Jayme is from Canada and came to London with a list of email addresses that was given to her by her professor. One of the emails was Katie Shillingford's then assistant who Jayme ended up interning for and later replaced when she left. Jayme also spent time at Mario Testino +, where she met Vincent, and together they started the Instagram account @ninetiesmoments. She is soon moving to Berlin to start an art direction partnership with Vincent.
This interview took place between Tate and Jayme at All Press Coffee in London
TVPS: How did you get to where you are today?
JM: I studied fashion at Blanche MacDonald Center in Vancouver, Canada. It was a 12-month diploma program. During the course I developed a great relationship with one of the professors who was really inspiring to me. His name is Tyler Udall, he’s the fashion director at Blanche, and he had previously worked in London as a fashion editor at Dazed and AnOther Man. I pretty much knew that I wanted to move to London after I graduated – I really wanted to experience the fashion world in one of the major cities, so London was perfect. So I applied for a UK visa and moved almost as soon as I graduated. I was so lucky to have met Tyler, he’s really the reason I’m here in the first place, he shared his experience, was very encouraging, and connected me with a few key people.
Once I arrived, one of the people that I emailed shared some of her contacts with me as well - basically a lot of styling assistants and stylists, and one of them got back to me. It was Katie Shillingford's assistant. She just said, "Yeah. Come in for an interview. I actually need a new intern." So I did and then she took me on as her intern for 3 months.
That experience was invaluable, funnily enough, because I realized that I didn’t want to be a stylist, which I think is something that you can only learn from experiencing it. But also I learned so much in such a short space of time. It was really hard work and people could be tough, which is to be expected at a magazine like AnOther. But I think I just realized that I was a lot more interested in the whole picture, rather than specifically the clothing. I loved doing research and helping to inform some of the ideas and direction.
After that I got an internship under the Art and Fashion Director at Mario Testino's studio which was completely different than AnOther Magazine.
He has a beautiful studio in West London. It was incredible and I learned so much. The woman I was interning for was nice, yet tough, and very talented and I respected her a lot. The roles within the company are more definitive, and it's a lot more structured than the work environment that you would find at a magazine. I was in the art department, so my role was assisting with research, casting, and sending out internal newsletters to people in the company informing them of what was going on in the fashion industry and, more generally, in the world.
How big is the company?
It's pretty large actually, because he has a studio called Mario Testino +, which does art direction, production, finances, everything. All together it's a 3-story building with around 30 people.
It was good to see the level that they work at. Everything is pristine and perfect. Every morning the whole team would have a meeting. “What are you up to?” “How can I help you?” Kind of thing.
That was a 4-month internship, and near the end I wasn’t really sure where to go from there. Then Katie Shillingford's assistant that I had interned for messaged me, "I'm leaving. Are you interested in potentially taking over as her assistant?" At first, I didn't respond for a day or two, and I was thinking no way - I couldn’t see myself being an assistant when I didn’t even want to be a stylist, but I spoke to my mom, of course, and my friends, and I knew that it could really be an amazing opportunity to be a part of the magazine as more than an intern, and to work with those people at such a high level. So I went for it. I did a trial run for 2 months and at the end, she asked me to be her assistant.
Was the old assistant there during your trial?
Yeah, it was a really busy time for Katie so together we prepped like 5 shoots within 2 weeks, if I remember correctly. Then I prepped one shoot totally solo, and it went really well.
It was on location outside of Brussels with Pierre Debusschere. I didn’t go on set, but I confirmed all the samples, coordinated with PR people to organize their arrival in Brussels, and then handled the returns.
It went really well and I think she was impressed. After that she was like “Okay, let's do this.”
So now that you graduated to an assistant position at AnOther Magazine, what’s your role?
It’s been just over a year now. Long term, I want to be an art director so in a way I think they geared my role towards that. I do a lot of image research for each issue. I’m often in the library at Central Saint Martins.
We start planning each issue months before we start shooting. Then when we start shooting that issue, we’ll find out about a specific shoot maybe 2 weeks before it happens.
So then when I know a shoot is coming up I start to send out requests for different looks that Katie wants. She’ll say "These are all the designer looks that I want," and, "I'm thinking about maybe some vintage pieces that look like this. I also want some costume pieces like this," so I'll request all the looks via email to the press officers. Then I'll go to vintage stores and take pictures of stuff that I think might work and go to costume places and do the same. Then I have interns that help me check in the samples, lay them out, pack them up and then we shoot it.
