Fashion Stylist Interview Feature.
Editorial / Futur
We speak to London-based fashion stylist Christobelle Batchelor about her collaborations with photographer Katie Blench in the vibrant editorials, FUTUR and Venus & Adonis. Exploring colour, texture and experimental post-production effects, Christobelle combines cultures, nostalgia and fantasy to create iconic imagery.
Where are you based?
London, United Kingdom.
Tell us about you, Christobelle!
I grew up between Reading and London as a child but I spent the majority of my teenage years in West Sussex as I went to boarding school from the age of 11. I think this was where I inadvertently started prepping for life as a Stylist, constantly packing and unpacking my life into suitcases (full of accessories, jewellery, shoes and clothes for those all-important times out of uniform). I definitely took any opportunity to make the Tudor uniform as high fashion as was physically possible! Never one for travelling light, I have always had an insane amount of clothes. I loved to turn clothing on its head; encouraging my friends to wear shirts as dresses, boob tubes as skirts, ribbons as chokers - key 00’s looks for school discos! I relished any opportunity to dress up and I couldn’t initially believe that you could get paid to dress people. I’ve always had an innate sense of putting things together in juxtaposition – clashing colours with aggressive jewellery or oversized shirts with killer heels. I think it comes from never wanting be like anyone else, it’s my form of expression. You can tell if I’m happy, angry or sad just by what colours, decade or reference I am channelling on the day.
Where did you study or train to become a fashion stylist?
I actually studied languages at University. After a rather hairy experience in Russia during my year abroad, I decided to really take stock of my life and what I actually wanted to do with it. I think it’s very easy to get swept away in wave of thinking about what your parent’s expect, what you think you should be doing, comparing yourself to siblings. When in actual fact, all that matters is what YOU want to do. Rather than spending time studying to be a fashion stylist, I thought that work experience was going to be far more beneficial. So I started assisting freelance stylists and working as Fashion Assistant at TWENTY6 Magazine. I think having a desire to be a stylist is one thing, but on-the-job experience cannot be taught. It allows you to learn from the best in the business and also teaches you a professionalism which is really important. It was really jumping into the deep-end, but the intensity of it means you learn so much. From sourcing clothes, prepping jobs from brief to shoot, assisting on set, press days and fashion weeks. My experience assisting has genuinely taught me so much and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Tell us about your work.
My portfolio features a wide range of editorials from urban sportswear, gothic to super girly. I would say that although the vibes of the shoots are all very different, there is a very individual thread. This includes distinctive accessories with lots of layering and clashing colour - which is my definitive style. I think it’s important that whatever you are working on you still have your style imprinted on it in an underlying way. Depending on the brief, I like to do two shoots a month. I put a lot of effort into making the concept 100% right and I would rather spend a lot of time prepping for a shoot that I really believe in and be proud to have in my portfolio then a super quick job that doesn’t really reflect my styling abilities. I really like to tell a story visually through my work and I think that shows throughout my portfolio. I work on a mixture of my own jobs, including working for Solis Magazine, LFW, Hit The Floor & I Honestly Think Magazine alongside some more commercial projects for music artists.
What do you love about fashion styling?
Styling for me is all about combining cultures, nostalgia and fantasy to create an iconic image. I love the creative freedom that styling allows me to have with an idea that can stem from music lyrics, books, art or even someone that I have met. This can then be translated, with the input of other creative minds (from designers, hair, make up artists and photographers) and brought to life. I love that you can really create a whole new take on a simple concept such as the colour pink and really nurture it with items of clothing. Some people think that clothes don’t matter and it’s just fleeting trends and endless posturing but really all of us are stylists. Dressing every day you choose how you are being perceived by the world something which is really empowering. Fashion is almost a form of visual psychology. You can create this whole character of yourself as sweet with a naughty side just by wearing a cute pink dress with a bow and accessorising with aggressive jewellery or shoes to have that extra twist. For me, styling is an expression of life. It’s looking at things in a different way, the unexpected and the freedom.
Which other fashion stylists and creatives do you look to for inspiration? What other sources of inspiration do you use for ideas?
I love Edward Enninful, Karl Templer and Carine Roitfeld’s work. They have really brought styling out from behind the closed doors of the fashion industry. They have shown the world how much creativity is really behind the pages of fashion magazines and iconic campaigns. Stylists are image-makers and really direct the way in which fashion is translated into everyday life. People look at the pages of a fashion magazine or music videos and sometimes think that this is an unattainable fantasy. Really, what you are looking at is a way to truly express yourself through clothing. Life would be pretty boring without being able to dream! I often use music, books, art as a source of inspiration. I think these art forms are all interlinked as they all influence each other. The trend for 90s fashion has brought back the rival of garage influenced music. I always use the girl unknowingly passing on the street or someone I have previously met as reference for that ‘what would she/he wear’ moment. There is nothing more inspiring than fashion in real time.
Which editorial or series of work is featuring in Carnival Magazine ISSUE 03?
