This is the second part of an ongoing series that takes a closer look at the lives and careers of top tastemakers in the fashion industry. Aimee Croysdill, stylist to stars like Laura Haddock and Daniel Radcliffe, knows a thing or two about piecing together a red carpet-worthy look. Recently, I had the pleasure of earning Croysdill’s ear to get to know the woman behind Britain’s most striking sartorial vision.
Sarah: Did you always want to be a stylist growing up?
Aimee: I desperately wanted to be a dancer, a ballet dancer. I did it from 3-22. It’s amazing how much dancing has shaped my career as a stylist. I learnt so much about how you move your body, how dressing works for all shapes, the way to pose, the way to stand. I’m forever thankful for the discipline ballet dance has given me.
Sarah: Who were your earliest style inspirations?
Aimee: My ballet teacher was and is. She was always immaculate; the way she held her head, her posture, everything was so perfectly put together. Having someone to look up to during your most formative years, who’s known you since a little girl, is hugely inspiring. Ballet teachers have this mystique about them, makes you realise style isn’t just about the clothes you wear. She was so strict with how we tied our ballet shoes, our hair. It gave me a real insight into the discipline of certain forms of art and how it transpires into how I do my work.
Sarah: Is there a roadmap to success as a stylist?
Aimee: I don’t necessarily think there’s a formula. Each week is completely different, different clients, all these twists and turns. My journey started off, I was actually at university, and celebrity styling wasn’t quite as worldly publicised as a career path so it hadn’t even crossed my mind. A friend needed some help with the art department on a film and here is where I met the costume designers who worked with Rihanna at the time. When the film finished they asked me to come work with them in between lectures and handing in dissertations. And that’s how it started. After awhile I started getting my own clients and it just evolved from there.
Sarah: How do you go about styling a new client? What questions do you like to ask them?
Aimee: Styling is a really collaborative process. It is all about bringing out their personality and their unique style qualities. I really like to get to know a person before I style them. It’s important to have a face-to-face conversation and get a feel for what makes them feel confident. Do they like a feminine aesthetic or a stronger, more masculine one? If they go for feminine, do they like frills or soft fabric? Tailoring or simple, clean lines? Do they want to have a fashion moment or stay more understated? Those sorts of questions set the tone and then we get deeper into it. That’s normally how it goes.
Sarah: Have you ever had any styling moments that went awry?
Aimee: You know it’s so funny because I get asked this question a lot. I genuinely think my brain is wired to forget (laughs). There was one occasion where I was steaming a dress an hour before the client had to get dressed and leave. As you may know, we use samples so the garments could’ve been worn on a photo shoot prior to using. All of a sudden it began to emit this awful smell. The steam was heating up what probably was sweat from the dress having been worn before. All I could think was, there’s no way my client can wear this so I secretly started to wash it in the hotel sink then got all spare hands on deck with hair dryers to dry it in time (the client had no idea!).
Sarah: The top 3 looks you’re most proud of?
Aimee: This is really hard. But I think the first is my client Laura Haddock, who wore Giambattista Valli couture to the premiere of Transformers in China. I also loved Sally Hawkins for the Oscars in 2014 where we did an exclusive Valentino couture look. We had the same tailor who flew from the atelier in Milan to London then met us in LA. Sally’s dress was completely encrusted in gold thread, pearls and crystallization…it was so heavy! Another would be Dina Asher-Smith at The British Fashion Awards last year. We styled her in a Dilara Findikoglu dress, which was this off-the-shoulder big baby blue puffball design.
Sarah: Do you have any red-carpet style hacks up your sleeve?
Aimee: If I did, I would put my tailor in my pocket everywhere I go. The tailoring is super super important. I think that’s my go-to trick, my tailor. I’ve worked with this amazing woman named Bernie for the last 7-8 years. My clients and I trust her, she’s honest and doesn’t miss a trick. It’s nice to have a second opinion in the room that can look at the finite details and see how a dress can transform from great to flawless. Also, having a needle threaded and ready to go to just in case anything needs nipping is important. As are underpinnings and tape for quick fixes.
S: How do you go about discovering new designers?
Aimee: There’s a website called Tagwalk, and it’s basically like a Google Search engine but for fashion. You can type in a colour or description and it shows you every dress on the catwalk that matches that brief. It also supports new designers so it’s a great research tool too. Tagwalk was launched by a fashion assistant, Alexandra Van Houtte, who was so fed up with spending hours searching for specifics like ‘red dresses’ and decided, there’s got to be a better way than scrolling through hours of catwalk shows to find every red dress from that season. It’s a really great site, even if you don’t work in fashion.
Sarah: Lastly, what advice would you give to women (or men) looking to break into the styling profession?
Aimee: Timing is so important. You can’t guess when is the right timing. I always say to aspiring stylists: if you email one day and you don’t get a response, keep emailing that same person. I had one girl email me repeatedly. Then, one day her third email popped up at the top of my inbox just when I was really under it and needed more hands. She came in the next day and we’ve worked together a few times now. I always say: just persevere. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again, and one day, everything will just fall into place.
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