This season’s Guest Editor, Laura Fantacci, has had an impressive career in the fashion industry to date. Her achievements include working as Fashion Editor at Red Magazine, launching a successful personal blog; Wearing It Today, and most recently co-founding digital magazine and shopping destination, Wardrobe Icons. We asked her to style her favourite picks from the SS17 womenswear collection and quizzed her on background in fashion as well how she defines her personal style.
We invite fashion editor and industry insider, Laura Fantacci, to edit and style her SS17 picks in a way that reflects her personal aesthetic
"my days are just as important as my evenings so what I wear matters just as much."
What was your first job in fashion?
It wasn’t a very glamorous one. I was laying out chairs at Fashion Week. At the time, Fashion Week was still being run by a really small company that did everything for every show. There were only two tents so shows were held one at a time which meant that we were changing chair arrangements every hour. There wasn’t a huge amount of production cost involved at the time so designers could really splash out on the small things… like chairs. I remember Matthew Williamson chose gold-coloured chairs for his front two rows. It was a work experience position but it made me realise that the job that I went on to do existed. I was training to be a fashion designer at the time and it just wasn’t for me – I hated it. After this, I knew could work in fashion without designing clothes, and that I could be an editor.
Did you always know you wanted a career in fashion?
Yes. Even as a little girl, the game that I enjoyed playing the most with my sister was dressing up. I used to take photos on my disposable Kodak camera and I loved it. My mother also worked in fashion so I guess I was exposed to it from a very young age. She had a lingerie and nightwear company in the 1980s and I remember going to her studio and being in awe of it all; the silks, the beading, the shapes. You could almost say that my interest was hereditary.
What does your personal style say about you?
My style is quite classic. I wear staples but always with something little bit feminine or a little bit glitzy for want of a better word. There’s nothing I like more than a basic tee and jeans but a GOOD tee and a GOOD pair of jeans. I find that as soon as you adopt this fuss-free philosophy, getting dressed in the morning becomes so much more effortless. I look for comfortable, easy-to-wear clothes by brands who understand what women want. If you build a personal collection of good quality, premium staples, you’ll always look good in what you wear.
"BY adding a statement piece of tailoring you can make a downtime look quite impactful."
What do you look for in a brand and a collection?
I don’t really have a favourite brand per-se and I tend to go with the flow from season to season. I want pieces that I don’t feel are too precious and that I can wear every day and I like to be able to mix and match items. Today for example, I’m wearing a bright red knit in a classic crew-neck silhouette with jeans and leopard-print pumps. When I’m shopping, I always ask myself whether the item is something that I’d want to wear again, and the money that I’m prepared to spend is aligned with that question. I don’t mind spending a lot of money if I know it’s on something that I will get a lot of wear out of.
How has your taste and style altered over time?
My style has definitely become more pared-back since living in the U.K. and I think I have adopted a much more relaxed (and somewhat less glamorous) look that I once wore when in Italy. Perhaps if I had stayed there things would have been different? Effortlessness is something that I aspire to. I like that look. When I was in my 20’s things were different, though. There would be a huge difference between how I dressed for day and how I dressed for evening but now, my days are just as important as my evenings so what I wear matters just as much. Day dresses are something that I could do with more of, but they should be classics that I know I won’t get bored of. I also know now to buy things that suit my shape which I guess means I have a sort of uniform when it comes to cuts and shapes. I know that these pieces will work on my body forever.
What is the most memorable moment of your career to date?
I have three. The first time that I ever saw my name in print was a huge deal for me. I was the assistant on a shoot for Tatler when it was run by Isabella Blow and I had my name listed in the credits as such. I still have a copy of the magazine now.
My first ever reader event for my blog, Wearing It Today was also very memorable. At the time, blogging was a relatively new concept and bloggers didn’t tend to ‘do’ events. It was also when I realised that going out on my own was worth leaving a full time job for. Back then, magazines didn’t really take advantage of the fact that editors were making an independent profile for themselves and as this was an event for myself and not for the magazine, they didn’t like it. It pushed me to take the leap and go it on my own.
More recently, the launch of Wardrobe Icons was something I’ll never forget career-wise. I interviewed Jenna Lyons which, in this industry, is instant kudos, so it felt really special.
"My style is quite classic. I wear staples but always with something little bit feminine"
What is the best piece of advice that anyone ever gave you?