FUTUR / Venus & Adonis
Tell us about the featured series. (FUTUR)
Natasha Cannell (MUA) came up with the concept of FUTUR and she found the perfect model Zarah Kofler on Instagram. The idea was for the model to look like she had just arrived from out of space, really futuristic – ‘high fashion alien.’ I was inspired by lots of metallic and strong geometric shapes so these were my starting point for styling refs. I wanted Zarah Kofler to look like she had just landed from outer space. Her high-fashion look was perfect for this. I then made a list of designers who I thought would work really well. I always try to be really specific about clothing that I am calling in, as I always want to have strong looks that are not similar to each other. The fashion designers which really worked for this included clothing by Violetta Onishchenko (knitted pieces which were great for layering), Mariapia Mineo (really structured and textured pieces) and Louise Korner (with very geometric pieces with delicate textures). Rochaele Siobhan provided cut-out pieces which really added to the futuristic feel, alongside Natalie Bouloux’s very futuristic barberella type swimwear. The shoot also included incredibly textured pieced by Rein London and metallics by Gemma Goldstone. The featured accessories included really strong armour like leather pieces Virginia Walker and high-fashion alien vibes in accessories from ARIEL.C by SIHUA ARIEL CHEN. We also used the leather pieces of CNW Designs (including a mask and rucksack) and Riina O (beautiful gloves which added another texture to the look). The series included jewellery by Haniko (beautiful collar), Belles Bejewelled (geometric shaped jewellery) and Sole Christine (more delicate pieces). Ashanti Lou provided intricate metallic footwear. I always like to have a special something that I layer or accessorise with to add a new dimension to even a simple look. When I am putting my looks together I like to make a big statement that combines the designer’s best pieces. As a team, we always like to contribute to all the elements and all add images to our Pinterest - which really makes it a team effort. Natasha’s make up was similarly very futuristic and had lots of metallic tones. Suze Smethurst worked on hair and she used our amazing model’s super long hair to produce a futuristic take on plaits. Katie Blench, our photographer, then began to think of locations that were suitably futuristic. We decided to shoot in and around the Gherkin and within the financial district around Liverpool Street. This really added another dimension to the shoot. I think our models strong poses brightened up an otherwise dreary day for the bankers!
Tell us about the featured series. (Venus & Adonis)
The myth of Venus (the goddess of love) seducing Adonis (the most beautiful man on earth) was my inspiration for this shoot. I wanted it to reflect the power play between women and men when desire and lust first catches us. I imagined her as a metallic goddess with ethereal undertones. For her partner, we used lots of armour style clothing coupled with effeminate touches. I wanted it to look juxtaposed with quite a gritty setting which wasn’t too classically romantic, to add another dimension to the shoot. Katie Blench, the photographer, found the perfect location for this. Lucy B (our Venus) was beautifully ethereal complimented by Jack Jones (our Adonis) who added that idealised Greek beauty with a masculine edge. We used a lot of fashion designers that we felt really worked for this concept. For Womenswear we sourced Raine and Bea (soft pieces of goddess style lingerie), HoloHolo Swimwear (structured piece which was a nod to Venus rising from the water as in the myth), Sophie Luck Jones (ethereal pieces which looked like wings on the goddess Venus) and Patricia Bonaldi (beautiful metallic pieces). We also used designs by L.Y.D London (sensual dress with floral detail at the bottom). For Menswear, we sourced clothing by Eusebio Demetria (an intricate leather piece), Koli Fashion (netted strong pieces,) All Saints (simple structured pieces) and Klara Hulten (armour style harness). For accessories, we showcased pieced by Tiger Punk (feathered headdress), Stephanie Szumlakowski (metallic mask and an amazing shoulder piece) and Leah Bowen (strong cuffs and leather pieces) The jewellery used in this shoot was by Nina van Houten (delicate metallic pieces), Balilla Accessories (strong pieces including a harnesses), Faye Marie Jewellery (roman inspired jewellery) and Saloukee (natural looking pieces which added to the goddess/human aspect). The footwear used was a combination of designs by Liam Fahy (metallic strong heels) and Mo saique (beautiful sandals with a tie up detail). Brooke Simons, our MUA really took this look to another level with her beautiful plum tones and glitter, which made Lucy B look like she really had just incarnated on earth. For Jack, we created really strong cheekbone definition was key and really complimented each other. Suze Smethurst (Hair Stylist) did a great job in taming Jack Jones’ naturally curly hair, which added to the strength of his character. For Lucy B she created a wet look with glitter on the roots - which again created the feel that Venus had literally just risen up from the water in order to ensnare her man.
FASHION STYLIST / Christobelle Batchelor
PHOTOGRAPHY / Katie Blench
STYLING ASSISTANTS / Joan Lawani & Shukran Murabet
MUA / Natasha Cannell
HAIR / Suze Smethurst
MODEL / Zarah Kofler
Virginia Walker, Violette Onishchenko, Rochaele Siobhan, Natalie Bouloux, Ashanti Lou, Riina O, ARIEL.C by Sihua Ariel Chen, Haniko, Belles Bejewelled, Mariapia Mineo, Louise Korner, CNW Designs, Rein London, Gemma Goldstone, Sole Christine, Violetta Onishchenko (See Full Wardrobe Credits in Issue 03)