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Interview | Stylist Justine King

It’s been quite a while since we had the chance to catch up with one of our favourite Irish stylists, Justine King. Justine has been travelling all around the world working on exciting projects, which we’ve been keeping a close eye on. We finally had the chance to sit down and talk over coffee, discussing everything from the red carpet to this new editorial with photographer, Alex Sheridan and MUA, Nadine Reid, featuring models Conor Gonzales at Assets Model Agency and Eimear Helly at Distinct Model Management.

‘PS. I Love You’. 

Eimear wears Hoodie, Adidas @ Topshop; Coat, H&M; Trousers, Topshop; Boots, River Island; – Conor wears Jumper, H&M; Jacket, Nine Crows; Jeans, H&M; Trainers, River Island.

You’ve been so busy since we last spoke. What have you been up to? What’s changed in the world of Justine King?
Justine: I guess the biggest change is that I’ve gone full-time freelance which is exciting! I took the plunge at the beginning of the summer and have been delightfully surprised with how well it’s all going so far. I’ve had the opportunity to work on some really great projects across a broader scale than I had before- from VIP dressing to commercial styling projects.

I’ve also been able to focus on some writing, a long time passion of mine I had nearly neglected when I was juggling so many things. I covered New York Fashion Week for the Irish Times which was just one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my career to date! I also recently signed with an agency, 1st Option Models Management Production. I’ve worked with 1st Option for years, casting their models in shoots, and I have so much respect for Jules Fallon, Amy, Lou and the whole team and it is so exciting to now be a part of the family!

You’ve been dressing the stars on the red carpet a lot recently! Tell us about these opportunities and experiences. What’s your favourite thing about dressing for the red carpet?
Justine: Yes! I had the pleasure of dressing Amanda Byram who was hosting this year’s IFTAs. She had three dresses in total- one for red carpet, one to open the show and one for the second half. Amanda was a pleasure to style, firstly because she’s so stunning anything would look good on her, but secondly because she is so easy going. I definitely wanted to include some Irish design and pulled from a range of designers and then together we chose the final looks.

Amanda wore an Umit Kutluk caped gown on the red carpet which was perfect for her. She has worn Umit many times so he had a great understanding of what would fit her body best and also her personal style. Amanda also wore a beautiful dress by Jill De Burca at the Pride of Britain awards which we had initially optioned for the IFTAs, so it was fantastic to have her championing Irish fashion overseas. I love dressing for the red carpet, I only wish we had more opportunities in Ireland to do so. My ultimate dream would be to head out to LA for award season and dress for the Oscars and Grammys!!

Conor wears Shirt, Nine Crows; Jeans, H&M; Trainers, River Island.
Conor wears Shirt, Nine Crows – Eimear wears Jumper, H&M.

You’ve recently become freelance again. What in your opinion is the most challenging aspect of being a freelance creative in Ireland?Justine: Whatever your industry, I really think you’re either a freelance person or you’re not. It’s something I say to college students when they ask for advice in becoming a stylist. I warn them before they decide they want to be a stylist, that they need to decide if they want to be a freelancer. It definitely comes with challenges but luckily for me, the perks far outweigh these!

Since signing with the agency I have thankfully passed the challenge of chasing invoices on to someone else but that’s a definite downside to freelancing! Then I guess it’s keeping sane on the days you’re not busy and learning to take a day off when you can because there are months you work 20 days in a row. Definitely, my worst thing about working for myself is doing my own taxes but it’s just a part of the job and it’s actually the only downside I have found so far to being my own boss. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.

“This country is producing designers, stylists, photographers and fashion writers that are at a world class level.”

How do you think the industry is developing at the minute? Do you think it’s progressing in the right direction?
Justine: I think the Irish fashion industry is really exciting right now in terms of talent. This country is producing designers, stylists, photographers and fashion writers that are at a world class level. However, I just wrote an article for the Irish Times about the cultural fashion diaspora where I interviewed Don O’Neill, Philip Treacy and Danielle Romeril and all three admitted that although they’d love Dublin to be a world fashion capital, the market just isn’t big enough for designers to easily make a good living here. But I guess that comes with being a small country with a population of 4million. Compare that to England’s 53 million and it’s not difficult to work out why many designers choose to emigrate to grow their brand.

