Stylists are curators, creatives and fashion seers. They help celebrities and us normal fashion-loving folk make sense of the endless array of choice. Put simply, they’re geniuses – which is why we’re keen to share their wisdom with the Motley crew.
Kelvin Barron is a London based, Scottish fashion stylist. Kelvin has a vast portfolio containing sculpted red carpet moments and jaw-dropping editorial shoots and campaigns. Touching on his love for Scotland, the power of beautiful tailoring and the importance of supporting young designers, Kelvin tells us of his journey into styling in this Stylists of Motley feature.
I’m from a little village just outside Aberdeen in Scotland. Aberdeen is the oil capital of Europe and wasn’t the most glamorous of places when I was growing up. It’s called the Granite City, the architecture is very grey, which probably influenced my love for industrial décor and interiors. I went to Glasgow for University after much persuasion and studied journalism, but very quickly I fell in love with the Glaswegian people and a more Cosmopolitan side to Scotland. Halfway through my degree, I realised journalism was not for me, my creative spark wasn’t for writing, and I slowly began to discover clothes and fashion. After graduating I then moved to London, with little idea or desire on what I wanted to become, I just knew it was calling for me. I am very proud to be Scottish, it is the most beautiful of countries, but my career opportunities are limited there, so London is the perfect base.
I truly believe that being Scottish has contributed to the success I have had in my career. I was brought up with a strong work ethic embedded in my heritage and have used that at every stage of my career. I am passionate and proud of being Scottish.
When I arrived in London, I needed to find a job quickly, it’s an expensive place so I began working in a restaurant on High Street Kensington. Hospitality was what I knew best as I worked in a restaurant/bar in my 3rd and 4th years of University. The restaurant was based near to a well-known public relations agency and the PR girls who worked there used to come in for lunch. I began to chat to them and find out more about what they worked on within fashion PR, I was intrigued, it sounded so interesting to me, that this world existed that I had no idea of. Eventually, I got an internship with them and from there, I began to get exposure to amazing brands like Versace, Christopher Kane, Henry Holland Jonathan Saunders, and Peter Pilotto. It was being in this environment when I noticed stylists requesting samples and clothing for editorials and red carpets and from then on I was instantly drawn to styling.
Sometimes it feels like styling is a sixth sense. It’s hard to define how you love something.
I find inspiration for my work in art and vintage design. Certain items of clothing just draw you in, your enticed by it. I’ve always known what I wanted my styling to represent – elegance, opulence and attention to detail. When you see a celebrity wearing a look I have create, only a fraction of the work is the look created. The majority of the work is pitching, fittings, alterations and prep work. You really have to put yourself out there and not be afraid of people saying no.
Pre-Covid, I could prep an outfit and full look in hours for a client, from my studio in Fitzrovia. In London, you can pop into press offices and shops with hardly any notice and pull amazing looks. But then lockdown came and added a level of complexity to the process. PR teams were furloughed and working with reduced teams and we could no longer do any store or showroom appointments. Everything was arriving from warehouses, or via couriers and post, which were often late or delayed. It took a whole new level of planning, the logistics of the job totally changed.
During Coronavirus, the big publications learnt that they had to support smaller businesses and designers, which was great. I feel passionately about supporting BAME, emerging and young designers.
When I use jewellery in my styling, I like it to compliment but not over-power. To me, it should bring finesse and polish – the icing on top of the cake. I love the feminine and opulent subtleness of using jewellery in the right way. I was instantly drawn to Motley – it’s delicate and feminine, but has a tough and industrial twist.
Take a pearl – a traditionally vintage piece – and put a nail through it, the pearl suddenly becomes very modern. I love the precarious balance between timelessness meeting modernity.
My favourite style icons tend to those who execute beautiful, clean cut tailoring. For instance, I love Gwyneth Paltrow’s red-carpet moments – her caped white Tom Ford dress is iconic and timeless, the cut and shape was just so precise.
Awards season can be frustrating. I felt this season a lot of talent leaned towards big fashion houses just for the sake of it. I would love to see a more diverse array of labels on the big red carpets. It would be great if more people wore clothes because they love them, promoting their own artistic freedom and creativity, rather than be drawn to a garment just because of its label. As an industry, being more diverse needs us to be more inclusive of different brands and designers, something I will always encourage.
I love getting to know my clients, and it’s something that comes with time. Your taste can change during a stylist/client working relationship too, so it’s important as a stylist that we can adapt. I’ve worked with Michelle Keegan for ten years – we first worked together in January 2012. It was working with Michelle when I was first introduced to Motley, when she wore earrings and rings on the Jonathan Ross show with a gorgeous Zuhair Murad cocktail dress. The jewellery complimented the dress perfectly. When I worked on this look at the end of 2020, it was at a time when I just loved cycling round London and exploring this amazing city in more depth. Wondering down empty, iconic streets like Carnaby and Regent Street was mesmerising. I love that Motley London has a strong identity with the city it’s from. My love for London was reignited during Covid. It felt right to round off last year supporting the Motley London brand – it was important to me.
Lots of publications and titles will only applaud a look where there’s a feeling of body. However, women should not have to show off skin to be considered beautiful.
For me, the two most important questions in styling are do you feel confident and do you feel comfortable. We all have different levels of both, and we need to respect that. To me, best and worst dressed lists are outdated. They don’t support innovative people who challenge normality in how they dress. We shouldn’t have to conform, the best advice I can give is to always dance to the beat of your own drum!