When I started working at Red Magazine my boss, Nicola Rose, was the Fashion Director at the time and there’s one particular shoot that I remember prepping for. She showed me how to style things in a more pared-back way, just by making a couple of changes. She changed a heel to a flat shoe and added a denim jacket or a more casual piece here and there and the whole edit started looking instantly more effortless. In quite a decisive manner, she showed me the ‘Red’ way which I think is something that has stayed with me and it’s something that I apply to Wardrobe Icons still today. When I’m putting a page together try to take a step back from over-styling. I try to constantly think ‘pared back’ because that’s the way that I want to dress and I believe that that’s the way that real women want to dress. From a managerial point of view she was also great. She always listened to her team and every time there was an opportunity to give a compliment, she gave one. When you have people working for you, you have to make sure that everyone always feels fulfilled and recognised. We have a bigger team now and I really try to keep that in mind. It’s the same when you have children.
The industry has evolved dramatically over the past ten years. Does your heart lie with print media or digital content?
I like the wider reach that digital content gives you. It’s an opportunity. What I do needs an audience which is why I started blogging in the first place. The difference in size of audience is undeniable and with print, the costs involved are unsustainable for a business such as mine. Instagram is so beneficial for us – I’ve even made friends through it. It provides a two-way communication which is great. For example, I recently posted something about feeling tired post-pregnancy and I got over 100 comments from people offering advice. You just can’t get that with print media. On the flip side, it’s still a luxury to sit back on holiday and read a magazine, so I can’t really pick one or the other. I have such respect for editors working in print now.
How do you feel about the way that social media influences fashion currently?
I personally don’t want to get sucked in more that I already am. With Instagram stories, for example, it’s so easy to feel like you have to report on your entire day and I like the fact that, at the moment, I don’t feel compelled to do that unless I’m doing something that I think people will find genuinely interesting. I have a real Instagram account (which is pretty much just baby spam) and one for my business. You just have to be sure to separate the two and make sure that what you’re posting doesn’t become too much about self-promotion. I’ll always try to stay true to what my message is. I stop feeling interested as soon as I think what someone is posting isn’t authentic.
What inspires you?
Women inspire me, especially since I’ve become a mother. I have a new found respect for all women; women who are mothers, women who work, women who work and are mothers. The comradery in general, I guess. My friends inspire me in different ways as well. I have one who is an amazing cook, one who takes beautiful photographs and one who sets out the most beautiful dinner parties. What I love about Wardrobe Icons is that I can interview people that I have admired for years. There’s a real appreciation of being able to help each other out nowadays. Women have started lifting each other up and I love that.
I also find inspiration in travel. I have an artistic background and naturally I’m a very visual person. Whenever I travel I feel inspired by almost everything around me; local markets, fabrics, architecture… Recently I went to Sicily with my family and there were blue and green ceramics everywhere. Suddenly I really wanted everything in blue and green.
Who are some of the most inspiring women that you have interviewed and who would you love to interview in the future?
I loved speaking to Jenna Lyons when we launched. She graced me with a really long interview which was great – she’s so knowledgeable and interesting. Lucy Yeomans was another impressionable woman in the industry and very interesting to interview. Lyvia Firth, the founder of eco-friendly company, Eco Age was equally as fascinating. She promotes a way of living that I’m really interested in. Charlotte Tilbury was super fun and such a character, but my ultimate goal in life is to interview Gwyneth Paltrow. I’ll really feel like I’ve accomplished something if I can do that.
What one place in the world do you go to disconnect from everyday life?
I go and get a manicure. It sounds so simple but it’s manageable. I don’t really have the luxury of saying ‘I’m going to disconnect’, because you just don’t when you have your own business. I love my job so I choose to be that way and it doesn’t feel like a chore to check in. I have to say, it’s much easier now working with a business partner than it was doing it on my own. We share the joys and the hardships and we take it in turns to do things like Instagram, for example, so I can step away from that if I really want to. We have also both had to give each other the chance to take maternity leave which we wouldn’t have been able to do if we weren’t in it together. When I was pregnant I physically couldn’t work for the most part, so I actually found it somewhat relaxing in a weird way.
What does the future entail?
In the short term, we have a new website launch approaching which is very exciting. Wardrobe Icons was born 3 years ago now so it’s time for a re-vamp. When you start a business, people advise you to do things as nicely as possible on a smaller budget. These days, you can find out almost instantly if there’s a market for what you’re providing so you’ll have a fair idea as to whether or not it will work. If we want to be taken seriously now we need a stronger site. Aside from that, there’s nothing I love more than being on a beach. I’d love to move somewhere warm.