A few words with the super-talented stylist, himself:
RG: You’re very much the Grande Dame of fashion these days, dear – did you ever think you’d end up doing what you’re doing?
SF: It was never the plan to be at it this long. I didn’t really have any great ambition to do anything in particular. It’s quite a surprise to find myself, 25 years down the line, still styling. I guess it’s just that I couldn’t think what else I’d rather be doing (and less of the Grande Dame if you don’t mind).
RG: What did your career adviser suggest you should do instead?
SF: I think there may have been some discussion about accountancy as I have always had a good head for figures. As a youth I always fancied being a beach-comber, but I guess that’s not the greatest career-path.
RG: Is there a particular signature to your styling?
SF: That’s tricky, having had to look over a lot of it for this exhibition I guess I can see that a lot of it is quite clunky and perhaps amateur-looking at times. I’m not afraid of colour, tend not to follow trends and prefer more healthy looking boys.
RG: You are known for your casting, something that has ‘inspired‘ many others, and something we’re seeing more and more: ‘real people’ – do you see this too?
SF: I hadn’t noticed to be quite honest, but if that’s the case then all well and good. I like fashion to be inclusive, not exclusive.
RG: How do you know when enough is enough when you’re styling a look: ‘Do I layer another tee with this, or not?’
SF: Oh, I never know when enough is enough, Richard, actually, that is probably my signature style.
RG: It’s getting harder to be first with fashion: are kids on the street more aware about fashion than they were, say, twenty years ago?
SF: Definitely, there is so much more to choose from now and endless TV programmes and new magazines about it. It’s become a national obsession.
I think kids around now look as exciting, or even more so, than ever before.
RG: Do you think we’ll ever get away from the ’80s referential thing – it’s exhausting!
SF: God, I hope so. If I get asked one more time about what things were like in the eighties! I think it’s high time we got away from referencing past decades and started inventing something new and beautiful for right now.
RG: This retrospective of your work sounds great, how hard was it to edit your image choices?
SF: It was very difficult, Penny Martin (the curator) and I spent days going through all of my old work. Naturally, due to space and budget constraints, you end up having to ‘murder your darlings’, but I think we have edited it down to a comprehensive selection.
RG: Why pick the ones you picked?
SF: Well, they show the way I work with the three main protagonists: Nick Knight, Jason Evans and Alasdair McLellan, and then also the more
portrait-based work with other photographers I have worked with. I hope they will show the differing types of styling that I do.
RG: You and your polo shirts – how many do you own, anyway?!
SF: Not that many really, maybe six to eight. They’re comfortable and easy, I didn’t realise they were recognised as my ‘thing’.
All the above images plus more will feature.
Runs 17 July – 4 October 2009, at The Photographers’ Gallery, 16 – 18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW, 0845 262 1618, http://www.photonet.org.uk.