Interview by Hyung Mo Jung
“Cold but warm,” is how stylist-turned-architect Sophie Hicks describes her taste in buildings. It’s an apt reflection that also applies to the woman herself. On one hand, her scalpel-sharp cheekbones and glacial blue eyes give her a refined but resolute quality – further heightened by her ice-white office space and predilection for androgynous tailoring. In person, however, Hicks couldn’t be warmer, wittier or more inclined to pep up our conversation with amusing anecdotes.
Based in West London’s Notting Hill, Hicks has enjoyed more than a few lives. To date, she’s held prestigious roles at Tatler and British Vogue; had a brief dalliance as a model; acted in a Fellini film; and become an in-house stylist for Azzedine Alaïa. Not to mention launched an architectural practice that creates intuitive modern spaces for fashion pioneers such as Yohji Yamamoto, Paul Smith, and Phoebe Philo, all while raising three children. The list really does go on.
Today, Hicks works in an office that is adjoined to her home in a Notting Hill mews. It’s notably quiet and she’s joined by her business partner Tom Hopes. Her desk is stacked with folders, paperwork, and parts of small architectural models. “At one point there were about 25 people in here,” she says. “We were doing about 25 stores a season, churning them out.” These days, she’s her own boss, working on her own projects.
But that’s been a long time coming. Hicks kick-started her career by working as a fashion assistant as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. For the latter, she assisted the legendary Grace Coddington, who taught her about the art of refinement and how to edit. She took to styling like a duck to water and soon became a fashion editor herself – first at Tatler and then Vogue, which she remembers fondly.
“It was before the advertisers had so much clout, when editorial was strictly editorial in the big magazines. When I was working at Vogue, you weren’t obliged to shoot clothes of various designers just because they advertised. Whereas, when Anna Wintour arrived, it was, ‘They take ten pages – you shoot an outfit’ and that changed everything.”
She regularly worked with visionary photographers such as Arthur Elgort, Paolo Roversi, Bruce Weber, and David Bailey, and travelled as far a s North America, Oceania, India and North Africa. “They should have done Carry On Fashion because it would be hilarious,” she says, recalling the moment she had to herd grumpy models across deserts. “When I was working at Vogue, I used to think, “I must write a diary. There is so much humour here,’ but I never did.”
At one point, a surreal encounter in Rome led to an acting opportunity in Federico Fellini’s fictional 1986 documentary film Intervista. “I had gone to him to ask if I could assist,” she explain. “And then he told me that I should be in the film.”
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