Katie Shillingford flew to Tokyo for Dazed's September issue, watching the Japanese repeat of Chanel's A/W12 haute couture show (complete with airline set) and attending The Little Black jacket exhibition, a series of images shot by Karl Lagerfeld and styled by Carine Roitfeld, featuring celebrities and models wearing the same tailoring in different ways. Shillingford made her way to the top of the Park Hyatt, the hotel from Sofia Coppola's 'Lost in Translation', and sat down for a head-to-head with Lagerfeld and Roitfeld. Here Shillingford reflects with Dazed Digital on the experience.
That’s one of the things I really admire about Chanel and what Mr Lagerfeld does for Chanel – he brings a sense of humour and fun to very beautiful, elegant and timeless things
Dazed Digital: Chanel's Little Black Jacket project, using the same clothes repeatedly, seems the ideal way to show the power of styling – and of the character wearing the clothes too...
Katie Shillingford: I think it’s nice to play with such a recognisable piece – something like the Chanel jacket, which originally derived from a men’s jacket can be very diverse/unisex. Also something so classic and simple allows those with strong personalities to come through: one of my favourite images from the project is the portrait of Anna Wintour shot from the back, you know exactly who it is because of her iconic bob. Carine is one of my all time favourite stylists and I think her personality comes across through the project too. Especially with the models where she had a bit more freedom to play, she could create characters like Freya as a nun and Anja as a Geisha. I like that what she does has a sense of humour and never takes itself too seriously. It was great to see her dressed up as Coco Chanel herself!
DD: How was the experience of meeting Karl and Carine? Did they live up to their iconic status?
Katie Shillingford: It was a terrifying but amazing experience. I can't quite believe I came out alive – I was so nervous I thought I might pass out! I interviewed them in a beautiful suite at the top of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo, where Lost in Translation was filmed. Through the windows was an amazing view of the city too, so it was overwhelming on every level! But they are so lovely and have a great relationship – it was fascinating to watch the two of them together having a chat. I was blown away by how witty, funny and sharp Mr Lagerfeld is and how kind and gentle Carine is. They say never meet your idols but I was not disappointed at all, after I left I felt very inspired and honoured!
DD: Was it your first trip to Japan?
Katie Shillingford: I have never been to Japan before but always wanted to go. Tokyo is an incredible city, so different to anything I’ve experienced but I didn’t feel intimidated in any way. I think it’s because everyone is so friendly and it’s so safe. One of the highlights of my trip, apart from meeting two of my idols, was visiting a cat café for the first time. I am obsessed with cats so it was a real treat! You turn up, pay, take your shoes off and have a cup of tea in a sort of living room that’s full of really cute cats! Very strange and very Japanese and very brilliant! I also really loved the photobooths that make your eyes much bigger than they are and you end up looking like a manga character… Oh and I bought lots of costumes and amazing Kimonos – so much that I had to get a new suitcase!
DD: What's your favourite piece of Chanel that you own?
Katie Shillingford: I’m lucky enough to have been invited to a few sample sales over the years and I’m a huge Chanel fan, so I’ve collected quite a bit. I have a pair of shoes from the ‘Paris/London’ collection that have light bulbs for heels (that actually light up). They're really amazing! That’s one of the things I really admire about Chanel and what Mr Lagerfeld does for Chanel – he brings a sense of humour and fun to very beautiful, elegant and timeless things. My other favourite Chanel item is a little pink classic Chanel handbag that my husband bought me for my first birthday we were together – probably the reason why I married him! ;)
Check out Dazed's September issue for our take on the Little Black Jacket project, featuring 11 of our favourite female musicians wearing Chanel