Pin It

The best brutal fashion advice

Tips from the biggest players in the game including Anna Wintour, Dame Viv and Kanye

It's hard out there isn't it? We know fashion is a notoriously tough nut to crack, with some willdy successful people in it. How did they get there? What did they do? Why haven't I achieved anything? Andre Leon Talley and Miuccia Prada have both recently offered tips to aspiring fashion students and it got us thinking about all the other times we'd heard advice from fashion's biggest and best. Here's what you should and shouldn't do from names who've been there, done that. Listen up.


Punk pioneer Vivienne Westwood and Vogue's notoriously critical editor-in-chief Anna Wintour both agree on one thing: you ain't gonna do this on your own. Wintour once noted that she has “not seen too many successful designers who’ve managed alone, without a business partner.” Westwood's design partner is her husband Andreas Kronthaler. Keep your friends close and your husbandy design partners closer.


Can't do it yourself? Rip someone else off. As Westwood noted in an interview with Fashionista, "a young person has experience up to a point, and they can do something and it might be very good, but you can't do something for very long if you don't have the ideas coming, you know? It doesn't come just from you. You have to get it from somewhere." Though if you're to take a note out of Kanye West's book, you'd know that the art of copying is only successful if you bring a twist to the table. “I don’t care if you can see the influence in something, as long as I made it better”, he told T Magazine.


Can't do something? Just pretend you can. In Alastair Campbell's book Winners and How They Succeeded, Wintour explains: “Even if you aren't sure of yourself, pretend that you are". So if you're shy - pretend you're not. "In today’s world you have to interact. You can’t be some difficult, shy person who is not able to look somebody in the face; you have to present yourself. You have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus and what you believe in", Wintour told Central Saint Martin's students last year. 


Wintour's usually right so listen up when she says that starting your own brand will probably not help. “The only thing I worry a little bit about, going straight from school to starting your own business, is not that many succeed. I personally would advise you to think carefully before you start your own business, and consider possibly working for a designer or a company whose work you admire”.


Like every (most) other human being on the planet you need to have an income. Wintour says that, “whether it’s working as a designer or working in a restaurant and then doing your own thing in your own time, it’s a reality of life”. Miuccia Prada doesn't disagree, telling the Telegraph, “how can you be happy when you don’t work?" Prada says that women (and obviously men) who don’t work spend their life worrying about getting older. Do you really want wrinkles?


It's important to do your homework but take note from fashion veterans André Leon Talley and Marc Jacobs – it's time to peel yourself off your laptop and pick up some hardbacks. We know it's going to be difficult but just try it. Talley told Fashionista that Googling is not enough, "you have to explore it". And Jacobs agrees. "I like a book with hard cover, and text on a piece of paper. I like magazines. I don't care if I carry around 100lbs of magazines, I'd rather do that than look at them on the internet", he said in an interview earlier this year.


People will always remind you that "the world owes you nothing," and they're right. It might come as a shock, but even the people you hold up on a pedestal began as interns – working long hours and striving to carve a name in the industry. Kanye once said: "I one hundred per cent had to scream". If the ain't listening to Kanye, they're probably not listening to you.


Think that your style stands out? Marc Jacobs doesn’t. He had some pretty heavy words for young fashion designers who think they’re about to make it. “You know, I am an older person now, I'm going to be 52 in a couple of months," he said. "But I look at young fashion and it seems like it's all the same - the idea of what is edgy or cool. It's style with no substance; it doesn't really seem born of anything. I don't see the rebellion or edge in it. It just looks like a cliche: salad oil in the hair, Frankenstein shoes and the trappings of punk and all these other things.


Finally, don’t forget about he past because it’s thanks to names such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent that you can do this. Andre Leon Talley said, "You can’t go toward the future without some sense of the past. Everything in life goes in cycles, and you cannot have any strength if you don’t know what the masters did. Masters in fashion would be the history of Balenciaga, the history of Yves Saint Laurent, the history of the 18th century. How can you even talk about fashion if you don’t know the modern impact of YSL’s great, great body of work?”