Charlotte-Anne Fidler Interview

Creative Director, Charlotte-Anne Fidler, is my ‘Woman of Substance’ for September. Charlotte has spent her career creating beautiful fashion and lifestyle images for glossy magazines – including Vogue, Marie Claire, ELLE and US Glamour - and has styled celebrity covers including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Adele and Gwyneth Paltrow et al. In 2012 she moved from Hackney with her young family to an idyllic village in Wiltshire where she indulges her passion for gardening – in between freelance styling and looking after her two daughters, Anouk, 14 and Bo, 9.
We met for a drink at KPMG’s private members’ club, Number 20, in Grosvenor Street, Mayfair.

Charlotte, what a fantastically interesting career! You have met and worked with some of the world’s most talented people. Do tell us about your favourite moments.

I’ve loved almost every minute of my career. I’ve had the chance to travel the world, stay in wonderful places (the Hotel Bel Air was a favourite) and to work with extraordinary people. Favourite moments: meeting Beyonce and shooting Destiny’s Child’s last cover (they used it for their greatest hits album); running around a park in Brooklyn with the adorable Amanda Seigfried and her equally adorable dog, Finn; working with inspiring people like hairdresser Sam McKnight, make-up artists Mary Greenwell and Lisa Eldridge and creatives like Robin Derrick (ex-creative director of Vogue). And but my favourite part was always coming home!

Where do you start with a celebrity styling job? Do you have a system, a method or do you work in a more organic way each time?

For a magazine celebrity feature, I was always the creative director, too, so I would have a concept – perhaps inspired by the movie the celebrity was promoting or something about the celebrity herself – so that would be the starting point. For example, I thought Taylor Swift was a little Jean Shrimpton, so I styled her like a cool 60s girl. My references are often very 60s! Amanda Seigfried as a young Bardot; Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine Deneuve….Then I thoroughly research what shapes work best on their bodies. Even celebrities aren’t always sample size or model thin, so I have to prepare very thoroughly. I would often try all the planned outfits on my assistant on the morning of the shoot (useful for me, not so fun for her!) and literally shoot the looks in the different set-ups. By the time the celebrity arrived, we would have mapped out everything. Very organised! But with celebrities, you have to make it as painless as possible.

How do you see glossy fashion magazines in the future? Will there be a life for print or do you think digital will take over completely?

Magazines have been such a huge part of my life, I am hoping that there will always be a place in peoples’ lives for print. Particularly for glossy magazines where digital can’t replace the luxury of having this beautiful, weighty, glossy thing in your hands. But digital offers endless content and engagement possibilities that I hope magazines are smart enough to explore. All brilliant ways of getting your brand across in a creative and interactive way.

What is it about Instagram that has caught your imagination? You talk about its “positive and inspiring community” – do tell us more about your relationship with your followers.

I had found it hard to get excited about social media until Instagram came along. Then my agent encouraged me to use Instagram to ‘build my brand’ and I was hooked. What’s wonderful is that I can use each picture as a chance to create something beautiful every day. And to share that beautiful little thing with a fantastic group of people who always react positively - and have been as supportive and caring as close friends. It’s also been a great way to keep in touch with the people that I’ve worked with – the photographers, make-up artists, hairdressers – and love, but might not see every day. And a way to connect with like-minded creative people around the world. I’ve got to know and have good IG relationships with gardeners, interior designers and cat lovers from the US to South America and Australia!

You have created enviably chic, calm interiors and the most beautiful garden at your Wiltshire home. How do you feel your professional ‘eye’ has helped you create such an aesthetically pleasing home?

People in my world do seem to have beautiful homes – even if our speciality is not interiors. I was gardening as a small child and was interested in interiors long before I discovered fashion. I just wanted to make everything around me beautiful. I think it was that – and always devouring my mother’s collection of wonderful photographic books from Burt Stern to Eve Arnold – that developed my ‘eye’. I suppose that the balance and beauty that creates a great picture is what also makes a great interior or good garden design.

Do you have any exciting plans lined up?

I’m creating a brand! It’s not what everyone will expect from me – ie gardening or lifestyle – but I’ve seen a gap in the market and I’m going to fill it. It’s also a chance to build a new career and profile now that magazines aren’t so much in my life. I can’t say much more right now, but let’s just say that it will make my daughters very happy. We’re aiming to launch Spring 2018 if everything goes to plan.

You are a fan of Winser London’s collections and I know you have been impressed by our Miracle collections over the seasons. What is it about the Miracle styles that you appreciate?

My working life is so mixed – from art directing shoots to working from my kitchen table – that I need clothes that can cover all bases and, importantly, be comfortable. Days on set can be long and stressful but I need to look chic and ‘in charge’. That’s where the Miracle collection pencil skirts and dresses come in. When you have a 7am start, pulling on a dress that makes you look amazing and feel great is a no brainer. And there is something so sexy and powerful about a woman in a pencil skirt and heels. The Miracle Leggings are my go-to when I’m working from home (tempting tho’ it is, I draw the line about wearing my PJs all day!). It’s not easy to find a legging that does all the right things, but the Miracle styles do great things for my legs, are comfortable (a must when you are at your computer all day) and smart enough to wear to a meeting if I team them with a knit and a boot.

She loves all things digital and has 29,000 followers on Instagram- see @charlotte_Annefidler - where she posts fabulous images of her beautiful garden, watched over by her three leonine Maine Coon cats.