Model, writer, mother, blogger and, as I discovered the other week, a real laugh too. If ever there were a candidate for major life/looks/wardrobe envy it’s Laura Bailey.
Over the past 15 years Laura has been starred in campaigns for Temperley London, Guess Jeans, L’Oreal and is currently the face of Radley London. Having also found the time to write for Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar and The Telegraph to name but a few, it’s universally acknowleged that’s Bailey’s much, much more than just a pretty face.
Oh and let’s not forget that she’s travelled the world and had two gorgeous (I assume) children too. Like I said, Laura Bailey is someone who’s achievements and sheer loveliness could coax the green eyed monster out of even the most Christian souls. I tried to put my jealousy aside last week when I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to interview Laura and discovered that besides being in posession of beauty, brains and impeccable style, she’s also unfairly likeable.
LPA: Having graduated from Southampton University with a first class degree in English Literature, a career as a writer seems like a natural step, but how did you get into modelling?
LB: I’m afraid to say it was the cliché of being picked up on the Kings Road. I had never considered modelling before and I went along with it almost as a dare at first. But when you’ve been a student, once you start working, making money, travelling and having an amazing time it becomes your career even if you initially thought it was just a kind of holiday job. But the great thing about modelling for me, even at the beginning, was that it supported my other dreams. I always wrote and had so many other interests but modelling is how I’ve made my living and I’m so grateful for the lucky, strange coincidence which made it happen.
LPA: Fashion journalism is one of the most competitive and sought after careers around. What was your first big break and how did you get it?
LB: Well I think it’s a very different world now due to the diverse access to the industry, it wasn’t like that when I first started. My break, so to speak, was when Conde Nast very first went online and I’d write a weekly New York stories for GQ online. Embarrassingly I faxed my copies over from my little apartment! It was such a gift at the time as it made me look at my New York adventures in a different way and it was a really good discipline. So I’ve now ended up very much back at home with Conde Nast, they absolutely gave me my first break.
LPA: What advice would you give to someone hoping to work as a fashion writer?
LB: Number one, just write, because I think a lot of people including me spend a lot of time talking about writing and worrying about writing. It’s also really important to let people read what you’re writing which I think is another huge fear, but less so for people like you (bloggers) and for me in my Vogue blog because you write, it’s done, it’s out there and you move on. Bottom line, just write and don’t be afraid to put it out there.
LPA: How do you balance being a writer and a model? Do you find doing one benefits the other?
LB: I think each fed a different side of my personality. There is absolutely a side of me that is happiest as a complete loner, either reading or writing and then there’s another much more show off, extrovert side of me which is fulfilled through the modelling. So I think I’ve been really lucky with my split personality to somehow find two careers that fit… That doesn’t sound like a very healthy answer but I think it’s the honest one!
LPA: You also somehow find the time to be a cultural ambassador for the British Fashion Council, what does that role entail and why did you decided to take it on?
LB: It’s a relatively new role and the remit is very broad but to give you an example, the focus of my work with the BFC right now is that I’m heavily involved with this new FASH/ON FILM festival which launched in February but is seriously premiering in September. That involves matchmaking directors with designers, suddenly becoming a producer which is totally new for me and really looking for other ways to tell fashion stories beyond the catwalk. And also, on a more frivolous front, my role involves waving the flag for British designers by wearing the clothes and having fun with it.
LPA: What’s your failsafe outfit formula?
LB: Kind of. I’m not the kind of person who puts an outfit out the night before because I could have an idea that I want to wear my favourite little black dress but then be in the complete opposite mood. I don’t plan and I don’t have a complete safety net but I do have my favourite things that I’ll wear until they fall to pieces and designers that I go back to again and again like Stella (McCartney), Jonathan Saunders, Chanel, Roland Mouret, Bella Freud for everyday kintwear… Admittedly I’m saying my friends but I like clothes with an emotional story as well. If I was forced to choose, I probably have 10 pieces that either I love for nostalgic and emotional reasons, or perhaps in a spoilt way because they were made especially for me or things that might look really boring and simple but I just can move fast in and love to wear.
LPA: Over the past few years we’ve seen a lot of young, independent London designers really starting to gain recognition within the fashion industry. Which of them do you see making it long term and why?
LB: I love the work of James Long and some of the younger menswear brands like Folk and E.Tautz. I’m now starting to look more at smaller menswear and accessory brands and off-schedule designers. An example of an off-schedule show I really loved last season was Sister by Sibling. I’ve followed them for so long and it just felt like their time. It’s really exciting for me to see that journey and how a brand I’ve followed for ages suddenly captures everybody’s attention, plus I love their clothes. I’m a terrible shopper but when I saw their collection I went and did an uncharacteristic advance order and wrote a big, fat cheque… That’s quite unusual for me!
LPA: During your career as a travel writer, you must have been to countless incredible places. What were your top three destinations and why?
LB: Firstly Rwanda which I visited when I was pregnant with my son – so it was probably ill-advised in the first place – because of the incredible political story of Rwanda and getting to tell that story. The combintation of that and going trekking in the volcanoes to see the Gorillas which had been a dream of mine for so long that I couldn’t cancel it just because I was pregnant! For absolute spoilt, Princess, model paradise I’d have to say Sonava Fushi in the Maldives just because I needed that kind of disappearing act at that time in my life. Then finally for hardcore adventure I’d have to say Kilimanjaro but I’d never do anything like it again in my life. It’s very hard to pick a favourite though because each place I’ve visited has it’s own beauty.
LPA: You’ve been a Vogue.com guest blogger for some time now, what do you think of the relationship between print and online journalism? Do you think online will eventually replace print or the two can continue to co-exist?
LB: I really enjoy writing my blog but I believe, perhaps optimistically that there’s absolutely a place for both. I love the idea of a paper magazine becoming something more collectable, something to treasure. I still have memories of reading my mother’s old Vogues and I hope my daughter will do the same with my old magazines. For now, I like the mixture of print magazines and the fast pace of online and the diverse voices if offers. But if I’m really honest, when something I’ve written or edited is out on paper it feels slightly more real. I really hope there will continue to be a place for both but I think it’s a big debate going forward.
Love Ella. X