Do you also assist on set?
Yeah. I'm always on set. It’s my favorite part because I admire photographers so much that getting to meet them and work with them is so cool for me. The hair and makeup people are always so nice. I love seeing it all come together. Katie appreciates my opinion as well, so she often asks, "What do you think? Which option is better?"
So you also manage interns?
Mm-hmm. I usually have two, maybe three to help me. I'll have one come on set, whoever I think is best on set. They help in the beginning to unpack everything, and then they help to pack it all up and send it back afterward.
Has there ever been an intern that stood out to you?
I had this one intern, Katherine, for almost six months. I could always rely on her. She always packed things up neatly. She always got things back to where they were supposed to be. She never lost things. You have to be so organized, and smart, and know how to get everywhere in London. Just being on top of it.
How would you describe AnOther Magazine’s company culture?
AnOther Magazine has an amazing group of inspiring women who I look up to, and they're all encouraging and want to help you out, and bring you up. They're intelligent. They have a good eye for things, and they're really passionate about their jobs, which is nice - working with people who truly want to be there and make the magazine what it is. There are no men at AnOther interestingly, but we share the office with Dazed, and there are a lot of men there.
How do you keep the two magazines from being blurred together?
The magazines have completely different teams so I think they really stay separate because it’s always a different perspective and a different opinion portrayed in each issue. And I think each magazine’s voice is quite distinct. Dazed focuses a bit more on youth culture, whereas AnOther has a bit of an older audience.
Do you still have the pool table?
Nope. I know there used to be one though.
Shit. I was hoping it was still there. I read about it in 'Making It Up As We Go Along'.
We have office meetings every month, which is really nice. We just had it today.
How was it?
It’s everyone from Dazed, AnOther Magazine, AnOther Man, and Nowness. Jefferson comes in, and we all have breakfast together, and we talk about what's going on. We’ll go over what’s coming up, how things went, who’s coming and going, everything. So today Jefferson was talking about the next issue of Dazed that comes out because it’s their 25th anniversary, so it's a huge thing. He was just talking about old memories and the pool table in the office days. I think there was a bar and a skate ramp too.
Whoa that’s cool. What have you learned from your role so far?
I'm a completely different person from last year because when you’re given that much responsibility you grow so quickly. I've learned to be very, very organized, and independent because Katie was on maternity leave. Since she lives in the countryside, she was hardly in the office so I would prep the whole shoot and then just meet her on set.
Yeah she put a lot of trust in me. Some weeks I would get to the office at 8 am and just work until 10 or 11 pm. It's incredibly rewarding, though.
Another really important thing that I’ve learned to do is introduce myself to people on set, and connect with them - so many of them have become really good friends of mine now. Like hair and makeup artists, and even photographers. So when I visit another city that they live in, I’ll see them.
It's so nice to know people like that. They're all so nice and open, even if they might intimidate you at first. And it can make almost any job a lot more enjoyable if you’re working with your friends.
Another major thing I’ve learned is how to balance my life a bit better. Being an assistant can be so exhausting and the hours can be really long, so when I have time off I really make the most of it. It’s so important to have that time to yourself and with your friends.
Do you like your role now?
Yeah. I mean there are still days when it’s just ridiculous, and you’re overworked and underpaid, but it’s been so worth it. The experiences that I’ve gotten to have, traveling and meeting all of these people; it’s remarkable.
Do you also help Katie with her other projects, like Gareth Pugh?
Yes. I help her with everything that she does.
Yeah so I’ll help her with Gareth Pugh, and then most recently she styled a ballet at the Royal Opera House in May, so I worked a lot on that.
How did her styling techniques change when she had to prioritize the dancer's ability to move in the clothes?
It was a real challenge, for both of us, it’s not really something that’s been done before, “styling” a ballet with designer clothing. And yeah, a major struggle was making sure the dancers could have full mobility in the clothing. She had to choose things that were fairly mobile, and we asked certain designers to custom-make pieces as well, but there was also an amazing team of seamstresses at the Royal Opera House that altered things to help them move better.
