EFM will be closing out the year of 2010 with an interview from personal stylist, fashion consultant, and senior fashion editor at one of the UK’s most read fashion magazine, Marie Claire. Beginning in her late teens as a model, Arabella always had the desire to have a long lasting career in the fashion industry. Arabella decided to finish her modelling career at the age of twenty one to pursue a career in fashion magazines.  “Everyone who started in fashion then started in PR,” says Arabella.  After a Secretarial course and she started working at SKY magazine as Office Manager. Then went to Whistles as PR assistant for six months, “I was really bad at PR,” she said, with a laugh.  “I wanted to be on the shoot not sending out the clothes for it.”  In her early twenties Arabella moved to New York for three years and worked as a freelance assistant assisting, a number of different stylists and editors. She describes her experience in New York as “an amazing place to work and a melting pot of talented people from around the world.”  After that she went back to London and worked at Vogue UK as the assistant to the fashion editor.  Then moved on to work as the fashion coordinator for Tatler magazine.

 Arabella has enjoyed fashion since she was a child. “I would make clothes for my sister, put makeup on her and dress her up. I remember buying my first copy of Just 17 magazine; it came free with a music magazine called Smash Hits. I loved it. That’s when I knew I wanted to work in magazines and in fashion.” The career teacher at school told her that she would have to become as a fashion journalist, but I knew I didn't want to write. Or, become a fashion designer.”  Arabella decided to take an art foundation course at Wimbledon Art College during which I started modelling.  While modelling Arabella saw that there were other opportunities within the fashion industry such as becoming a stylist or a fashion editor. Arabella saw jobs, “which I didn't know existed before.”

She started as the junior fashion editor, shooting the 101 Ideas Section. Producing 40 images a month. “I went on trips and would produce two stories at a time shooting 80 pictures in eight days. We were all quite young and a new team but we had such a great time. I didn't have an assistant, so I was literally doing everything, production, styling, editing film, credits, steaming. It was an amazing, but exhausting two years of my life and a huge learning curve.”  After hard work and dedication, she is now a senior fashion editor at Marie Claire UK. 

Arabella tells me how working for Marie Claire UK came about. “I was approached by the then fashion director, Sarah Walter, about the job. I had just left Tatler and I was doing some freelance styling at the time “I was very lucky,” she says.

With more than thirteen years of working at Marie Claire, it can become hard to reminisce about your favorite shoots; “it's really weird,” Arabella said to me. “You do a story, and you love it at that moment, but then when the issue comes out you’re kind of over it already'.  There are some stories that I go back and think 'that was a really good shoot', sometimes it’s to do with the memories from that particular trip or team you were working with;” says Arabella.

Arabella feels that it is important for someone who wants to work in the industry to train under an established stylist as this can help build up really good contacts. “Also, it's good to assist quite a number of people as it's important to see how different people work and how they style, or even how they edit a page.” Arabella adds that it's very interesting to see how people all respond to each other on a photo-shoot and the relationship between the editor and photographer.”

Arabella says that her personal style has changed over the years as she has become older.  “I used to be a little more girly, which sometimes doesn't work so well now.” Arabella describes her style as classic with a twist to it. “I have red hair so I tend to stick to a more neutral color palatte.”

 Arabella tells me what she loves the most about her job. “It's lots of different things. One of the things I enjoy the most is working with a great team on a shoot creating fabulous pictures.”

Arabella is one of those individuals who has worked with lots of different people on work experience at the magazine.  “There are a lot of people working in the fashion industry who have all got their jobs through doing work experience initially.”  She stresses that, it is not easy to get a job in the fashion industry, “especially when jobs are getting fewer and fewer. The more experience you get working in the industry and on different magazines the more people will know about you and talk about you.  People will recommend you.” Arabella says all the editors talk to each other and ask for recommendations for good work experience. There are a lot of people that come through the industry, but not all of them really stand out. “Making yourself known, but without being too pushy, it is quite a fine line.  Also, you have to know that you are doing it for the love of fashion, not for the money;” says Arabella.

Finishing up our phone interview, the senior editor asks me; if there's a difference between other editors, whom I have interviewed globally. I responded; “in my experience interviewing fashion editors, New York and London seems to be the most difficult.  So far, EFM has been very fortunate to interview editors from some of the most iconic magazines.”  Arabella says to me, “London is a hard place.  When I was in New York; if you would say, 'I can do this and this; their response would be 'ok come in, if you prove yourself and work hard we will give you a chance'.  London is very, very closed;” says Arabella. “It's more like, 'who do you know', 'what are your contacts'.  It's very hard in the industry here and very different.  We're much more youth based than America and we want everything to be kind of cool and trendy.”

Click image to view Arabella's work

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