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WOMEN OF THE WORLD - RACHEL FANCONI
WOMEN OF THE WORLD
Everyone needs a Rachel; she understands her clients as if there they are family and works intelligently behind the scenes to make each person feel confident and shine using her rather impressive creative skills.
Rachel shares some interesting insights in our interview.
KIM WINSER, OBE
How would you describe your everyday style?
Off duty, I love the new generation of loungewear, inspired by yoga clothes and using beautiful stretchy, soft fabrics. If I’m working at home, I have a zip-up jumpsuit that is easy to wear and envelopes me in cosiness. I love dressing up, too, and relish the opportunity to go glam occasionally. I’m a fan of great tailoring. With a well-cut trouser suit, you can change the top and accessories you are wearing to add glamour. I’ll go from a white t-shirt to one of Kim Winser’s stretch silk blouses - perhaps the pussy-bow style - for evening, and maybe add a pair of heels (though I’m wearing flats much more these days).
I like reds, oranges and greens, but I normally revert to a navy, black and khaki palette. I love an interesting bold, dark floral and am rather susceptible to stripes, which are a stylish default. I think for many women, dressing becomes more instinctive as we get older. We become more comfortable going with a gut feeling, if we like something and it makes us feel good, and we are less swayed by trends or what other people might think.
Are you a clothes hoarder?
How is dressing other people different to dressing yourself?
How do you approach your work as a stylist?
When I’m working with a client, I have those discussions and have a kind of style shorthand in my head so I can choose a range of pieces for them. I then hang a selection of things on the rail and see if they naturally want to try certain things. I really get a boost seeing women blossom when they put something on that I’ve sourced for them. It can be incredibly hard work to pull together the right garments - it’s not just “shopping” - but it’s a real privilege to be in a position to be able to boost someone’s sense of confidence like that, whether it’s a film star, a footballer or a member of the public who I’m styling for a newspaper interview.
Occasionally, when I read about incredible medics who save lives or scientists who develop vaccines, I can feel like my job is rather frivolous and trivial, then I remember the power of clothes to elevate self-esteem and that is universal. If I am trusted by my clients, and they can rely on me to empower them in their own professional lives, then I’m okay with that.
Who or what has influenced your style over the years?
Are you an accessories person? What are your must-haves?
I love the way society isn’t prescriptive about dress codes and what is ‘right’ for certain occasions anymore. That means accessories are tools to help transform an outfit for different situations. It does mean clothes become more versatile and we get more value out of the things we love wearing.
Do you believe in age-related style rules?
The digital era has had a huge impact on style. It has democratised the way we dress and taken the power away from designers and fashion editors. If anyone is out there feeling they can’t wear something for any reason, they will find women on Instagram or blogs or whatever who look fabulous and hopefully give them the confidence to go there.
Congratulations on your MBE, which was awarded by Theresa May in her final list of nominees as Prime Minister. You’ve achieved numerous forms of peer and industry recognition and sporting medals and trophies over the years. What does this Honour mean to you?
To discover the MBE was for my broadcasting work and for promoting women in sport was a fabulous surprise, because I’m so passionate about that. Sport must reflect wider society: we are definitely seeing more girls and women participating and becoming involved in sport at all levels, but we have to make sure that there aren’t barriers to that. The more visible women are in different fields, the more uptake there is and the standard improves and it becomes something people take notice of. Men are watching women’s football, cricket or golf on TV, and young girls are seeing that normalised as something they can aspire to. Or hearing women commentating or hosting coverage of men’s sport. That is what is gratifying to me, and perhaps had I received an Honour in my 30s, I might not have been as appreciative of what it symbolises.
I feel very fortunate to be in a situation that even as I approach 50, I am professionally on the ascendant, which wouldn’t have been the case a few years back. It’s great there are more female role models of a certain age in the media, carving a path and keeping it real. I love Jo Whiley, for example: she is full of youthful energy, and she’s comfortable in her skin. I am the age I am and I’m proud of that and want to be authentic, with as much passion and energy as I can so I can continue doing the job I love. I am lucky to work with lots of young exciting people and that gives you stimulus. Working through perimenopause can sometimes feel an effort, but I never underestimate how lucky I am to do this as a job, so I try hard to live in the moment and be grateful.
You have attracted some great guests and had some interesting conversations on your podcast, The Mid.Point. How did that come about and what’s the thinking behind it?
I have found that sometimes, especially during the pandemic, speech radio can leave me anxiety-ridden, and podcasts provide a different audio experience. I listen to Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett’s Parenting Hell, Matthew Syed’s Sideways and the Desert Island Discs archive at home, in the car or on my walks.
Finally, you have an incredibly demanding work schedule, do lots of hands-on charity work, keep to a demanding exercise regime and you have teenage children. How do you relax?