Fashion Stylist Interview Feature
Editorial / Animating Architecture
(Photography by Andre Titcombe)
We speak to stylist and creative director MUNA, based in London. With a strong background in art and art theory, MUNA graduated from Goldsmiths University of London with a BA in History of Art and an MA in Contemporary Art Theory. MUNA has also worked in several art galleries around London including Tate Britain and Modern, The Serpentine Gallery, Christie's, Historic Royal Palaces and South London Gallery.
Where are you based?
London, United Kingdom.
MUNA, tell us about you!
My father is an artist and graphic designer who graduated from Central St Martins. Growing up I was always surrounded by his artwork as well as going on regular trips to galleries. I always new that I would either become an artist myself or do something else in the related art-world. When I was 17, my college tutor sent me to take part in a year long project run by Tate Britain and the British Council. Since then I have continued to work in both Tate Britain and Modern, curating displays and events for young people aged between 15-25. However, while I was on my MA last year I somehow fell into the fashion industry assisting some major stylists on a casual basis. These stylists included Beth Fenton, Katy England, Liz Mendez and my all time favourite Zadrian Smith (Editor- in-Chief of Petrie Inventory). My first job was picking up and delivering underwear to a Vogue photo-shoot! I thought it was hilarious and despite it only being underwear I liked the spontaneous nature of it all, that everyday could be different.
Where did you study or train to become a fashion stylist?
My background is not in fashion so I never trained to become a stylist as such. I'm still very new to this. Everyday is a new learning experience and an opportunity to train my craft. Having said that, I strongly believe that my curatorial background in art galleries and my art theoretical education has provided me with a unique viewpoint and is the main force behind the way I style. My curatorial background taught me not only how to curate a look but to also think about the image as a whole. My art theory background has provided me with a broad range of references to draw from. I believe that my background has given me the skill to make the most out of an image.
Tell us about your work.
When I first began styling, I felt that it was important to let my true style surface naturally without any outside influences. What I mean by this is that I really didn't want to be over-influenced by anyone else's style, or be restricted by a set of guidelines. So I shut myself off from the fashion world slightly. I no longer assisted and I didn't pick up any fashion publications for quite a while. As a result, I believe that my styling has a very strong aesthetic and is very bold and perhaps even risky. I definitely don't like to play it safe and I love combining pieces which you wouldn't normally combine together. From colour, to texture, to the actual design of the garment.
What do you love about fashion styling?
Well I've always had a passion for fashion (as the saying goes), so the thought of combing it with my other passion of curation really appealed to me.
Which other fashion stylists and creatives do you look to for inspiration? What other sources of inspiration do you use for ideas?
I get inspiration from various places but I don't like to limit myself. Some of my shoots have been inspired by the essays I read in university. For example, my first menswear shoot was initially inspired by an essay written by the German Sociologist Georg Simmel 'The Metropolis and Mental Life' (1903). My latest shoot, which I'm working on now, explores the notion of 'duality' a theme which one of my favourite directors also explores.
Which editorial or series of work is featuring in Carnival Magazine ISSUE 03?
'Animating Architecture: Turbine Hall’ (Photography by Andre Titcombe)
Tell us about the featured series.
This editorial was inspired by one of the modules I took up in the last year of my undergraduate studies, also called 'Animating Architecture'. This was my first ever shoot and I was lucky to be able to secure the Turbine Hall to shoot it in. Location is key for my shoots. I never view the environment as simply background, but rather a space which compliments and sits beautifully alongside the garments. I organised the entire shoot on my own, which I must admit was a little stressful. It was a valuable experience for me and I have continued to organise my own shoots. I was fortunate enough to pull out pieces from some amazing designers, including Micol Ragni, Jane Bowler, Mengna Ye and Anjelica Dariah. I had one of my best friends Charlie Craggs (Trans Activist and Founder of SHE ME HER) on hair and makeup and she did a beautiful job I'm so proud of her! She also injected a lot of fun and laughter to the shoot which I really needed as I was honestly a bag of nerves! Andre Titcombe was the photographer and I felt really lucky having him on board. He did a fantastic job. Looking back on it now, I would actually say that he had a lasting impact on how I view photography now.
Where can our readers see more of your work?
My work has been published online for two other publications so far, Wylde Magazine and Papercut Magazine. I have two more shoots to be published shortly but I can’t talk about them just yet! For more information about my work, my website would be the place to go.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion stylists?
The more shoots I do, the more risk I take. I hope that my feature will inspire other creatives to go out and take risks too! If I could give one piece of advice to anyone, it would be to listen to nobody and to throw out the rulebook. Otherwise, it comes a bit repetitious and boring. Always go with your gut instinct.
FASHION STYLIST / MUNA
PHOTOGRAPHY / Andre Titcombe
HAIR STYLING & MUA / Charlie Craggs
LOCATION / Tate Modern
MODEL / Izzy Hernett @ M+P Models
STYLING ASSISTANT / Charlie Craggs