Nathalie Croquet - Fashion Stylist #1
This month we're interviewing Nathalie Croquet, Fashion Stylist. Nathalie Croquet created the SPOOF series in which she staged herself parodying the advert images seen in magazines. She recently launched her very own online magazine: Le détail qui tue.
Tell us about your career...
I had chosen a career path in archeology, I came to Paris to attend l'École du Louvre and to study History of Art at Paris IV Sorbonne. My first summer job was for a magazine, it only took me a month to become an addict. I didn't need more to tell myself I would work for the press. I quickly became acquainted with the best, I worked as an assistant at the Paris Office of Vogue USA where I learned how to become a photo-stylist, with the greatest photographers and the notorious models - those who became top-models -, then I worked as a junior fashion editor for the admirable Marie Claire BIS and Marie Claire. Then followed several years as a free-lancer, until today, working for numerous French and international magazines and working in advertising.
What does creating a photo or a fashion series entail in concrete terms?
The path is simple to explain, the result harder to get. We attend fashion shows to see the clothes, we go to the “open doors” organised by press offices to discover as many items as possible. Then comes the time to think in order to imagine our subjects after “digesting” the thousands of clothes and accessories seen before. Then comes the time to submit those subjects and themes to the magazines' fashion editors. A fashion subject also means choosing the most suitable photographer, the one who will best translate the idea and also the formation of a team: model, hair stylist, make-up artist, and a location, for the imagined fashion pages to become real thanks to everyone's talent. Then comes the D-day of the shooting, when magic should be at work.
Working as a photo-stylist is a job which fires the imagination, could you tell us what it's like behind the scene?
You need to be organised and to be able to carry out several jobs at the same time. There's nothing glamorous about carrying tons of suitcases for a shooting.
What is your worst professional blunder?
I don't know how to lie. Last year, I was looking at a collection displayed on hangers. The stylist came towards me and asked me what I thought about it. Having disliked his collection I moved towards one single item and said: “That one is good”, which, in other words, meant I did not like the rest. Quite embarrassing!
What is essential for your job?
Moving, moving quickly from one place to another, to see, touch, meet people; my scooter is a very important element for me.
You've set up your own online magazine, Le détail qui tue, could you tell us a bit more about your approach?
It is often quite frustrating to be behind the photographer. During a shooting, the stylist shares her ideas but the “final cut” is the prerogative of the one who presses the button! With all the new tools, I have felt empowered to create something of my own, a magazine with fashion and beauty videos, and my cultural environment. It's a terrific adventure, I set up my subjects, I create a magazine the way I would have liked to for others. LE DÉTAIL QUI TUE is becomnig something I really like, beautiful and funny at the same time, or so I think!
5 pieces of advice for someone choosing this career path?
- Work as an intern for a magazine fashion editior
- Have some solid general knowledge and have a keen interest in many things
- Respect the clothes and accessories lent for shootings, return them properly folded and carefully wrapped (a secret to last long in this career)
- Befriend photo-assistants, they are tomorrow's photographers
- Be yourself and work tirelessly
The saying is that “the shoemaker's children go barefoot”, what is it like for fashion editors?
When I began my career, personal looks were less important, which is not exactly the case today. Frenck stylists are famous for being the most adventurous, mixing up vintage and contemporary pieces, contrary to American stylists and their required total look and compulsory high heels, a uniform to respect in oder to be respected over there.
What kind of female press do you read and what do you expect from fashion images you find in them?
I look at a lot of magazines on my ipad, it's more ecological and faster. I greatly enjoy the British press, which is by far more creative. I find what's unexpected, a freedom of tone and a good sense of humour.
With your SPOOF project, you highligh the discrepancy between the image of the perfect woman seen through luxury ads and true women. Do you think this discrepancy should be erased or is it necessary?
Things are changing, for instance with the Vivienne Westwood ads or Celine's ads with octogenarian writer Joan Didion. Yet how boring would it be to see too many supposedly “normal” or aged women. The human eye is attracted to beauty, in art, in our daily life, for instance by simply looknig at a beautiful girl when you walk the streets. The fashion industry needs to sell and uses the aestheticism of models and actresses, women who fire the imagination. Yet this beauty is faked with the overuse of digital retouching. The techniques are offensive. But the general public is not a credulous fool, or at least, a project like the SPOOF parodies gives a few keys to analyse, decipher, read into adverts.
Our last question is the one Marie Le Cerf wished to ask you through us: “I nominate Nathalie Croquet, a photo stylist, who has had the brilliant idea of putting herself in models' shoes, via her SPOOF project. I'd like to ask her if she also intends to replace them on the catwalks.”
Dear Marie, I have never told you that once in my life I had been on the catwalk as a model, with people looking at me. I was so scared that my knees chattered like teeth, I walked like a robot. The producers even had to cut out my performance while editing the video. Never ever would I do this again!
Who would you nominate for the next interview?
I wish to nominate Stéphane Saclier, in charge of his eponymous press office. “Stéphane, could we reveal the little surprise you have in store for journalists for your next pressday yet?”
“A secret to last long in this carrer? Respect the clothes lent for shootings, return them properly folded and carefully wrapped”