Bay Garnett, stylist, on a leopard
GB Tell me why you’ve chosen a leopard.
BG Whenever I see a leopard (obviously not often in real life), but a picture or a painting of a leopard on television, I just marvel at the way they look and move. They are just SO beautiful. I love leopard print for all its richness and their coats are incredible. If someone ever asked me to wear real leopard skin, even second hand, I couldn’t do it. But I do love the decadence of the look of it. If you’d set out to design something, you couldn’t make a better print.
GB Do you think the danger of them makes it all more appealing?
BG Yes I think the danger and the way they move their bodies and slither around is so elegant and magnificent.
GB Maybe we like them in fashion because their fur has traditionally been such a status symbol?
BG Yes maybe you’re right. If you look at Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurents’ houses they’ll have things like leopard print sofas and it really adds a richness to the room. I have lots of leopard print cushions. It’s the way these things are filtered down. Leopard print has so many amazing references throughout history. It couldn’t ever be boring. It always looks exotic and decadent.
GB It never goes out of fashion?
BG Of course not. It’s beyond fashion. It will always be stylish. You either love it or you don’t.
GB Do you think much about beauty in fashion? Do you see a strong relationship between the two?
BG I’m personally always more prone to look at style before beauty so maybe my shoots aren’t as sexy as other peoples’ – but I think there’s always an underlying aspiration to beauty in the way anyone dresses. Ultimately we all want to look beautiful.
GB I suppose we give out our cultural signals through style and everyone has a different opinion on whether or not that’s beautiful.
BG Yes exactly. And I know plenty of people who aren’t that focused on either – and why should they be? But you can’t get into a career in fashion like I did without being obsessed with clothes and style. I have a fetish for leopard print, for someone else it might be a fetish for black patent shoes. Of course it’s about the surface of things. Beauty is an abstract concept so we create a style and let people decide for themselves according to their personal ideals of beauty.
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
BG When I find something beautiful it’s because a private lovely connection has clicked in my brain. I was walking past a lake in the sunset on Saturday and that’s exactly what happened to me. It was just a pleasant all-encompassing feeling that was my own private sensory experience. It had nothing to do with fashion (although obviously at other times it can do). But it had everything to do with what it is to be on this incredible planet.