Yeah, it was amazing to work on that. And she shoots a lot for Vogue and other magazines as well.
That's cool because you get to work on the magazine but you still get to expand your network to all these other places.
It was perfect. It's so nice to have an office to go into everyday and friends to see - I know people who assist freelance stylists and they might just be in an apartment receiving samples all day. Where as I get to be in an office environment but also be a part of projects that are separate from AnOther Magazine.
So I know that Dazed and AnOther Magazine share offices and sometimes people cross over but how does that work?
Well as of recently each publication under the Dazed Media Group has their own editor-in-chief actually. But still, there is one person who crosses over, which is Jefferson Hack. But most of the stylists/editors are also contributors to the other publications. Katie and I just shot for Dazed in July actually.
Has AnOther Magazine changed under the new editor-in-chief?
Definitely. Susannah Frankel is so incredible. She's the woman I want to be when I'm her age. She's down to earth... just doesn't give a fuck. She says what she thinks, and she's honest and funny and kind, and extremely intelligent.
When Jefferson was the editor-in-chief, obviously it was still great, but he wasn't in the office that much because he’s really busy and always traveling. She’s in the office a lot of the time. It's nice to have someone who’s more present and who can be approached at any time. It's interesting now how it's an all female dynamic. Also, the editor-in-chief of Dazed is a woman now too, which is cool.
What did you study in school?
I studied at University in the arts program for my first year and then transferred to Blanche Macdonald where I completed the fashion program.
Did it prepare you for where you are now?
Yeah but I’m always a little bit unprepared for every job that I start, which I almost think is the way that it should be.
You just learn as you go and you rise to the challenge. Now I feel like I could do this job no problem, but in the beginning it was overwhelming.
When did you know you wanted to go into fashion?
It's really funny, because in high school I really didn't dress particularly well and a lot of my friends were like, "What? You're going to fashion school?" And now they're like, "What? You live in London, and you work at a magazine?"
I didn’t even figure out that I wanted to go into fashion until my first year of university. I was always obsessed with fashion imagery though, so I think ultimately that’s what led me here – I was always looking at magazines and tearing out images I liked.
Has it been worth it?
Yes. 100% of it.
I'm so happy to hear that. I know some people aren't so happy, and it makes me sad.
Well, yeah. I feel lucky to be where I am right now because a lot of it was pure luck.
When I emailed AnOther Magazine about the internship, she just happened to need a new intern that day. I hate to say it, but a lot of it was connections and a bit of luck.
The harder you work the luckier you get.
That’s true. I feel proud of what I've done, but I know there are some really good interns at AnOther who have been there for so long just hoping a position would open up, but it just doesn’t happen. I'm so lucky that there was one for me, and I came back.
But I feel like if that hadn't happened, something else would have happened. I was also interested in set design, and there was a woman who wanted to have me as a paid intern there, so that could have led me a different way as well.
Isn’t set design really big in London?
Yeah, and I’m very curious about it. I'm interested in furniture and objects and texture. Maybe I’ll explore that one day.
How did you make yourself stand out at AnOther Magazine?
I’m a perfectionist, and I always presented myself in a professional manner. Which is really important as an intern if you want to go on set, because there are some interns who you just think, "I'm not bringing them on set because they might do something crazy." I love interesting characters, but when you’re an intern on set you need to be very professional.
How has the influx of digital media affected magazines?
It’s been good and bad. I think it’s been good because it will eventually narrow the selection of magazines to only the ones that are actually worthwhile and interesting.
I think a negative aspect is that everything is over exposed. You’re constantly seeing imagery and old references that people are re-referencing. I hate it when people copy stuff. They'll look through a Tumblr page and see these great 90s campaigns and then they’ll do the exact same thing. My mind is constantly over-saturated with imagery.
It's obnoxious when places are dependent on constantly churning out new stuff where it becomes fluff, and none of it is interesting because the turnaround has to be so quick.
Yeah, totally. Today in our office meeting, Nowness was talking about how they used to put out a video out every day of the year, but now they're cutting it back to 3 per week. Not because they're doing poorly or because they’ve cut funding, it's just because people work so hard on those videos. If there’s one every single day, you don't pay attention to it for long enough to respect it and appreciate how much work went into it. I think less content, but better quality is key.
