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The London-based stylist and editor on her iconic fashion shoots and staying true to her signature style.

Interview by Jane McFarland.
Photographs by Jasper Clarke.

CURRENT/ELLIOTT | The Oversized Trucker denim jacket | SHOP CURRENT/ELLIOTT

‘I took that picture of Chloë [Sevigny] in 10 minutes,’ recalls Bay Garnett. ‘She was in New York for literally half an hour – God, love her – so we did it in 10 minutes. And that’s what I like doing. Bam, bam – what you see is what you get.’ The picture in question is the cover of Fanpages, Garnett’s hard-back compilation of one-page fanzines contributed by fashion designers, artists and models. ‘And you can see on the cover,’ she continues, gesturing towards a copy, published by Idea earlier this year. ‘She’s literally just got out of bed. When I went to the apartment, she was in her dressing gown. So I do really like that “homegrown” feel. Who’s in the next issue? I can’t remember now, but I’ve got some good ones.’

Garnett has no trouble when it comes to enlisting ‘good ones’; the London-based stylist counts Stella Tennant, Charlotte Tilbury and Sophie Dahl among her close friends. After co-founding anti-fashion magazine Cheap Date in the 1990s, Garnett officially broke into the fashion industry in 2003 with her first shoot for British Vogue – Kate Moss, shot by Juergen Teller, in vintage clothes sourced by Garnett and Anita Pallenberg. Considered a representation of true British style, Garnett’s sense of individuality marked a seminal shift in the industry, and has been pivotal in shaping her career and unique personal style.

Today she’s an industry stalwart, flitting between styling, consulting, motherhood and now, editing the next edition of Fanpages. It’s a dynamic lifestyle that suits her evolving taste. Easily bored, Garnett jumps from topic to topic, each one more interesting than the last. She’s always in chase of the new. ‘For me it [styling] is only good when it’s done first – before it all comes into fashion. That’s what I’m interested in, that’s what I find challenging. Not challenging exactly, but exciting,’ she muses.

One mainstay, however, is Garnett’s long-term love of leopard print, found in various guises in the north-west London home she shares with her partner, fashion photographer Tom Craig. ‘I just love the print. I did go off it and then I really went off it because it just became everywhere, you know, commonplace, in a way that perhaps it wasn’t before,’ says Garnett. ‘Everyone sort of fell for it. Anita Pallenberg, who I used to spend quite a lot of time with, was really into it. She had these brilliant old Vivienne Westwood cushions from the late 1970s. She had a good thing with leopard that I found quite inspiring; she definitely enhanced my love of leopards. I like it for what it represents when it’s not neutralised, for when it’s this wild cat. You know the way the New York Dolls used to do it – the original Johnny Thunders in leopard. Do you know what I mean? When it was rebellious.’ The Style Report learns more.

On discovering her personal style

‘[Anita Pallenberg] had so much style, but she’d get it all from charity shops. Talk about someone who had her own style. When I came back from New York in 2000, we went thrifting a lot together and I’d go through her wardrobe and we’d talk a lot about clothes from a style point of view. I just learnt so much. I don’t know if it’s the word ‘learnt’ necessarily, but I guess she became like a mentor without even realising it – just by spending time together.’

On juggling kids and work

‘I’ve been quite busy this year. I’ve been away to America a few times and it has been hard. What everybody says about children, and I do believe it, is that what they need is some kind of consistency. At home they’ve got the dog, they’ve got homework. I’ve been out three times this week and I’m going out again tonight. I actually prefer to stay in, but we’ll take them to the cinema and lie in bed together on Saturday. My kids are a bit older now, I think it’s really hard when your kids are younger. They’re 10 and seven, so I can talk to them and say, “Look, I’m really sorry but I am going out again,” or, “I am going away for a few days,” – you can have that conversation. It’s about compensating for when you are not there – but compensating in time and not presents, obviously.’

For me it [styling] is only good when it’s done first – before it all comes into fashion. That’s what I’m interested in.
On her signature maxi skirt

‘I love the way that a maxi skirt looks. I just like the silhouette; it’s become a bit of a signature, I suppose. And I love blazers. I love puffy sleeves. I love sweatshirts. I’m not so into full occasion wear. I appreciate it on other people, but it’s not really me. I only wear flats, like sandals or trainers – I don’t have any heels. When I try to do heels, I just want to hide in the corner of the room, because I know I can’t walk properly in them.’

On her most memorable shoots

‘I did a shoot with Glen Luchford years ago with Chloë Sevigny that I really like – with perms and stuff. Also going to Damascus just before the war broke out, for a shoot with Stella Tennant. I loved a shoot I did with Venetia Scott, which was a Victoriana shoot of Georgia May Jagger in a Thomas Hardy kind of way. Another one I really loved was Cindy Crawford’s comeback shoot with Nick Knight in 2005. We wanted to shoot her like a Pirelli calendar so each picture was totally different. She’s actually used one in her book: it’s her with tyres and water in this white, really clingy dress. And then another one of her in a gay nightclub with chains and stuff like that. That was a good one. Nick really did a good job. I could go on and talk about myself for a long time, but I’ll stop.’

The Style Report
The Style Report