Isabelle works by coastal, splitting her time between Hamburg, Germany and Stockholm, Sweden.  Her work has been seen in TUSH, Zeit, Squint, ELLE Russia, Paperlanes, and Room Magazine.  Isabelle has worked with German Marie Claire as the Fashion Editor. She is now the Fashion Director for menswear magazine called Feld Hommes.

Exclusively Fashion Magazine: Can you tell me what made you want to become a fashion stylist; and why did you choose this career?

Isabelle Thiry: My cousin is a stylist too..and quite a couple of years older than me, so she took me on shoots and had me assist her from the age of 14..this helped to know more or less what this job would be like when I decided to study fashion design after I graduated from high school. At first, I wanted to become a designer but later on I found it more challenging to create something new out of designers work…

EFM: You have an agent; what advice can you give to a new fashion stylist who's starting out, on how to approach an agent to sign them on?

IT: Don’t approach an agent with only 3 or 4 stories, at least not a top agent. Take your time in making a book and get an opinion on your work from someone in the industry beforehand. Later on your agent will guide you in making your book better and to adjust it to potential clients. This applies if you plan on also making money.  I have my website where I display my work as I  see it, and I give a free hand to my agent to display it to potential clients. Like this it feels one doesn’t get lost in the commercial side of this industry..

EFM: Where do you reside?

IT: I split my time between Hamburg/ Germany and Stockholm/ Sweden.

EFM: Describe your personal style?

IT: I mostly dress in black and pretty much pure and simple…just because it is easy. I have so many looks and stories in my head, that being too pre-occupied with my personal styling would distract me. But of course, it’s not totally random... I like mixing menswear with mostly plain, non-frilly women's wear and I love great quality. My favorite brands for my personal wardrobe ( at the moment) are Acne, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair and Prada menswear.

EFM: How long have you been a fashion stylist?

IT: I started at German Marie Claire as a fashion assistant, then later on  became fashion editor, then moved on to another women's wear magazine called Allegra( they closed it a couple of years back), since then, freelance stylist and fashion director of menswear magazine Feld Hommes. So, all-in-all, about 15 years.

EFM: It has been said, that in order to become a fashion stylist, you have to assist an established fashion stylist, basically with ‘no pay’.  What do you think about that and why is it important to train under an established stylist?

IT: I would say: it helps a lot. For a couple of reasons; First of all this industry is all about name dropping, to the point that even semi-talented people get good editorials and advertising work, just because they assisted someone ‘famous’ and not so much for their actual talent ( that’s the disappointing part) but also you are able to establish contacts to brands, to photographers and their assistants, and all of this on an already high level (that’s the good part).  I would even say that these days it’s very rare that a talented stylist gets very far without having assisted someone established, as its hard to be ‘let’ in.  But I don’t agree with the ‘no pay’ policy. Peoples labor is worth getting paid for, even if it is very little pay.

EFM: Before you launched out on your own, who did you assist, and what did you learn from him/her?

IT: I assisted Florentine Pabst at  German Marie Claire for 2 years. She was pretty big at the time, now she has retired since maybe 10 years.

I did not learn so much from her styling, as I had quite a strong vision of my own already then, but I learned loads on a personal level and on visual esthetics. Especially on how to reach your own; Today I see myself as a fashion editor, not just a stylist. As even on commercial jobs, I try to bring in much more than just the clothes.

EFM: What advice can you give to aspiring fashion stylists?

IT: Don’t think you don’t need to learn something, especially when starting out. As anyway it should be a general challenge in life to never stop wanting to learn. And one can learn things from almost everybody.  Don’ be lazy, work hard!

Don’t let people abuse your labor. It’s ok not to be paid for editorials, but on commercial jobs, everyone makes something, so why shouldn’t you.

Don’t be frustrated, as there will always be someone out there doing a better story eventually. So just keep on going, but don’t copy, stick to your own style and it will be recognized.

Network! This is what will get and keep you going. But be honest and fair; don’t forget about people that helped you. This industry can be quite small, so be reliable.

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Interview by Rochell “E” James


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