Ella Buchanan: Milan was always a long term goal for me. I felt I wasn’t ready to work as a stylist in Milan yet, but the truth is we’re never ready. So one day I decided, "F*&%k it, I’m moving to Milan". This was during COVID so I had people literally telling me I’m crazy. I had just a few shoots in my portfolio and barely any contacts. I can’t say that opportunities landed on my lap: everything I’ve achieved is because I created those opportunities by reaching out to designers, photographers and magazines that I aspire to work with.
EB: HUSTLE, HUSTLE, HUSTLE. Reach out to designers, magazines and photographers you admire, even if you’re a newbie in this industry. You’d be surprised how many people appreciate your courage and assertiveness. Also, make sure to have savings or a side job because like any new business, it's likely to make little or no money in the beginning.
EB: For me, fashion and styling is a form of self-expression, so you’re spot on about my work reflecting my personality! I’m naturally drawn to mixing feminine, playful and colourful clothes. But I can say that after each shoot, I learn and improve my styling skills, so it’s a combination of instinct and learning over time. Practice really does make perfect!
EB: I still can’t believe it (and won’t believe it until the issue comes out!) that I’ve just achieved one of my career dreams — working for Vogue was always a big dream of mine and I never would have imagined that I would achieve it now. I thought I needed at least another five to ten years to achieve that. As for my next goals, I want to do more art directing, which I was doing recently for Vogue Portugal. I love styling, but most of all I love creating an overall concept and message; it's something I’m really passionate about. My dream would be to do this for one of my favourite Italian brands, like Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli, Gucci or Versace.
EB: The biggest challenges I face as a stylist are lack of time and sample logistics. Last year I shot a magazine cover and was only given two days to prepare everything AND it was during fashion week (meaning that the designers and press offices were already extremely busy) BUT somehow I managed to pull it off. I still don’t know how, but in this world anything is possible. With lack of time, try to stay calm and remember: we are just putting together pretty clothes, we are not saving lives here! Try to enjoy what you’re doing and not take it TOO seriously.
As for logistics, it's hard to manage where all the samples come from and where to return them. For one shoot you may have forty garments from fifteen different press offices. I’m not at the level to have an assistant for every shoot, so right now I manage all my own logistics which can be quite a headache. I’m really grateful that I was recently introduced to Sève, which has been extremely helpful from both an organisational and creative point of view: I can track my pulls as well as put together looks and present them to clients in a tidy and professional manner.