My Life In Fashion: Laura Bailey

One of Britain’s most successful models, a Vogue contributing editor, a Chanel muse… there are few fashion boxes Laura Bailey has left unticked. Now adding a new collaboration with Iris & Ink to her CV, we spoke to her about personal style, her favourite red carpet looks and why you can always count on a little black dress.
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My earliest fashion memory is piles of old Vogues in my childhood kitchen and my pursuit of the perfect neon running spikes. I used to love trawling charity shops looking for the perfect grunge-y oversized trench coat. I remember really wanting pointy sling backs instead of schoolgirl brogues, too. Funny – now I’d love the brogues. My first high street purchase was a tiny pale grey mini ‘school’ skirt with a zip that went the entire way up so you could control the split! It was from H&M and definitely not regulation uniform, but I loved it. 

Technically, I didn’t buy it, but I suppose my first designer purchase was when I first moved to New York. Marc Jacobs took me under his wing and gave me the most beautiful tweed Julie Christie style coat. I still wear it now and will always treasure it and remember that moment in time – specifically his generosity. 

I have learnt that personal style is made easier if you have some kind of uniform. It’s about building base layers on which to riff.

My style is probably most influenced by 90s New York. At the time I was modelling and travelling the world, and most of my wardrobe was from the 26th St. flea market. Madonna was my earliest style icon. And Zola Budd. I loved that she ran barefoot. 

My most worn items of clothing are undoubtedly old Levi's and a Chanel jacket, my beloved tennis whites and my selection of LBDs. If the house was on fire, I’d also save a tiny pair of gold sequin slippers my friend Thandie Newton gave my daughter as a baby. Then I’d run back in for the Chanel star necklace I wear every day, and the vintage cotton nighties and sundresses I have collected on my travels.  

The most extravagant fashion show I can remember was a Chanel cruise show at the Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc. It was an extraordinary experience at one of my favourite hotels in the world. But my coolest fashion moment ever has to be supper with Dr Dre and my friend Liberty Ross on my birthday in Malibu. Or the first time I went to the Oscars, standing in line between Julia Roberts and Jane Fonda – the latter was dressed in bodycon silver sequins. 

M BARON/BEI/SHUTTERSTOCK; C KARABA/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

My favourite red carpet look has to be the hot pink gown Emilia Wickstead made me for the British Fashion Awards one year, and a similar style in white for the BAFTAs. They were both dream dresses. 

It’s not really advice per se, but I have learnt that personal style is made easier if you have some kind of uniform. It’s about building base layers on which to riff. The trench, the jean, the little black dress. And those whose style I admire – Bella Freud, Phoebe Philo, Grace Wales Bonner… all of them have a creative take on the classics. If I could swap wardrobes with anyone in the world, it would be Amanda Harlech. 

I don’t really have any fashion rules, but ill-fitting shoes are always a disaster. And I once wore a dress back to front all evening, even though no-one actually noticed.

I feel most inspired behind the camera these days. But it’s also really gratifying when my fashion life collides with other worlds. For example, I love that a percentage of sales from my capsule collection with Iris & Ink will go towards supporting the work of Save The Children, for whom I’m an ambassador. I also cherish my Contributing Editor role at British Vogue and am so proud to regularly work with Edward Enninful and his team.

The opportunity to work with Iris & Ink was the ideal creative challenge for me. It played on my passions for film and vintage, and gave me so much freedom and support to dream big. The little black dress – or suit – has always been the foundation of my wardrobe and I wanted these pieces to feel like a timeless investment, but also easy modern and relaxed. They’re designed to be styled your way, dressed up or down depending on your mood. I’m such a big fan of The OUTNET and this was a dream collab for me.

The little black dress – or suit – has always been the foundation of my wardrobe and I wanted these pieces to feel like a timeless investment, but also easy modern and relaxed.

When it came to designing the collection, I imagined my girlfriends, actresses I love and even my daughter and her friends wearing the pieces. I love the idea of giving a girl their first little black dress. 

The velvet Isabella dress is my favourite piece. I love the flattering neckline and lengths, and the tomboy pockets give it a relaxed edge. I’ve been wearing it both with chunky boots and a chic heel, on its own or layered up. It’s versatile, luxe and effortlessly chic. 
 

 

 

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