You’ve met Brighton’s trailblazing musicians, actors and artists, forging vibrant careers on the international stage with trademark originality. In this series, we introduce you to the people who make it all happen, who make Brighton the culturally renowned city it is from behind the camera, behind the mixing desk, back in the green room.
First up, we’d like to introduce Abi Rigby, a stylist whose passion is sustainability, small designers and freeing her clients from that deeply damaging concept: ‘flattering’.
What does a stylist do, and what drew you to styling?
A stylist’s purpose depends mostly on who’s hiring you and for what. When I dress a band or individual artist, I work to communicate a concept or identity through dress. It’s about getting to know what makes the client feel great while nudging them out of their comfort zone. For a commercial shoot the focus is on the clothing and the way the designer wants their pieces to be received, so is less psychological, more practical. Overall I’d say a stylist presents the visual identity of an artist and the way they want their brand to be seen by bringing pieces together.
I was drawn to styling when I reflected on the way clothes have shaped my own life and confidence. As a kid I developed a gut feeling of what I liked in charity shops with my mum. High School and New Look trends really knocked that out of me and it wasn’t until I left my small town that I got it back. To me, styling helps people rediscover that bit of themselves they might have lost. Personal shopping in particular is great to build up a personal style again. It’s not about wearing something crazy, it’s about wearing something for yourself.
I hate the idea of “flattering” clothing and the boundaries we put on our expression because we once got told a bit of our body didn’t fit an ideal.
It’s almost impossible to escape, but reaching the freedom of wearing clothes to create a concept or feeling as well as confidence really excites me. For me, when I shift focus from the body to focus on visual language through style, that’s when I feel strongest.
What are some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on?
A favourite project for me was working with videographer Stiwdio Dyfi and photographer Tatyana for the designer Rosie Evans. Working with a group of Welsh creatives in a slate mine felt really important. On a personal level it reconnected me to an area I grew up resenting, but also connecting Rosie’s up-cycling to a disused and neglected mine gave the shoot a strangeness. I like shoots that provoke more questions than just the aesthetic. Slow fashion, sustainability and Welsh history really shape my work.
What are your top tips for shopping for yourself?
Do your research. Whether you’re getting inspiration from people you see online or looking up local designers, go out with the intention of finding a particular item.
In the same way, think sustainability where you can. @sustainablefashionforum and @fash_rev have some great articles that discuss the ways we should change our approach to consumption for sustainability. It’s not about shaming people for shopping fast fashion, but changing the ideas around outfit-repeating, up cycling and trends.
Trust yourself. It all comes back to the idea of trusting your gut. If we’re able to move away from our ties to what we think society likes, we’re able to disconnect from the idea that we have to be on each new trend. Instead clothes can be a personal expression of taste.
Having said that, it was a massive privilege that my mum took me round charity shops when I was younger, and that I have time to shop and research. It’s more complicated than just changing habits, and it’s important to get these conversations happening with awareness not judgement.
How would you ideally approach styling with a view of being more planet conscious?
By getting to know more small designers. A lot of the time when people hear I’m a stylist they expect me to know every fact about couture designers and fashion history. To me, the excitement for a brand comes in when I see sustainable consciousnesses and hand made pieces that find value in the history of the neglected.
Erinn Hayhow creates using natural dyes and puts the planet at the forefront, linking nature and modernity with oversized androgynous silhouettes. Joshua Samuels brings the concept of reworked into everyday street wear and culture with grungy shapes crossing flowers and bright knits. Cat Rose O’Brien combines witchy designs and historical reference. Rosie Evans, Sunday London, Quiet Ceremony, Ella Rose Label… these are some of the many brands that grab me and view the future of fashion as sustainable and handmade.
Renting pieces, borrowing from friends and restyling my own clothes for shoots is how I mostly go about my fittings. Stores like Bleaq, hundred showroom and Hurr are great for rentals. Alongside this, using items from haberdasheries and up-cycling can create a whole new look from the same items I used a previous week. At a video shoot for artist O Hell, we added chains and pins to a second hand ball gown, which I now use for jewellery and sewing. Ideally I’d always be more conscious from the beginning, buying items I know I can multipurpose.
What are the most underrated parts of an outfit?
Underwear. A great underwear choice is the foundation of an outfit and your comfort.
Does Brighton have a style?
Brighton’s style feels competitive. Who can go furthest, who looks like they care the least.. but I think this competition can push us to revolutionary ideas if we get it right. Brighton gives people the space to push their boundaries and it’s inspiring. There are so many creatives, every sector and its style merges into one big melting pot with people scrambling for originality where originality is actually the trend and boring becomes original. It’s all fascinating and I love Brighton; we should all just admit that we care so much.
Find Abi on Instagram via @4bigailstyles for styling and creative direction.
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