Ella Gaskell, stylist to the stars and now you
- Credit: Ella Gaskell
With a portfolio featuring a who's who of the entertainment industry, Ella Gaskett is a stylist to stars. Now she's looking to dress you too.
'From the age of about seven, while out shopping with my mum, I stood telling people what they should and shouldn’t be wearing. My poor mum was so embarrassed, but it was instinctive for me.'
Celebrity fashion stylist Ella-Louise Gaskell, of Hertford, has had a keen sense of style ever since she can remember. While at Haileybury boarding school near her hometown, she secured an internship at London Fashion Week - a coveted opportunity for the then 16-year-old, and one that laid the foundations for a career she never knew existed. 'It didn't go down very well with Haileybury,' she remembers.
Ella graduated from the London College of Fashion with a first class honours degree in fashion management. 'I didn't realise being a stylist was a full-time job until I assisted one while at university, so I just stumbled into the career by luck,' she admits. 'It took five or six years before I got an agent and a client base of my own. It's a hard job to get into, and it takes a lot of hard work, but now I have an amazing client list and I’m fortunate enough to have made a career out of something I love.'
Having been in the industry for upwards of a decade, and having held positions with The British Fashion Council and British Vogue, her client list reads like a who's who of modern British culture. It includes
documentary aker Louis Theroux, singer-songwriter Yungblud, indie rock band Razorlight, singer-songwriter Freya Ridings and physicist Brian Cox.
Ella also works closely with Hertford friend April Kelley - a writer, actor and producer - on April's films.
'I work predominately in the entertainment industry,' Ella explains, 'with actors, presenters and musicians, for red carpet events, music videos, TV appearances and press for films. Guests on The Graham Norton Show, for example, tend to have been dressed by someone like myself. There’s a whole army of us.'
So how does it work? 'I may get a brief on a Tuesday for a client going on TV that Friday. I chat to the client, ask them about their inspiration, likes and dislikes, and how they want to be perceived to the outside world. Then I create a mood board and reach out to brands for samples to borrow. For a red carpet event, the samples come straight off the runway.
'When dressing a client, I think their confidence is the most important thing. If they feel uncomfortable, it will show. They're usually in a very nerve-wracking environment anyway, so the clothes need to be what help them own it. If they don’t like high heels, you don’t put them in stilettoes. If they want to wear trainers and a suit, you rock out an amazing suit and trainers. Jewellery is also so important. If you put a client in a plain wide leg suit and add lots of jewellery, it makes the outfit look complete.
'The red carpet is always tense because you have got cameras at every angle and you don’t get a second chance. You go with your client in the car and check them before they step on the red carpet, then stand behind the cameras with a lint roller and some safety pins, to jump in if anything goes wrong. My favourite part is making these people feel really confident in their clothes. I feel like a proud mum on the sideline.'
Having styled a host of household names for high-profile events, including the BAFTAs and Brit Awards, what does Ella make of the celebrities she's worked with?
'One of my favourites so far is Louis Theroux - he's so nice, an amazing person,' she replies, diplomatically refusing to be drawn on any divas.
With Ella in high demand it was a bolt out of the blue when her work came to an abrupt halt in March last year, as the country went into the first lockdown.
'It was quite a shock when everything stopped and I was suddenly back home in Hertford with my parents, having had my income ripped away.'
Turning a negative into a positive, the enforced break in regular employment allowed Ella to refocus and she's launched a new business venture - PS Styling. The online styling platform aims to help people buy less, buy better and build a longer lasting, more sustainable wardrobe.
Through three easy steps, you can experience all the benefits of having a personal stylist. Having completed an online style questionnaire, I was matched with a stylist who creates a personalised pack, complete with mood and style boards, a style formula and exclusive discounts. To buy, just click on the items you like.
'I have an amazing team behind me,' Ella enthuses. 'There are four of us. I have always wanted to do this, but never had the time. I've been testing the concept to ensure it is viable, because everything I'd done up to that point had been face to face, so I didn't know if it was going to work.'
It certainly is viable. The venture has been resoundingly successful since its launch in September, and has quickly expanded, with a bridal addition launched in March.
Being a remote service has 'made us able to bring the cost down to high street levels and make it affordable,' Ella explains. 'Face to face, you are looking at upwards of £400 per day, and you don’t get the same selection of things because you are trailing round the shops.'
The team works with over 100 independent brands, and sustainability is a key part of the business.
'We need to be more conscious about the way we are shopping. The fashion industry has been detrimental to the environment for so long and something needs to be done about it. Choose investment pieces, and we can steer you in the right direction.
'There’s so much choice out there now, it can often be paralysing. It’s just about sorting through all the noise and using sustainable materials, showing clients things they might not have known about before.'
A starting point for Ella's bridal styling is an online quiz. 'We give people recommendations based on their answers, to give them a start. We also offer bespoke bridal packages. Shopping for a wedding dress is a great time to have a professional, external opinion.'
Ella is raring to get back to face to face styling, once Covid restrictions are sufficiently eased. But she laughs when asked if that is a return to all the glamour.
'It’s not glamourous in any way, shape or form. It’s lugging suitcases, frantically calling up designers and chasing couriers for outfits that haven’t arrived and a fitting is in an hour. It’s hard work and there's a lot of heavy lifting. Clothes are very heavy and someone has to carry them to where they are going, and that someone is me.'
Keeping calm in a stressful situation is essential, says Ella, recalling an occasion when a celebrity's clothes went missing at the 11th hour before a huge press tour.
'One of my clients is a lovely actress who is in an American Netflix series, and she went to Los Angeles to promote the series. I was on the phone to LA, calling in all these favours to send samples to her hotel, but these samples went missing, even though I had received notification they had been delivered. This poor actress ended up running around the hotel, rifling through cupboards looking for the samples before they were eventually found.'
'The arts industry has been massively affected by the pandemic how is it recovering?
'I didn’t work between March and August, but now with protocols in place I'm able to work a bit more. The industry has adapted, with actors dressed in red carpet attire doing interviews via Zoom for example, but I can't wait to have events again.'