By Allegra Colletti
TFS: And how do you feel about styling celebrities? Do you do that at all?
EE: I do that sometimes. The celebrity culture has just taken over. It’s been the prevalent thing for the past 10-12 years! We’re obsessed with celebrity culture. I work with celebrities that I really respect and adore. I don’t have to work with celebrities for the sake of it. There’s a certain kind of celebrity that I love – someone like Bjork, or Gwyneth, or Sienna Miller. By these names I think you can see it’s that same cool, a little bit off-the-center kind of girl. Certain great celebrities who have style can also teach you something. Like when you go into Bjork’s world, you find out so much about the colors she loves…or the sounds she loves…or the influences she has. So it then becomes more of a dialogue. You don’t just go in and say ‘Oh, I’m taking over your style’. For me it works when it’s a dialogue, but a really inspiring dialogue. Not “I wanna wear the latest from …here, here, here. Can you go get it?
TFS: So it’s more collaborative and not just personal shopping. That’s great. So can you talk about some of the photographers you’ve worked with? And is there anyone that you haven’t worked with…well…you’ve worked with almost everyone!
EE: Almost everyone. I missed out on Helmut Newton! And I missed out on AVEDON! I was supposed to do something and then he passed away. I missed out on those two, but to be honest, I have so much respect for all the photographers I work with and if we were to talk about everyone, we’d be here forever.
TFS: So maybe if I was just to say a name… what words jump to mind?
EE: Beyond talented…
EE: The most poetic…
TFS: Craig McDean.
EE: London cool…
TFS: Mario Sorrenti.
EE: Incredible Intuition…the voice of a generation!
TFS: So great! So do you have an office that you work out of?
EE: Yeah, I have an office in London and New York.
TFS: And how many assistants do you work with?
EE: I have two assistants in London, and one assistant in New York. Certain assistants work on certain jobs, because I prepare several jobs at the same time, One will be working on Italian Vogue, one will be preparing an advertising job, and one is stationed at American Vogue. So this way everything’s covered.
TFS: And then will you sometimes pull in some freelance assistants just to help out?
E: Yes, sometimes yes. But I have to say that my assistants are very capable.
TFS: How long do they usually stay with you?
EE: They don’t stay long enough (laughs)…about 4 years.
TFS: 4 years is quite a long time actually.
EE: I know, I’ve been so lucky and blessed. Four years… and when they leave I say, ’You know you have to do 8 years!’ (laughs)
The past three…Michelle, Cameron, Caroline Newell, were all with me 4 years. Somehow they liked to stay, which made me very happy. You get so close to your assistants. When you’re traveling and when you’re in different countries and time zones, there’s always someone consistent in your life.
TFS: Speaking of traveling and time zones…how many days of the month are you away from home?
EE: Well, I travel every week, so that should give you an idea. Every week I get on a plane somewhere.
TFS: Wow. Does that wreak havoc with your personal life?
EE: I’m very lucky to have a partner who travels a lot as well and who works in the industry, so we have a great balance.
TFS: Do you think it helps being with someone in the industry who understands?
EE: He’s works in the industry, in a different part of it – but definitely YES about the understanding. For years I wasn’t with anybody because it does wreak havoc on your life…it’s only in the past 7 years or so that it’s worked. You reach a kind of equilibrium.
TFS: I think a lot of people in the industry struggle with that sort of thing. So, with all these shoots and all these clothes sort of flying all over the world, do you have any funny sort of horror stories that you can share with us? Something crazy that happened and how you found a creative solution?
EE: OH god!…(laughs) Here’s a really good one. I’m with American Vogue, and I’m OBSESSED with accessories! For all my shoots, me and the market editor for American Vogue have so much fun! We pull every accessory…from what you’ve seen on the runway to vintage pieces. And one day we were going to the heart of nowhere, in Mali with Liya Kabede and Mikael Jaanson.
So we had, like, 8 trunks of accessories! We got to Mali – it’s not a wealthy country, so we were very respectful, we all lived very basic – but we got to Mali, and every single box of clothes had arrived… but every single trunk of accessories had been left behind, apart from one pair of Dior earrings!
We did about 20 pages, and for each shot I kept bringing out the same earring! So by the end of the trip, I got back to American Vogue and everyone was like: ‘We can’t believe that you got all the way to Africa, and researched all this sort of African jewelry, and ended up using this Dior jewelry from PARIS in every single picture ….in AFRICA!…
It was so funny…we were just laughing about that in the offices of American Vogue. But it shows that you can plan and plan and research and research, but at the end of the day you have to leave room for creativity. You just have to go with it.