we’ll look into what’s hot on the fashion scene and how we can transfer to your wardrobe. What to wear according to your lifestyle, as well as style tips and tricks! For all your ‘need to know’ trend knowledge and inspiration. Style is something women think about daily, buying clothes comes natural to us - how  we put them together to create a trend or style is more of a challenge! A typical wardrobe re-vamp would involve a client consultation as I need to gage what the clients needs/wants are, and then we will look at their lifestyle together, what clothes they love or hate, don’t know how to wear or how to put the 'look' together. Cleansing your wardrobe re-lifts the way you look at your outfits and inspires you to make more changes or to take more style risks. Women tend to shop in a varied way - buying different pieces from different stores because ‘they love it’, then once we are home it’s like ''oh how shall I wear that?'' - now that is where I step in. After a wardrobe overhaul clients are left feeling inspired, confident and feel like they will always have something to wear.

As you can tell, styling is a passion of mine and this enthusiasm overflows into every aspect of my work. (My favourite quote is: "Fashion is what we buy, style is what we do with it" - CoCo Chanel.) It is my goal to make fashion and styling accessible to all women regardless of age, body shape or budget.Whether it’s a few small style adjustments or a complete wardrobe do-over, I’ll work closely with them every step of the way. Having worked with some of the best photographers in Norfolk (and continuing to do so) I also work as a freelance photographic stylis. My role would be sourcing the outfits relevant to the brief and pinterest mood board - Pinterest is how photoshoots come together! - enabling all collaborators to understand the look desired. Be it location or studio based, the styling and clothes are my responsibility - from high fashion or fantasy fashion, to bridal. (which may I add has been submitted for publication - watch this space!) I have some exciting photo-shoots lined up this spring - very exciting stuff.

> Are there any favourite blogs, magazines or inspirations that make an appearance in your daily routine?

I adore Stella McCartney, Cèline, Prada, Miu Miu, Whistles, Cos, Topshop, Zara, H & M and Nike, to name a few. I follow all the latest global trends from designers to the high street and the most up an coming style - ‘Street Style’. What I find fascinating is too see how trends and style transpire onto the high street and more importantly into women’s everyday lives, trend influences surround us daily - from art, architecture, social media sites, to our friends who have bought the latest Whistles boyfriend jeans or Prada bag. 
Vogue is my monthly read of choice, Man Repeller is my blog read, and of course - Instagram for instant snaps. The power of instagram is amazing.

> If your wardrobe was on fire (!!) which key 5 pieces would you save and why?

A FIRE?! Oh wow. Well, of course I would want to grab it all. But...
  1. All saints fringed leather jacket
  2. Nike Roshe runs
  3. Whistles Boyfriend jeans
  4. Topshop Neon box pleat midi skirt
  5. Celine white t-shirt
If I'm quick enough, I'd also grab my watch collection!
  1. Komono
  2. Daniel Wellington
  3. 1Face
> Where can we find you on the web?

There are some great projects under way at the moment for me, with my blog launching in April - so you will of course find me there! But until then, I'm on TWITTER INSTAGRAM and of course, Norwich Fashion Week!

Once again, a HUGE thanks to Louise for sharing her insights into the fashion and events industry. I'm eagerly awaiting the launch of her site, so when it goes live I'll be sure to link it up in this post, as well as on my Twitter - so keep 'em peeled! ...


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