That said, it’s not all doom and gloom! I personally love the openness of the Irish fashion industry and the willingness people have to support one another. Going against the notorious reputation of the global fashion industry being cut throat and horrible, Ireland is too small for that nonsense, so for the most part, everyone gets along great and are happy to see each other do well!

Conor wears Hoody, H&M; Bomber Jacket, River Island; Bottoms, Nine Crows; Trainers, River Island; Hat, H&M.
Conor wears Pants, River Island; Jumper, H&M; Jacket, River Island; – Eimear wears Dress, H&M; Coat, H&M; Trainers, H&M; Hat, Nine Crows.

“I think we have seen such a vast improvement in Irish men’s style in recent years.”

What are your must-have trends for winter? What can you recommend to our readers?
Justine: No matter what the fashion season, I’d recommend investing in the staples before you buy into the trends. For men, a winter coat, a good pair of jeans, winter boots and a good suit (occupation-depending) are your four must-haves and that should be where you spend the most money because it’s what you’ll wear the most.

Then you can pick up what I call the interchangeable more cheaply- shirts, a parka jacket, “night out” shoes, trainers, a bomber jacket, extra jeans you wear less often, a knit jumper. In terms of colour this season, for men we’re seeing lots of burgundy, khaki and teal, which thankfully all work well on Irish skin tones.

Tell us your thoughts on Irish men and their style? (Be honest)
Justine: I think we have seen such a vast improvement in Irish men’s style in recent years. I’m not sure if it was a sociological thing for Irish men to formerly feel obscure in caring about their appearance and so left their mammies and then their wives do their shopping for them but all of that has changed. We’re seeing great men’s boutiques like Nowhere, Rebirth of Cool and Studio 54 pop up in Dublin, proving there is a market there for men to invest in really good quality fashion pieces.

I think the biggest improvement we’ve seen is in men’s suits! Years ago you’d go to a wedding or walk into an office and everyone is in a black or grey suit. Now men are really having fun with their tailoring options, using their fashion choices to express themselves and I suppose experiencing the fun of dressing up that women have enjoyed for centuries.

Conor wears Coat, H&M; Shirt, Nine Crows; Trousers, H&M; Hoody, H&M; Trainers, River Island; – Eimear wears Jumper, River Island; Boots, River Island; Jacket, Topshop; Leggings, H&M; Jumper, River Island.

What are your favourite stores to shop in? Do you shop online much?
Justine: I don’t shop a huge amount online for clothing, except when it comes to the Christmas madness and I can’t handle all the queues! I did almost all of my Christmas present shopping this year online, from the comfort of my own couch. But when it comes to clothes shopping, I just adore physically being in stores so shopping online sucks all the fun out of it for me. I like to feel the fabric and inspect the workmanship and although I rarely try things on in fitting rooms, I kind of know by holding it whether it’s going to fit me well or not. My favourite stores are Folkster, Om Diva and Avoca, as they’re just such lovely stores to be in! &

My favourite stores are Folkster, Om Diva and Avoca, as they’re just such lovely stores to be in! & Other Stories is another store that just provides such a nice shopping experience so I’m really excited it’s now in Dublin! Then my high street go-to stores are Zara, River Island and New Look.

Talk to us about the concept behind ‘PS I love you’.
Justine: The idea behind this shoot was a young love story but that kind of addictive, intense love you’ll probably only experience the very first time. We watched Rihanna’s “We Found Love” video a few times while our models were in hair & makeup as that was the kind of reference point for what we wanted to achieve. Two young lovers, hanging around in Dublin not really caring about doing anything but being together.

Alex Sheridan shot it in a very naturalistic way and for the styling, I had loads of fun with this kind of mash up of normcore and tailoring, merging pieces that really shouldn’t work together at all, which was complemented by our makeup artist Nadine Reid’s subtle splashes of face paint across the models’ faces.

What have you got planned for 2017? What can we expect to see?
Justine: I have so many 2017 plans, I probably need to rein them in a bit!  I’m not into making resolutions but I’m into making plans! You can expect lots more TV, lots more editorials and lots more writing as well as some other really exciting projects in the pipeline! But honestly if the next 12 months are as fun as the last 12 have been I’ll be delighted!

Conor wears Jumper, Nine Crows; Jeans, Nine Crows; Trainers, River Island; -Eimear wears Jacket, Topshop; Hoody,H&M; Pants, Topshop; Trainers, H&M.