There's a key to waiting, too.
Speaking of which, accessibility has become a huge thing recently. In your opinion, how has that affected the industry?
I think that it’s a good thing. It's ridiculous that fashion is this elitist thing. We all wear clothes, and we should all be able to wear really nice clothes or not care about clothes if we don't care about clothes. I hate the idea of niche markets and elitist values. I think it's good to democratize fashion.
But I also think that the accessibility factor has contributed to this over-saturated market because everyone can post fashion images on social media.
Who or what influenced your career path the most?
One of my professors, Tyler. He’s one of the first people that I met who was involved in the high fashion scene. He was so inspiring to me; he has amazing taste and just has this cool personality. He was so open to anything. He was my mentor.
What’s it like starting a career in the fashion industry in London?
There are pros and cons, but one of the pros is the immense energy and the acceptance of youth. I’ve always felt self-conscious about how young I was, so moving here, I’ve really appreciated the acceptance of youth.
How old are you now?
You're one year older than me!
People are so open to young people here. They're almost like, "You're young. You know what's cool. Tell me." I love that. And there're so many creative people working in the industry here, so there are good vibes. But you have to work really hard to make it, because if you don't someone else will.
But it’s also an exhausting place, and I think it ages you a lot. I think the major downside of London is the cost which makes it difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle, because you're overworked, underpaid, paying too much for rent, the air is polluted… But, I'm happy to sacrifice that while I'm here, at least for a while.
I think London and New York are the same in that sense, but I feel like London celebrates youth a little bit more.
I think it’s more creative here too. I feel like sometimes the general opinion about NYFW is that it's very corporate and business-y and there’s a lot of money. Whereas in London because of CSM and London College of Fashion, there are so many young designers that are not making any money but still make new amazing collections just because they want to show it to everyone.
Do you get the sense that there's a supportive community here for the young people coming into the fashion industry?
Definitely. The schools here are amazing and they do well with supporting new talent.
Also, it's incredible how much exposure the graduate collections get. They get put right on Style.com or whatever it is now. The editors too are always looking at the graduate collections, so you’ll see them featured in AnOther Magazine and Vogue and all of the others.
The internship thing is a bit tricky though because basically no one pays their interns in London. I generally think that it's a supportive community though. People want to help each other and even though London is a huge city with so many people in it, it's a pretty small industry. Everyone kind of knows everyone.
Do you have a favorite time on set?
Totally. We went to Kiev in Ukraine in May. We were there for 4 days shooting and they had street cast all these interesting young kids mostly found at these raves organized around the city – “Cxema”, and we shot them in incredible clothes that we brought with us... I still can't believe I was apart of that. It was incredible - being in Kiev, a place that you wouldn't think of going. Staying in this amazing hotel, which is an architectural landmark. Exploring the streets of Kiev and shooting these kids in designer clothes and hanging out with them at night and going to their studios. It was incredible.
It was so much fun. That is one memory that I will always keep close.
So how did you find these kids? Did you email them or…
I wasn't involved in that, but the casting directors, Julia Lange and Piotr Chamier, put the word out and ended up discovering this amazing group of people. They found this underground rave scene that's called “Cxema” - it's this organization that puts on parties and raves at different clubs and venues around Kiev. There's this group of kids who always go and they're really interesting characters. And we also shot a couple different models that lived in Kiev too.
I love that.
I'm so happy to hear stories like that because I admire the magazine so much. You read about the history and how these publications were formed, and it just sounds like… I mean maybe the pool table is gone, but your approach to doing things hasn’t really changed. It doesn't feel like you all have...
Gone corporate and money-minded.
I think Jefferson would be very happy to hear you say that. He always is like, "We started as an independent magazine, and we still are!" And we are.
My friend the other day said she was describing AnOther Magazine to her friend who had never heard of it as “a fashion magazine, but one that has nothing to do with those trashy magazines with covers that have all this crap on it like, "Ten ways to please your man," and "Five tips for losing five inches." It has nothing to do with that. It's art and culture and fashion and interesting people doing interesting things.
I've actually never thought about it in that way but it’s so true, and I'm so happy to be a part of a magazine that doesn't have to do any of that stuff, the gimmicky stuff, to get people to read it.
