We are lucky to meet and work with a wide range of creative people and businesses. In the first of a new series of 3rdSpace Interviews we speak to London-based stylist, Anna Berkeley – about why she loves doing her job, unexpected sources of inspiration and the importance of real shopping experiences vs online buying.
How do you summarise what you do, what is your background?
I call myself a style consultant. I was a fashion buyer for a long time – it was very glamorous, very stressful and long hours. When starting a family I decided it wasn’t going to work for me. I decided to re-train at that point and styling really appealed to me, keeping my hands on the products and working with lots of new people. I built it up really slowly, but it’s been amazing and things have really gained pace the last few years.
Anna in her Modular garden office
What is the best part of your job?
There are so many best parts, it’s really hard to pin down. Honestly, I love every part of the job. It’s the mix of meeting lots of different people, all with individual reasons to come and see me – and you can make such a big impact in a really short time. Helping them feel good is really rewarding – and I get to play with clothes and shop with other people’s money in the process!
Do you rely more on instinct or method in your process?
It depends what you’re doing, for instance if I’m taking someone shopping, I will plan it methodically, I will look at their style and think about where I might be able to push them beyond what they are used to. One of the biggest things I do is Body Mapping which is a system of looking at a body shape and breaking it down into sections – it’s quite a technical system based on styling theory. Buying is very instinctive – you know the right thing when you see it.
Part of the process; fashion inspiration boards
Do you ever find inspiration in unexpected places?
All of the time, yes. We took the kids inter-railing this year, it was amazing, and we went to lots of European cities we hadn’t visited before – I find colour mix and texture inspiration everywhere. Combinations in architecture and nature can spark ideas for putting things together in a different way. I loved Austria where their National dress, the dirndl, has so many variations. I find it absolutely fascinating – from the really traditional to completely individual, modern takes on it.
Colour and texture are key to Anna’s work
Can you tell us a little about your workspace, here in the studio?
My studio is a place to work and where my clients can see me (away from the house). For me, the biggest thing, apart from the fact that it’s utterly beautiful, is the walk from the house to here – I’m so productive in here compared to sitting amongst the laundry in the spare room! I love being in here at night too with the lamps on, when the garden is dark and the house half-lit, it’s just really nice and I get loads done. It’s made a really big difference to the business.
Working with style; inspiration is everywhere
In terms of spaces, do you think there will always be a need for a physical high street shop?
I do, yes. I shop for people online as well as physically, but online is actually quite hard – in the sense that I don’t pick things in the same way. It takes longer without being able to see, pick-up and touch the actual thing. I know there are new things being developed where you can ‘virtually’ touch a fabric or material but we’re not really there yet. There is no substitute for a real shop, it’s still a buzz being in the store where you can access things immediately. Shops will have to work harder – unfortunately ones that don’t evolve will die off quite fast, even well-established brands.
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a stylist?
Start in a shop. I couldn’t imagine a better way to get an insight into the fashion industry. At university I studied History, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. During my degree I worked in TopShop for the summer, and I loved it! You really have to start on the ‘front line’ to get it. Once you see the bigger picture, you can then look at it from other angles. I started in merchandising, and worked in allocation – which is not a glamorous job at all – but you literally see the whole process from the ground up. A lot of what I learned back then is still relevant and useful to my job today.
Anna works from a 2-Bay Modular garden office.
Photography: Beth Davis