/ Fashion

Text by PAUL GORMAN. Portrait by LAURA COULSON. 12/11/2017


“Catching up on some sleep!” That’s top of the list of ambitions for Britain’s hottest fashion journalist and curator, Lou Stoppard.

But judging by her current whirlwind of activity—we collar the 27-year-old on a rare day off in London at the tail end of a multi-country tour of the F/W17 menswear shows—it doesn’t look like Stoppard will be ticking off that item from her wish list anytime soon.

“I’ve had four nights in my own place in months,” says Stoppard, whose exhibition North: Identity, Fashion, Photography has received rave reviews.

Staged in the Beatles’ home city of Liverpool with co-curator and academic Adam Murray, North explores the influence of England’s northern cities and landscape on contemporary fashion and visual culture, presenting the work of such vital image makers as Alasdair McLellan—who has created his first film installation for public display at the show—as well as Elaine Constantine and Jamie Hawkesworth.

Contributing artists include Jeremy Deller and Mark Leckey, and fashion designers and stylists are also showcased: a parka from Raf Simons’ A/W 2003 collection Control, which featured graphics from Peter Saville’s archive of work for such groups as Joy Division and New Order, is exhibited alongside work from Christopher Shannon and memories of growing up in Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Scottish border from stylist Simon Foxton.

Among new pieces is a collaborative effort from interiors designer Ben Kelly (his résumé includes Manchester’s legendary ’80s Hacienda nightclub) and Off-White’s Virgil Abloh, who is particularly tight with Kanye West.

It was Stoppard who put Abloh and Kelly together; she encountered Yeezy herself a couple of years back for an episode in the series of filmed Q&As she has compiled as editor of photographer Nick Knight’s online fashion resource SHOWStudio (Stoppard also hosts SHOWStudio’s online panel discussions critiquing the world’s catwalk extravaganzas as they happen).

West followed in the footsteps of Björk, Juergen Teller and Kate Moss by engaging with Stoppard as part of the In Camera series. During their revealing chat, he expressed his regrets about being a College Dropout (per the title of his 2004 debut), discussed topics from racism to ADD and talked about gaining respect for his fashion designs.

The encounter (available to view at showstudio.com) conveys Stoppard’s conversational technique and ability to simultaneously relax and draw out her subjects, in this case using the In Camera format of questions submitted by members of the public.

“Because of the huge shadow he casts over pop culture through fashion, no one felt more right for In Camera than Kanye,” says Stoppard. “It was actually a privilege. I respected how he approached the interview with honesty. Someone asked a brilliant question about—and I’m paraphrasing—whether the black female is celebrated or held back in his work, and he gave a really considered answer about misogyny. Also, I was so nervous; the media coverage described me as only 24 in quite a loaded way, but it was aptly loaded because it was pretty terrifying …”

In recent years, Stoppard—who graduated with a degree from Oxford University before undertaking a master’s in fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins—has also become a regular contributor to publications from the Financial Times and Vogue to Britain’s hilarious postfeminist satirical biannual, Mushpit.

And last year she dipped her toe into curation for the first time with the exhibition Mad About the Boy at London’s Fashion Space Gallery.

“At SHOWStudio we did a series called Girly, about fashion’s fascination for overt, saccharine, almost cartoonish femininity, and wanted to find out whether it was regressive or could be in any way claimed as political and feminist,” says Stoppard. “That was really popular, particularly among college students, so I developed Mad About the Boy as a parallel project to look at youth, menswear and the ways in which idealized views of the teenage boy are constructed.”

This in turn prompted Stoppard to join forces with Adam Murray on North, which also started life as a SHOWStudio project. “We wanted to put on an exhibition that linked place and space and creativity and also investigate areas of our culture such as ideals and stereotypes,” says Stoppard. “In a way we realized we could do this by looking at the ways in which the north of England has been documented and also how it becomes the backdrop in fashion photography, for example.”

Meanwhile, preparations are under way for Stoppard’s first book: Together studies the most potent fashion collaborations of our times. Think design duos such as Viktor & Rolf and Jonathan Anderson and Benjamin Bruno, photographers Inez & Vinoodh and design/stylist partnerships like Rick Owens and Michele Lamy or Marc Jacobs and Katie Grand.

“I’m really interested in unpacking what makes creative relationships tick, whether it be stylists who work with particular photographers or designers who either work together or have people in their lives who are inspirational and central to their creativity,” says Stoppard. “It can be very complex, particularly since no two people work together in the same way.”

With a New York exhibition coming up for an undisclosed fashion brand—details are currently under wraps—Stoppard’s dance card is marked for the foreseeable future.

Looks like catching up on that sleep is just going to have to wait.

Together by Lou Stoppard is published by Rizzoli in the U.S. and U.K. in fall 2017