Q+A: Guy Hipwell Stylist/Editor of Fashion156.com

January 7, 2010
Full time taste-maker Guy Hipwell, is editor/founder of Fashion156.com. Few online fashion magazines have used their format to such an advantage, fusing the aesthetics of up-and-coming designers with those of the long-established houses. I quizzed Guy on menswear and more…

What is your professional background, and how did you become involved in styling?

I studied Fashion Communication at the London College of Fashion and, at first, I became a fashion writer before a work placement at the Sunday Times ignited my interest in styling. From that time I just concentrated 100% on styling.

What motivated you to establish acclaimed online magazine Fashion156.com?

My head was always full of thousands of editorial ideas with no outlet for them, as most magazines do not use freelance stylists. And even when I was lucky enough to style for one of the quite edgy magazines, they would send a list of designers I had to use in the editorial to appease their advertisers. Of course, I understand the magazines need to make money, but sometimes these brands didn’t fit the theme of the story at all! I also wanted to shoot many of the new emerging names I kept finding out about and often graduate collections make it onto Fashion156.com’s covers.

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^ Artisan issue. Black trousers, black vest and sheer nude and black shirt by Satyenkumar. Shoes from Portobello Market.

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^ Artisan issue. Black and silver bomber jacket by Raf Simons. Grey blazer by Raf Simons. Trousers by Satyenkumar. Shorts by Morgan Allen Oliver. Belt by House of Flora. Grey shoes by Maison Martin Margiela.

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^ Artisan issue. White shirt by Ann Demeulemeester. White jumper by Omar Kashoura. Sheepskin jacket by Harald Helgesen.

How was the transfer from stylist to editor and fashion director of an entire publication?

I think because I used to be a writer as well it gave me a good overview of what was required and being freelance I had always worked crazily long hours. I can honestly say though, I never ever realized just how tough and difficult it would be getting an online magazine up and running. Being editor means 18 hour, 7 days a week are the norm, and in this climate it is even more difficult securing sponsors. But the positives far outweigh the negatives, and I love what I am doing.

Do you have a muse or particular source of inspiration which helps with the evolution of styling ideas/concepts?

I am massively inspired by film and just take on board everything I see around me. My shoots are a mix of trends I am observing on the street, the runway, and, for example, just walking down the road and seeing an old iron gate can start of the whole thought process for a shoot.

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^ Soirée issue. Tristan (left) wears fur coat and trousers by Bronwen Marshall. Necklace and ring from Portobello Market. Cane by Anette Wahlstrom. Jamel (right) wears all-in-one by JW Anderson. Jacket and slippers by Casely-Hayford. Hat from Beyond Retro.

You recently launched F156 Film. What inspired such an addition to the magazine? How was the process of establishing this feature?

Seeing the clothing from our editorials moving and brought to life adds another dimension and it is something I had wanted to add for a while. With the recent overhaul of the site, it seemed the perfect time to introduce some new sections.

Do you have a favourite film yourself? Or one that represents the intimate relationship between fashion and film, perhaps?

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^ Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 (2004)

Another reason I established Fashion156 was out of frustration after watching Wong Kar Wai’s 2046! I left the cinema and desperately wanted to shoot a story inspired by the film, but none of magazines I telephoned were interested. Several months later the Miu Miu campaign (AW 06/07) was unveiled using Asian models and was exactly as I had imagined my shoot and so reminiscent of 2046.

As a stylist for Fashion156, you seamlessly blend both established, upmarket brands with the up-and-coming on the first rung of the industry ladder. Is this a crucial component of Fasion156’s appeal?

For sure, it is one of the main reasons. Most fashion lovers know all about the main collections each season – say for example Prada – but may not be aware of some of the new designers I mix in for my shoots. It makes my job more interesting as often they are one-off show pieces and really can add an edge to our stories.

Last London Fashion Week you provided near-instant content on what went down at the shows on the Fashion156 blog. Is this something you’ll be continuing for coming seasons?

We plan to do exactly the same this season as we set ourselves the target of watching the shows and then posting about them within 20 minutes! It is a challenge, but really seems to keep our readers happy and it one of the many benefits of being online.

Next season sees yet another day exclusively for menswear. Is London menswear finally getting the recognition it deserves? Is there a particular London-based menswear designer you’ve identified as a cut above the rest?

Raising awareness of some of the new raw talent that is just breaking through in London has to be a positive step. Many of these designers are not ready yet to show in Paris or Milan and so it enables them to hone their craft and put on a show and generate some much needed publicity.

There are so many designers I am keeping a close eye on such as James Long and J W Anderson, but perhaps Katie Eary is the one I am most inspired by.

Describe your interpretation of the ideal menswear look.

I am inspired by so many looks, but nothing beats a really great-fitting suit – classic or very modern – different styles suit different individuals/scenarios . Somehow they can have quite a transformative effect.

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^ Soirée Issue. Shirt and Suit jacket by Vivienne Westwood. Bowtie from Beyond Retro.

Given the quality of the magazine’s content and the scarcity of time between issues, you must have quite the team to collaborate with. Where do you source your writers/artists/photographers?

Having worked in the industry for 20 years now I have made some fantastic contacts and they are all supporting what I am doing at Fashion156. I also have some amazing interns and assistants and many go on to become regular contributors to our issues.

Any interesting future projects/plans, either solo or with Fashion156?

I hope to launch a Creative Services division this year, so I can bring teams together – photographers/make-up/models, etc and produce images and films for other companies and brands.

Images from Fashion156.com and Himemiya

  • Soooali January 8, 2010 at 2:07 am

    This was really interesting, thanks for that!

  • Michael K January 8, 2010 at 8:05 am

    A great interview!I have long admired what Guy and the whole team has been striving to achieve in fashion156.It has put me on to to so many wonderful designers and labels that would be ignored by the big monthlies.

  • Cillian January 8, 2010 at 10:54 am

    ^ Thank you both. Glad you enjoyed it. /Male-Mode.com

  • Mat January 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    wicked, what a great op to interview guy @ 156. such a refreshing magazine in terms of variation and menswear not being neglected.and my further employer…