My Life In Fashion: Kate Young
My earliest fashion memory is of my aunt buying me dresses. She was close to my mother, and as she didn’t have any children of her own, she spoiled me by buying me these fancy dresses. My mum installed little hooks all along my closet and we’d hang the dresses on the wall so I could pick what I was going to wear that day. I think that process influenced me a lot.
Day to day, I’m surrounded by so much fashion. That probably explains why I tend to dress quite simply in utilitarian, slightly masculine pieces like black trousers with simple shoes and a button-down, or black trousers and a pullover. I wear a lot of Prada and The Row, and also Totême and Khaite. I have a pair of thong sandals from Totême I’ve been wearing all summer.
I never really thought styling was a job. I thought I'd be a fashion writer, but once I started at Vogue, I realised I liked being around the actual clothes and wanted to hang out on that part of the floor. During my time at the magazine, I’d be styling a lot of young celebrities for what we call ‘front of book’ stories – I really enjoyed it and loved meeting the actresses. They started asking if I could style them for other events, and my career just snowballed from there.
There have been challenging times throughout my career. There was a long period where I worked really hard and didn’t see much from it. Now, I work with the best celebrities and celebrity styling is really popular, and it's easier to get good clothes. But there was a time when I was working hard but celebrity styling wasn’t as well respected in New York and people would be like, ‘Oh, you’re still styling celebrities.’ Nowadays it’s highly admired and you can be really successful at it.
When I was younger, I loved Uma Thurman and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was when those minimal 90s Prada and Calvin Klein looks were so popular – I was inspired by how effortless they all looked. I still love of the idea of a simple satin dress with a kitten heel for a film premiere – so chic.
I’ve had so many memorable career moments. When it comes to red carpet looks, I don’t always know what’s going to stand the test of time or what the reaction will be. The ‘moment’ usually happens when I'm watching it live on TV – like when Michelle Williams wore the yellow Vera Wang dress to the Oscars, or when Natalie Portman won the Oscar wearing Rodarte, or Margot Robbie in the white Chanel dress for I, Tonya. There are times when I’ve had chills and you just know we’ve nailed it.
The piece of career advice that’s resonated with me most was given to me by an editor, when I was an assistant. We’d all done test shoots on the weekends when we weren’t going anywhere, and Camilla Nickerson was an editor at Vogue at the time. She would always look at my test shoots and one time, she told me I was trying too hard. She told me to make it look more like me – to think about how I would wear it and play that part. That’s still very much how I dress my clients.
I want women to feel like themselves when I style them. You always want a client to feel like they’ve chosen the dress and there hasn’t been all this work done to narrow it down ahead of time.
My mum has a wonderful jewellery collection and would always let me go through it when I was little. But I think I really learnt about vintage and fine jewellery through a woman named Rebecca at Fred Leighton. Whenever I find something, I’ll go to the store and ask her about it. She’ll be able to tell me its entire history. It’s really made me fall in love with vintage fine jewellery.
On a day-to-day basis, the jewellery I wear includes a Cartier Amulette necklace in white mother of pearl. I also love watches and I have a vintage Cartier Tank Must timepiece that I love – it’s almost all black and super minimal. I have a ring from an old cigar brand, Rene Boivin, too.
My most recent collaboration is with jewellery designer Monica Vinader. She makes such classic and timeless pieces and, as well as respecting her business practices, I also really like her as a woman. The collaboration started during lockdown. We were introduced, and it just seemed like we were on the same page and into the same ideas. We made moodboards and sketched out some ideas, then edited it down to a more concise collection.
The collection is made up of two parts – the heavy gold, architectural, really designed gold bangle, ring and hoops, and then there’s the quartz and sparkly evening bits. They definitely work together. I love the idea of having three textures in a necklace, with a bit of stone mixed in there. The tennis necklace still has that heavy gold feel. The bangle with the stone is the piece I’m most excited about, partly because it was so hard to make – it didn’t look like we'd be able to do it for a long time. It’s perfect for a night out. I'm also living in the Gemstone Hoop Earrings.
In the evening, I tend to wear vintage. Currently, I am desperate to find a vintage Fortuny dress for a gala I have coming up in October. They’re so hard to come by and very expensive. I also love vintage Saint Laurent and Thea Porter. I usually look on ReSee – its selection really excites me. The reason I love vintage so much is probably because my business is all about the current evening collections – so I‘ve usually seen it all, or one of my clients has already worn it. For me to feel special, it has to be vintage.
When it comes to online shopping I love NET-A-PORTER, MATCHESFASHION and Moda Operandi. I’m not a great sleeper so I often shop in the middle of the night. It isn’t always good – sometimes I make the worst decisions at 4am. But I do love online shopping – it’s fun to get the box and try everything on in the privacy of your home. It also gives you the chance to see if it will work with the rest of your wardrobe.
When it comes to brands, I really like the New York designer Victor Glemaud. He only does knitwear, but it’s so easy to wear. After so long in sweats, I find a knit skirt or dress just bridges that gap when I can’t face putting on clothes that come with a zipper. Amina Muaddi shoes are heaven, too – I just think the shapes are very unexpected and cool. And I love the bags from Hunting Season – the quality is great and the traditional shapes still feel fresh.
I am very sentimental about clothes, so I keep things forever. Everything is in storage and when I see the pieces I have in there I think, ‘I love you’. I have a classic Ossie Clark dress, a bunch of 90s Helmut Lang and Nicholas Ghesquière for Balenciaga stuff, and a Marc Jacobs dress from his grunge collection. Every season, I go in there and pick out a few pieces to wear before I put them back – for me, they never get old.
The most worn items in my wardrobe are navy sweatshirts. I’m obsessed with simple vintage crew necks – I don’t like new ones. I’m always on the hunt for them in thrift stores. In LA, there are so many stores that only sell vintage sweatshirts and t-shirts – it’s the mecca.
The most extravagant thing I’ve ever bought is an Hermès coat. It’s ridiculous but I love it. It’s a classic camel coat with a belt. It sounds boring but because it’s Hermès, everything about it is luxurious.
My own favourite fashion moment has to be my wedding. I wore three dresses – a white cotton Alaïa dress, and then for the ceremony I wore a strapless, lace column Carolina Hererra dress with a veil which has been passed down the generations in my family. Then, I changed into a custom dress inspired by a 1940s evening gown that I had made for me. It was fabulous.
If I could swap wardrobes with anyone it would be Phoebe Philo. She always looks so chic – and she has lots of navy pullovers!
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