Stacy London: The Philosopher’s StyleLEFAIR
Most widely recognized as the co-host of TLC’s What Not To Wear, Stacy London is not only a fashion icon and guru, but also what I might call, a “fashion philosopher.” With a philosophy degree from Vassar, where she wrote her senior thesis on the concept of self, drawing from Nietzsche, Thomas Mann and Herman Broch, to landing a job as a fashion editorial assistant at Vogue right out of college, London has a firm grasp on the importance of self-expression, personal style and identity.
MR: You’ve had such a successful career in fashion. What do you think you would be doing if you hadn’t had this career and if you hadn’t pursued fashion?
I would definitely be a philosophy professor, a really well dressed philosophy professor.
MR: How has your philosophy background informed your approach to fashion and style?
I think philosophy and psychology play huge roles in understanding and developing personal style. There’s a deeply rooted sense of identity associated with our style and to overlook it is to miss the bigger picture about self-esteem generally.
MR: How did you get involved in the production of the play “Love, Loss, and What I Wore”? What was that experience like?
Working with Karen Carpenter (director), Nora and Delia Ephron (writers and creators) and Daryl Roth (producer) was one of the highlights of my career. I’m not an actor but this material was all about clothing, our attachment to it and our identity through it, so it was a very natural fit for me.
Daryl is an old family friend and she had emailed me to see if I would come to a performance. And I wrote back asking if I could audition instead. It was probably the ballsiest thing I’ve ever done! I just knew how much it would mean to me. So they auditioned me and I guess I didn’t suck ‘cause I did the rotation for almost 6 weeks, just like the real actors.
Talking about prom dresses, the color black and heels? It was heaven.
MR: What draws people to a career in fashion? What is magnetic about the industry?
Well, I can’t speak for everybody but my initial attraction to the fashion world was out of my own insecurity and wanting to belong in a world that looked perfect. Obviously nothing truly is perfect but the allure of the sparkly and the beautiful for me was about wanting attention, ultimately wanting approval. The funny thing is that it was the fashion industry that led me to do What Not To Wear on TV and that led me to the realization that self-awareness and self-acceptance are the keys to personal style and the fashion industry is an entirely different animal that runs on making you feel like you aren’t enough and the next bag, shoe or dress will make the difference.
MR: Do you have any articles of clothing or accessories that you have an emotional attachment to?
I don’t actually. I think emotional attachment to things generally isn’t healthy, much less clothing. Clinging to things that don’t fit because they remind you of who you used to be are the worst. They hold you back from finding who you are now. I purge my closet at least twice a year. I always find things to get rid of!
MR: How do clothes empower women?
If you know who you are, you know what you want to say to the world about yourself. Clothing is shorthand. Clothing can be a calling card. We make value judgments about people in the first three seconds we encounter them. That’s how our Lizard brain works. Say who you are before you utter a word.
MR: How do you feel and how do you respond when people call the fashion industry “superficial”?
I think there is a difference between fashion and style. Fashion can be superficial. It is an industry that runs on insecurity. Style is about personal expression. Style isn’t about the trends of an industry but about the tastes of an individual expressing who he or she is.
MR: Do you have any advice for women who want a career in styling?
Work your ass off and beg established stylists to mentor you. Work for free in the beginning if you have to. Prove your worth by studying, anticipating, and learning to have your own opinions as you grow.
MR: What keeps you up at night?
The Trump Presidency.
MR: What gets you up in the morning?
My puppy and my boyfriend. They are morning people.