Knowledge, drive and an explosion of creativity could be some of the many words to describe celebrity stylist Holly Ounstead. Full time stylist to British girl band Little Mix, not to mention a handful of other celebs, Holly has worked with some of the coolest titles in fashion, shooting for Wonderland, Hunger, 1883 magazine and many more. With her popularity growing fast we stole a moment with Holly at her East London office to talk wearing vintage, working with celebrities and why she loves ‘90s fashion.
VH: HOW DID YOU GET INTO CELEBRITY STYLING?
I started as a fashion assistant at 1883 magazine. I had been there for two and half years and became the beauty and fashion editor when I decided to try something new and go freelance. One day I was on a shoot, and it was a complete accident – one of those good accidents – that the photographer’s friend was putting together a new team with the Little Mix girls. He got in touch and I went for 4-5 interviews with Sony and just got thrown into it which was amazing! All the other celebrities I’ve worked with have kind of come off the back of that.
VH: WHY DO YOU LIKE WORKING WITH VINTAGE?
I love working with vintage because it adds a whole other dimension. If you’re trying to create a story or a look you can really enhance what’s happening now with style from the past. The Vintage Heirloom jewellery is amazing for shoots and I use it quite a lot. I think it adds a sense of style, but more than that, a sense of timeless style that creates instant fashion credibility.
VH: WHAT’S KEY TO MIXING VINTAGE WITH AN EVERYDAY WARDROBE?
I would always say a vintage bag, especially Chanel. Fashion moves so fast you can play around with the clothes but the bag should always be a staple investment piece. I always wear black so like to bring in a sense of colour with my handbag in red or pink. I also love vintage rings, I think they can bring a real sense of personality to a look.
VH: HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT TO WEAR?
I think of my schedule 100%. If I’m working with the Little Mix girls I’ll go for a loose fitted trouser, which luckily is big this season. I love my Vince and Kooples Sport trousers because they’re so easy to wear and look great with a simple tennis trainer. If I have meetings I’ll dress my outfit up a little more with a good pair of heels but deep down I’m a real trainers girl. I love my Adidas Originals!
VH: SOMETHING IN YOUR WARDROBE EVERY GIRL SHOULD HAVE…
A good jacket can make any look feel expensive. I have a high shine Kooples one at the moment which I wear all the time. I’d love a vintage Chanel jacket too, they’re so classic and elegant that’s definitely top of my wish list.
VH: WHERE DO YOU GET INSPIRATION FOR YOUR WORK?
The core of all my work is ‘90s. I love it all; the trainers, simple hair and makeup and just the easiness. I don’t like things to look over-styled so I always try and make it on the brink of what is wearable. I like my clients to look like they’ve dressed themselves, which is actually probably harder than making them look styled.
VH: WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE FASHION ERA AND WHY?
Obviously ‘90s! But I also would have loved to live in the ‘20s. I’m not one for dressing up but I think there was a sense of glamour at that time which people have lost now. Even in the ‘50s people used to wear heels to go to the supermarkets!
VH: HOW DO YOU THINK LITTLE MIX’S LOOK HAS EVOLVED?
The girls’ started their career when they were very young so experimenting with fashion played an important role in finding their style and identity. Now they’re in their 20s, they’ve grown up and are women so want to dress like women and feel sexy. They’re really interested in fashion so I always try to give them lots of ideas and tell them what I think they’d like, especially with brands. For example Ashish for Leigh-Anne, Holly Fulton, Burberry and those sort of classic brands for Perry, David Koma for Jessie and then Christopher Kane for Jade.
VH: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MISCONCEPTIONS THAT COME WITH BEING A STYLIST?
I think my friend’s think I shop all day but there’s a lot more that goes into it behind the scenes. You want to find the best pieces for your client so not only do you have to put a lot of research in but also find and keep all the press contacts for each brand. There’s a real element of networking that’s involved.
VH: DO YOU PREFER STYLING PEOPLE OR EDITORIAL?
They’re so different! For editorial you want the expensive high-end pieces like YSL and Louis Vuitton, which you won’t get if you’re not a well known stylist. Whereas with celebrity styling you’re dealing with people and how they feel and that can change on a day-to-day basis. You can have a look ready for an event and it can completely change on the day and then you need to think about the right shoes, certain knickers and a certain bra. You always have to give people a lot of options and if these options need tailoring you have an hour to run out and get them stitched up with can be quite stressful so gaining the client’s trust is key.
VH: WHAT’S THE MOST ENJOYABLE THING ABOUT BEING A STYLIST?
When clients like their looks and feel amazing that’s the best feeling. I love to make people feel like they want to go to the party because of the dress rather than the party itself.
VH: YOUR OFFICE IS ON BRICK LANE, WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT THE AREA?
There’s lots of press teams here, so if I have 24 hours to turn round a look I can run and bang on their doors! There’s some great coffee shops too, I love Franze and Evans for healthy food and they’ve recently opened an Aesop which is dangerous as I’m obsessed with their skincare. Also I live a 15 minute walk away which is key for a stylist and you never know when you’re going to be needed!
Check out Holly’s amazing work.