New Look Style The Nation
For those of you who enjoy a Saturday morning lie-in (I’m not having a go, I’m sure you’ve earned it), you may not yet be familiar with the recent channel 4 show, ‘New Look Style the Nation’. A nationwide search led by high street giants New Look in order to find the next big styling talent – so basically, an X-Factor for stylistas.
The six-week series has seen the ‘Style Panel’ (which is made up of award winning British Designer Giles Deacon and New Look Group Creative Director Barbara Horspool), along with celebrity guests, give their critique as our would-be stylists compete in a head-to-head catwalk competition; or as I prefer to call it, a style-off! The winning collection is decided by T4 viewers in a live vote, with the overall winner landing their dream job as a New Look stylist.
So here we are, week six and tomorrow morning is the grand final. I have to admit, I have been completely fascinated by this show. As a stylist myself, it has been extremely refreshing and even inspiring to see such young talent, creativity and raw passion coming from all warps of life throughout the UK. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to run a quick interview with Alex Gaulton – the ONLY male finalist. Evidentially, fashion is still very much a female dominated industry, so I was eager to quiz Alex and find out exactly how he had found the whole experience and especially how he felt about representing the blokes!
In case you are not familiar with the show and Alex, check out the episode below which was the full Cardiff event:
FashionBeans Interviews Alex Gaulton
FashionBeans: So Alex, as well as being the only male in the final six, you’re also the only person to style a menswear catwalk so far in the show. Do you feel as though this has been an advantage or disadvantage to you?
Alex: Being given the opportunity to style menswear looks has given me a great opportunity to really show that menswear can look just as good on the catwalk as the womenswear looks. As the only guy I now almost feel as though it is my duty to make them look as good as possible and I really hope to do it justice.
FB: And what do you think the advantages of a man styling womenswear could be?
Alex: I think that the advantages of being a man styling womenswear is that purely by being a guy, I see things differently, therefore I have a fresh take on the clothes and looks. I can also be 100% focused on the brief set, without my own personal style affecting my work. I am actually really pleased that I’ve had the opportunity to style some womenswear looks as it has given me a chance to show that I am capable of styling both genders and still put my own individual stamp on the looks.
FB: I remember seeing your very first audition interview with Nick Grimshaw, you mentioned that you hadn’t really told anyone that you were auditioning. Why was that?
Alex: Well, where I come from there isn’t a huge fashion scene and there definitely aren’t many guys who work in fashion. I suppose I was just a bit worried about what people might think about me wanting to become a stylist. I suppose that’s been one of the main things that I’ve learnt from this whole process, if you enjoy something and are passionate about it, you really just have to go for it.
FB: And for someone in a similar situation, what advice would you give them?
Alex: People are always going to judge you, no matter what you do. But you also have to remember that as long as you’re doing something positive, for every single person who doesn’t approve, there will be at least a dozen that will admire what you’re doing. Just stay true to yourself, don’t let the negativity affect you and I think you can achieve almost anything.
FB: How did you first become interested in fashion? What is its main appeal for you?
Alex: The thing that I love about fashion is how out-there it can be; there really are no limits. You can be as loud or as conservative as you like and still make an impact. I just love the fact that I can use it to express myself without even having to open my mouth; so being able to style an entire collection would be an amazing opportunity to be able to express myself in so many different ways to so many people.
FB: How would you describe your own style and who is your style icon?
Alex: My own style definitely borderlines somewhere between the smart/casual divide. I like to wear tailored jackets and blazers but will I often dress it down slightly with shorts or tees. I also love the urban look, oversized tees, chinos and high tops; that sort of thing. My style icon has to be George Lamb though, as I have stated throughout the show. Everything about him is wicked and he’s a real inspiration to men’s fashion.
FB: Where did you gather inspiration for the 3 looks in your first live show?
Alex: Well the brief for my first catwalk was indie, so my inspiration came from people such as Russell Brand and Jamie Hince. I think they have both demonstrated classic indie looks really well so I loosely based my looks on their style, but of course incorporated my own personal edge. I was really pleased with how they looked on the catwalk in the end though; it was definitely a very proud moment for me.
FB: What are your favourite menswear trends of this season?
Alex: This season I’m really into tailoring. I love looking through street style blogs; especially from the menswear fashion weeks, I’ve spotted some guys wearing it very well. I also love the excess of colour that’s being used recently; I feel that it’s been very refreshing for menswear.
FB: What would you say are the three items that every guy should own?
Alex: I personally think that first and foremost, all men should have the staple pieces that can quite easily be either dressed up or toned down covered. So I’d say a perfectly fitting navy suit, some good knitwear, and standard straight/slim fit pair of jeans in a dark wash. I know they aren’t the most exciting pieces but they are all definite must-haves.
FB: Have you seen any of the New Look A/W collection? If so, how is it looking?
Alex: I have actually. The other day I got to see the A/W 2011/12 collection and I have also been lucky enough to work with it on a photo shoot. There has been a new menswear design team working on the collection with completely fresh ideas and it really shows. I think everybody will be pleasantly surprised with it and I can’t wait to see it in the shops.
FB: And lastly, what will you take away from this whole experience?
Alex: I’ve honestly learnt so much these past couple of months; it really has been a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’ve learnt so much about the industry and how it all works from my amazing mentor Kat Byrne and I also now have a proper understanding of what is really required to make it in this industry. But I think the most valuable lesson that I have learnt is to always follow your instinct and if you believe that something looks good and it represents you, then go for it! We are all guilty of spending far too much time worrying about what other people might say or think, when in reality, it can often do us more harm than good.
FashionBeans would like to send a big thank you to Alex for taking the time to answer our questions and we wish him the best of luck in tomorrows final.
You can catch and vote for Alex on New Look Style the Nation Grand Final,
tomorrow morning at 11.20am on Channel 4.
Alex Gaulton Inspired Style
So if you take the time to watch Alex’s episode above, you can see him wearing some great outfits throughout the whole process. In order to help you get the look, we have put together some of the key pieces you will need from current collections: