Sunday, 4 August 2013

Inspirational Women: Shelly Vella

Morning All, well the sun has disappeared here in the UK and it feels decidedly autumnal for a Monday morning in August. I thought it was time to introduce another stylish and inspirational lady on the blog, hope you enjoy this morning's post and just a reminder I'm now on bloglovin to make it easier to follow The Notebook every week.

Sometimes I feel like my life plays out a bit like a book with chapters for each part of my life. In each chapter there are main characters that feature, I'm sure you have similar scenarios in your head. My school days are dominated by an English teacher who cheered me on when I stood up to bullies in class; my Uni days by a handful of friends who would pile into the back of my Mini and go for rides into the Berkshire countryside escaping essays and deadlines; and I can't think about my time working on Cosmo without thinking about Shelly.

She was my boss, but also my friend and made my time there so much fun! As Fashion and Style Director on Cosmopolitan she has carved an impressive career art directing fashion shoots for both magazines and high street brands with her distinctive vision and beautiful, aspirational styling. Her days are full, spent travelling on exotic location shoots, viewing new season's collections, as well as planning and coordinating the fashion pages of Cosmo, but she is also a tireless campaigner for animal welfare, a passionate horse rider, an inspiring marathon runner, and has a wicked sense of humour - a lot to live up to when I was starting out let me tell you!

So I was really excited to find out that she had been involved in a new range for Miss Selfridge, a great name on the British high street, and so a perfect fit!

I wanted to ask her a few questions about what inspired her over the years and how she got to this exciting point in her career.

The Notebook: How did you start your career in magazines and what or who inspired you to work in fashion?
Shelly Vella: My first job was working in the fashion features department at the newly launched British ELLE - I'd joined on work experience and just, well, stayed. It was an exciting time in magazines - the market wasn't flooded, celebrities didn't dominate covers and British 'style' was fĂȘted the world over.

I came to work in fashion by chance, I'd been seeking something where I could flex my visual and written skills and fashion journalism popped up. At that time I was inspired by Katharine Hammett - I loved her clothes and her fierce political stance,  so too Vivienne Westwood for her music/culture/fashion crossovers.

1. Vivienne Westwood portrait via The Guardian
2. Katharine Hamnett portrait via Ian Harrison

TN: How important is style to you?
SV: I love 'individual style' - always fascinated by how people put things together and how one piece on one person can look so totally different on another. Saying that, if I don't love what I'm wearing - I always feel off kilter - so the way I put myself together IS really important to me. Textures, colours and a nod to a bohemian cut feature heavily in my wardrobe.

TN: How would you define your own style and how has it evolved over the years?
SV: Ha ha, a little bit bohemian, a little bit rock 'n' roll - I've always loved a sequin, bit of beading and embroidery. Fluid cuts and pieces that feel they could have been trawled from vintage or travels abroad. I'm not sure my style has evolved - I'm still drawn magpie like to the above, it's just that now older, I tend to spend more on really special pieces.

TN: How did the range for Miss Selfridge come about?
SV: I've known the Creative Director, Yasmin Yusuf, of Miss Selfridge from the late 80s when I was working for ID and ELLE and she for a designer boutique, Jones. I'd been haranguing her for years to take me on a buying trip to India so I could discover first hand all her secret haunts for textiles and jewellery. That dream came true in October last year and whilst there she mentioned the idea of collaborating on a collection. It was an amazing privilege to be asked.

Images via Shelly Vella on Instagram from her trip to India

TN: Did you have a particular woman or customer in mind?
SV: The Miss Selfridge customer loves something individual, a little bit different - so this Inspired by collection caters to her wanderlust and individualism. The pieces can be mixed and matched and are the perfect festival goers must haves. A long vintage vibe dress with a studded leather waistcoat thrown over, buckled ankle boots and a ton of jewellery...I think the Miss S girl knows what she likes but will also try something new.

TN: Who are your favourite designers and do you have any pieces you're coveting at the moment?
SV: I adore Isabel Marant and Dries van Noten - two designers whose aesthetic totally echoes how I feel about fashion. As for coveting - the Isabel beaded coat jacket - a girl can dream can't she?

Images via:

TN: What piece of advice would you give to women trying to discover their own style?
SV: Try things and never be close minded to certain looks. My 80 year old Aunt was recently coerced from her golf club staples into a beautiful ethnic smock top, loose trousers and jewellery and instantly looked ten years younger and more stylish. If you naturally gravitate to a colour - try the different tones til you find the one that most suits you. Looks can be adapted so persevere until you've got it just right for you.

All pieces available now from the Inspired By range at Miss Selfridge.

You can follow Shelly on Twitter and Instagram, and see more of her inspiring style in Cosmopolitan each month.

1 comment :

  1. Great post amy..what a lovely range your friend has made. I am always drawn to these ethnic types pieces too but sometimes i'm not sure how to wear some of it without looking like an indian But yes try a little here and there is the way to go and I'm trying some more patterns and some jewellery this season.


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