Yeah. To me, it just feels like the pulse of everything that’s going on today, a cultural evaluation.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I'm always more into an interesting face. I'm into interesting looking people who dress androgynously and are more… unexpected. I also like film photography a lot compared to digital. I like rawness and actually…
Yeah I think that’s coming…
No no no. Say what you were going to say.
No go on.
Were you going to say that's coming back?
Yeah, I was going to say you're right! I’m also obsessed with 90’s fashion photography. I have an Instagram account called ninetiesmoments. I do it with my friend Vincent who lives in Berlin. It's just 90s fashion photography curated by us. We’re always in the library finding content.
It’s tricky though, because I see a lot of people trying to imitate the aesthetic of 90’s, but it really just looks like a copy.
There's something about the 90s. Maybe it's the rawness, the film, the colors, the more androgynous women, the more real and simple styling that I like.
It’s kind of a question of how to escape copying but still provide people with the same emotional reaction to the photos?
Yeah exactly… It's hard though because it feels like everything's been done. It's hard to do something that feels totally new. It's an over-saturated market.
Why is it important to diversify castings?
It’s just more real, I hate the illusion that the fashion world often creates – people whose skin looks like plastic, their teeth are perfectly straight, blah blah blah.
I'm obsessed with the whole trend for street casting right now. I love how with the Vetements show, for example, they cast their friends and the interesting kids that they found on the street.
That's one of the aesthetic things that I'm drawn to. Even if it's just a totally normal looking person or a weird looking person, I love that so much. I think it's a good thing that's happening right now.
Do you like Eckhaus Latta?
Yes. I love the age range that they promote. That's another way that fashion's being democratized in a great way. You can cast an old woman or a young person or not a stereotypically beautiful person.
Do you like it because it has a social impact or because it makes the photos more interesting?
Both. I think it makes the photos more interesting. When you see typically beautiful people, it’s like, "Yeah I've seen that before." When you see a really interesting face, you stop and appreciate it. And also, for example, seeing an older lady is great as a social impact, because youth and old-age are both beautiful.
What's the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Traveling to different cities and meeting photographers are my two favorite things right now. It's so perfect because the most stressful part of a shoot is prepping it and the lead up to it. But once you actually get to whatever crazy set location you’re shooting at and you meet the photographer, it's like, "Yes. This is so worth it.” I love it.
Who are your favorite photographers?
At the moment one of my favourites is Mark Peckmezian, we just shot with him in Paris for Dazed. He's Canadian as well, so there’s a personal connection.
Then also in Kiev, we were shooting with this duo called Max and Patrick. I love their work because they're all about the street casting and also the unexpected locations. I think my favorite fashion photographer of all time though is David Sims. His 90’s work is incredible, but also his work now - especially with Arena Homme Plus. I hope that I get to meet him one day.
Who do you look up to?
One woman I look up to is Agata Belcen. She’s the senior fashion editor at AnOther Magazine, and she’s just a really cool woman. She's got incredible taste.
She's calm and confident, super intelligent, and an amazing stylist. Before all of her shoots, she researches them to death. She will find out everything about whatever she's trying to portray so it always seems very authentic, she knows what she’s talking about.
How do you keep growing/moving forward?
My Visa for the UK expires soon. So I'm actually moving to Berlin in October. Which is a good thing because right now I’m on the path to being a stylist, and this move to Berlin will force me to branch out and focus more on what I really want to do, which is art direction.
My best friend Vincent, who I met at Mario Testino, is from there and he lives there now. We're hoping to start an art direction partnership together. In the beginning, I might do more assisting until I land on my feet but on the side, we're going to try and make it happen as art directors. That's how I'm moving and growing by basically being kicked out of one country to go to another!
Berlin is probably the most up and coming city with the coolest people.
That's true, but people have been saying that for maybe 10 years now. It’s accurate though because I’m constantly meeting people who are about to move there. There’s a ton of people based there but who work globally.
Isn't Dust based in Berlin?
The art director is but I think they’re mostly in Paris.
There’s also 032c, and Interview Germany is great. I feel like with social media and the Internet you can be based anywhere and work on a global scale, especially in Europe because you’re a two-hour flight from most countries.
Exactly. I feel like Berlin can support more creative individuals because the cost of living is so low.
