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So What Do You Do, Stacy London, Author, TV Correspondent, and Fashion Maven?

The What Not To Wear star shares a 360-degree look at her career

- October 13, 2010
We've all seen someone committing an egregious fashion faux pas: the lady in ill-fitting low rise jeans, the frazzled mom in bad sweats, the gentleman in the suit that's been pleading for retirement since the early 1980s. You may shudder, but Stacy London thrives on those kinds of screeching, cue-the-horror-movie-music mistakes. They're an opportunity for her to do what she does best: make people look better, one outfit at a time.

Even as one-half of the style slinging duo on TLC's wildly popular What Not to Wear, co-author of Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body and owner of more than 300 pairs of shoes, the former contributor to Vogue and Mademoiselle smirks, "Oh God, there are too many" when asked how many fashion mistakes she's made of her own. Recently, London realized her off-Broadway dreams as a star in Love, Loss, and What I Wore and launched Style for Hire, a new online agency linking visitors with local stylists. Now the chick with the signature gray streak in her hair talks about her style, her biggest failure and why it's cool to be a regular girl in the world of high fashion.


Name: Stacy London
Position: Author, TV correspondent, fashion stylist and co-founder of Style for Hire
Resume: Interned with magazines and designers during college -- including a stint in the PR department at Christian Dior -- ultimately becoming a fashion assistant at Vogue and senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle. Worked as stylist for Kate Winslet, Liv Tyler and Katie Holmes, among others, and on advertising campaigns for Target, Covergirl and Calvin Klein. Co-host of TLC's What Not to Wear since 2003. Acting brand ambassador for Pantene, Woolite and Riders by Lee. Fashion reporter and correspondent for the Today show and Access Hollywood. Launched Style for Hire with business partner just weeks ago in September 2010.
Birthdate: May 25
Hometown: Manhattan, NYC
Education: Degree in philosophy and literature from Vassar College; graduated Phi Beta Kappa
Marital status: Single
First section of the Sunday Times: Style
Favorite TV show: Mad Men
Guilty pleasure: "Oh wait -- you mean aside from Mad Men? I guess it'd be black and white cookies."
Last book read: Makeovers at the Beauty Counters of Happiness by Ilene Beckerman. "It's a wonderful book that every single woman should read."
Twitter handle: @stacylondonsays

When did you first know that you had not only an interest in fashion, but a talent for styling other people?
Oh gosh, I'm not sure. I've always had an interest in fashion, ever since I was a little girl. Loved anything sparkly that looked like a cocktail waitress or a Moulin Rouge dancer. I don't think I really understood the difference in how to dress to models as opposed to how to dress real people until I started working at Vogue. I mean, that was fashion boot camp for me. That was watching how an image is created, and styling is certainly a part of that artistic process. But it wasn't until I was out of editorial and I started doing more commercials, even catalogs, and started to work with people with different body types that I really understood the way that the idea needs to be translated. It's just not a literal translation from a photograph on a model to say, a suburban housewife who's 5'4" and 160 pounds. You need a different set of tools. So to really answer your question, it's taken me 21 years to get there. I had to dress a lot of people.

Having started in print, what do you think fashion mags should do to stay relevant?
I really feel they're going to have to lean towards their websites. I mean, I don't know whether or not magazines will survive. I say that with sadness in my heart because there's nothing I love more than buying my 20 magazines and getting on a plane or a train and reading them and ripping out the pages. But I do feel like people more and more can get a lot of that information via the Web, so why not do that? And in a sense, I think you could do a monthly or weekly or daily magazine with oodles of information that's just Web-based instead of print-based. I don't know if that will ever happen, but I can certainly imagine a future where we're not using paper and we're using the Web. I can see it, but I don't love it.

"It's funny: I feel like I was almost too regular to be in fashion. I definitely have my bitchy side, but I don't know if I was ever super snotty enough for it."

You've been able to spread your expertise across a multimedia platform: TV, publishing, advertising. Which one comes most naturally to you and why?
Television for sure because I can't stop talking, so it's the perfect medium for me. I've never been uncomfortable on television. I've been doing live theater for the first time in my life and that is hard. But television's always been very easy. It's funny: I feel like I was almost too regular to be in fashion. I definitely have my bitchy side, but I don't know if I was ever super snotty enough for it. I don't know that I ever quite fit in.

You also hosted your own talk show, Fashionably Late with Stacy London. In your opinion, what was the downfall of that show and would you ever host a talk show again?
I feel like unfortunately I got caught in the crossfire of new administration at TLC but I think more importantly, it was the type of show that needed a little breathing room to grow. It was visually complicated, it was very fast-paced, it was not something that the TLC viewer had ever seen before, and I felt like it needed a little bit more time in order to gain more popularity. The other thing on our side of things that I think would've helped is I think we tried to delve into the higher end of fashion when everything should've been really accessible en masse. I consider that sort of to be my biggest failure to date. That show was everything to me, and I would love the opportunity to get it right. To be totally honest, I think it was the wrong show for TLC.

You're active in several cancer organizations. Why is cancer a subject that's obviously so near and dear to your heart?
It really started when I met these women from the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation at a party and they were telling me how unbelievably difficult it has been for women who've had mastectomies or double mastectomies because they lose all sense of their femininity and sexuality. It was the first time I realized that health and sickness could affect style and that these women were being robbed -- I mean, not just of common decencies, but that they were being robbed of things on a very deep, psychological level. I offer free makeovers for women who've had mastectomies and double mastectomies and are either in treatment or finally out of treatment and sort of trying to get their lives back because I think it's so important to use style as a curative tool. We're starting to see that on the road to rehabilitation, style can make a great deal of difference in the way that cancer victims feel about or perceive themselves.

"I stopped watching myself on TV a long time ago, like about seven years ago. And I've only been on TV for eight."

How has being on TV changed how you view yourself? Have you noticed any flaws or quirks that you hadn't before stepping in front of the camera?
I stopped watching myself on TV a long time ago, like about seven years ago. And I've only been on TV for eight. I try never to see myself on television. I get so upset that I can't believe how my eyes aren't the same size and they're in different places. My nose is just huge and some days I like it and some days I don't. So I just go out and do my thing and hope that somebody filmed it well, but I don't like to watch it.

You also work with a lot of brands and advertisers are often faulted for contributing to the lack of self-esteem in women. Do you think the advertising business is getting better or worse in its portrayal of real women?
I think it's gotten a lot better. Listen, I don't know if 15 years ago you would've seen me in a Pantene campaign. I think the Dove campaign was absolutely brilliant using real women. And I'll be totally honest: I think part of that has to do with the economy and the recession and people wanting to see real-life people. They don't want to see sort of the fake plastic version because that's not what life is like these days.

NEXT >> AvantGuildHey, How'd You Establish Yourself as The Budget Fashionista, Kathryn Finney?


Janelle Harris is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. She documents her editorial adventures at www.thewriteordiechick.com.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity. The foregoing is the sole property of WebMediaBrands Inc. The opinions and views expressed in the interviews and/or commentaries are solely those of the participants and are not necessarily the views of WebMediaBrands Inc., its affiliates or subsidiary companies.

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