Yeah my friend just moved there because her visa expired as well and she has this massive, light-filled room in an apartment for 200 Euros a month…
Is it hard to leave a city where you just started building a life for yourself there?
Yeah. It's sad to leave such an amazing publication because it's honestly my favorite magazine ever and to leave all the incredible people that I’ve been surrounded by every day. But I've also met so many people who I'm going to meet up with again in Berlin who live there. I’m still going to keep in touch with everyone, and maybe I’ll be back here one day after I establish myself in Berlin.
I'm just super, super grateful for the connections and having my CV read Mario Testino and AnOther Magazine.
It's not starting over again like going from Canada to London. You have such an advantage. It's still going to be the same people, the same crowd.
Where do you think this generation is headed?
I’m a bit worried because a lot of kids are just straight up copying images that they’ve seen before without even knowing where the original has come from and also not attempting to do it in their own way. They don’t go to the library or do any real research, they just Google things.
It’s super important to go to the library because when you just use Google you’re only finding what you’re searching for whereas when you’re at the library, you might pull out a random book and be like "Oh my God this is amazing! I would have never found this on the internet," because by using the Internet, you give up the chance to stumble upon something that you wouldn't have thought of.
I just feel like the Internet makes people lazy and it over-exposes everything. People constantly want more and more imagery and information and stuff, and it’s too much. They need to take a step back and spend more time creating interesting, high-quality content instead of just copying what’s been done before.
Yeah I totally agree.
I find it trivial to even use Google images these days. Whenever someone at work asks me to do image research I go straight to the library.
Also with Google a lot of information is wrong. For instance, if you search “Kate Moss by Craig McDean” David Sim’s photos of Kate Moss will also fall under that search which makes it challenging if you’re trying to learn who these people are and their individual aesthetics.
I know! I hate that.
What do you like about being in the fashion industry?
I love the people that I meet. So many people who live in London are from all over the world, so everyone has really interesting backgrounds and points of view. They all have different stories.
In the fashion industry, people want to make connections because that’s what furthers them but at the same time people want to make connections because it enriches their lives. Sounds really cheesy, but it's true, because knowing so many different people from so many different places, it makes for a fun life.
For sure. How would you like to see this industry evolve and change and grow?
A lot of the things that I've touched on before, just slowing it down, making quality over quantity.
People need to crave more and not just constantly be thrown imagery and stuff. I think as I've said before, I wish people would thoroughly research things and read books and watch films and go to galleries.
You're like, "Listen up, everyone!"
Yeah, it's just so important. Educate yourself. Sometimes I think I wish that I had an actual degree from a university rather than just a diploma, but you can teach yourself things, read books, and watch films. You can teach yourself whatever you want to know so take advantage of it.
So what do you want to do with art direction?
So I met Vincent when I was at Mario Testino. We would spend so much time together, and we got along really well. We realized that we both wanted to be art directors and work on campaigns, work on editorials for magazines and stuff.
Also, we both have a similar aesthetic, and we're inspired by the same things. We're both really into, outside of fashion, architecture, and the arts. Hopefully one day we’ll have our own studio in Berlin.
What's the role of an art director in your opinion?
They work with clients to come up with concepts, research ideas, put together teams, work with layouts and branding, etc. Ultimately I think it’s coming up with a way that a brand can present themselves to their market, and then physically doing that, and making it a real, visual thing.
Is art direction something you would like to be doing long-term?
Yeah. That's my ultimate goal.
I want to figure out a way to create things that are totally new and unexpected, which is a huge challenge because so much has already been done before. I want to somehow create the feeling that I get from looking at great 90s fashion photography and campaigns, but without copying it. Bringing it into the future somehow, I'm not sure how yet, though. We'll figure it out though.
And what advice would you give to someone who looks up to you?
I've been asked this question before, and my answer always sounds so cheesy, but if you have a goal of how you see yourself, what you see yourself doing in the future, you have to try to make it happen. If you don't, honestly, what's the point of life? If you look up to people who are living the dream - doing exactly what they want, having a great life, why not make that happen for yourself?
There's nothing that says you can't have that as well. They probably started out exactly as you did in the beginning - doubting themselves and thinking it'll never happen, but it totally can. You just have to make it happen, work really hard, make good connections, be nice. Be nice, please.