1 December 2015

Reflecting Refinement

Rupturing from the vacuoles of the pulsating heart of Glasgow is a creative styling agency offering art direction, creative development, editorial production and social media development for fashion and luxury brands. Founded by Kirsty Halliday and Stuart Truesdale, I'll Be Your Mirror focuses on elevating both already established and up-and-coming brands to propel them into relevance. I spoke to the duo for Daily METAL about seventies sleaze, pink jacuzzi’s and how their former boss Signora Prada makes ugly the new beautiful. I’ll Be Your Mirror coaxes nostalgia, utopia and reality into combination; bringing the inimitable stylings of an idealised past into the ever-changing (whether we like it or not) present.



How did you come to the name I’ll Be Your Mirror?
Stuart Truesdale: This one is all Kirsty, she was throwing quotes and lyrics at me for weeks and did a great job of not killing me; I was knocking things back for the most ridiculous reasons – “no, it makes me think of my aunt’s dog!” When she suggested I’ll Be Your Mirror it was an instant yes. We like to refine and emphasise what is already there rather than constructing an entirely new identity for a client, and I think I’ll Be Your Mirror reflects that... Pardon the pun!
Kirsty Halliday: It’s the name of a song by one of my favourite bands, The Velvet Underground. The opening lyrics express what we’re about: “I’ll be your mirror. Reflect who you are, in case you don’t know.” We’re both obsessed with clever, talented, sassy women, so the fact that Nico sings it was the cherry on the top!

What is a working day like at the helm of a creative agency?
ST: There’s a lot of music... the soundtrack to our day goes from 60’s garage bands to dancehall depending on what mood we’re in. We’ve spent a lot of time in really rigid roles with luxury brands, so it’s great to be able to cut loose and do a spot of daggering before lunch!
KH: (Laughs) Stuart has got his duty wine nailed, I’m more inclined to dad-dance to a bit of Black Sabbath or The Jesus and Mary Chain.
ST: Everyday is different, one day can be entirely desk-based, emailing, invoicing, story-boarding a shoot, updating illbeyourmirror.co.uk... And the next we’ll be out meeting new clients, catching up with existing ones, scouting locations, sourcing clothes and props.

Music stands core to the aesthetic of the business and the work you produce, why do you think that fashion and music are so often intertwined?
KH: For me, music comes first; some of my first memories are dancing to Elvis with my papa and listening to my dad’s Talking Heads records with him. I love the way music shapes who you become, the places you visit, the friends you make, the people you fall in love with and of course, the clothes you wear. When you first get into music, you become so engrossed in it, you begin to emulate the image of your favourite bands; you make friends with like-minded people and live for going out, dressing up in outlandish clobber and dancing to the music you love. Sometimes I feel like it’s a shame that our generation have missed out on being part of such iconic times but it’s cool that we get to experience a little bit of everything; one day I’m Ronnie Spector, all big hair, short skirts and eyeliner; the next I’m Jarvis Cocker in pastel trousers and idiosyncratic prints!
ST: Both are really key parts of defining who you are, especially when you’re growing up. You find your little niche, your sub-culture and have your gang of pals and subconsciously you all develop a look. Most of the creative people that we know or respect really commit to their passions and embrace every aspect of it. Maybe it’s a sensory thing? 


What’s the first piece that you saw in a fashion show/magazine/on someone that has had a lasting impact on you?
ST: I love the more costumey, avant-garde side of things. The 90’s club scene was the first thing that really stood out to me... Ministry of Sound, Gatecrasher, Miss Moneypenny’s, Garlands,Trade... I would avidly buy Mixmag and Ministry magazines and obsess over the most amazing costumes made out of what seemed to be bits of old dishwasher, some fur and a set of fairy wings. Chrissy Darling is a scene icon and really put me in the frame of mind that if a venue didn’t have an elaborate door-whore I wasn’t interested! Gareth Pugh’s SS07 catwalk show was the first show I saw that I was absolutely wowed by, it was such a spectacle!
KH: This has turned into an ode to Miuccia Prada but I have to say, I can’t get enough of Queen P. I’ve always related to the brand; I’m clumsy, gangly, and generally just a bit of a dork. My clothes are an eclectic mix of random nonsense, like baby pink leather skirts and garish 60’s dresses found in vintage shops in Las Vegas while drunk on margaritas; band t-shirts that I used to proudly wear over my school shirt and love even more now since they have become faded and scruffy and endless coats and shoes which is where I invest in good brands – those pink Miu Miu boxes have racked up over the years! I hate the idea of being tarted up in fakery, wearing skin-tight clothes, high heels and too much make up to get attention; I think girls are more attractive when they are comfortable in their own skin, are funny, witty, clever, and talented and have something to say for themselves. Mrs Prada takes ‘ugly’ things and makes them beautiful yet still unique to everything else – that will always have a lasting impact on me. 

You’ve both worked with Prada and Miu Miu respectively, what influence have these brands in particular had on this project?
ST: The core of IBYM is influenced by Miuccia Prada, the thing I most connected with at Prada is that everything is justified – from the signature shade of green that all the boutiques are painted to the choice of lace in a show... everything is thought out and reasoned. We always liked to do things a little differently and Prada has given us the courage of our convictions. When the 70’s was coming back and everyone went literal with flares and afghan waistcoats, Miuccia found the ugliest element of the era, formica kitchens, and based an entire collection around those awful colours and patterns. Do what you want people to see, not what you think they want to see.
KH: Mrs. Prada has been such an important source of inspiration for both of us; Prada and Miu Miu are the intelligent brands of the fashion industry, like Stuart said, every little detail is considered and meaningful, not just in the collections themselves but the invitations, the runway and even little things like Prada ice-lollies being handed out from an ice-cream van before a show. Mrs. P transports her fans into her own dream-like world and allows them to have a little peek into her mind. I think she’s and inspiration to women in general, she’s a clever, creative feminist who leads the way for others to follow.


What do you think makes a product ‘luxury’?
ST: Quality has to be up there as one of the most important elements; something made with the best materials available and by the best hands available. We are trying to help clients move past the thought that price-point is enough to justify the ‘luxury’ label. Without wanting to sound obnoxious, anyone can buy a lottery ticket, win big and treat themselves to a Birkin, a Ferrari, Loubs in every colour... the market has changed. Prada believe space and time are the new luxury signifiers; they’ll gladly place one bag on a shelf that has room for five and want their boutiques to be an oasis away from the berserkness of life, and we definitely buy into that. I suppose the experience that comes from a product is what makes it luxury... the experience of buying it, of touching it, of using it. 
KH: For me, the idea of luxury is different for everyone; it’s something that evokes your senses and makes you feel wonderful. It’s so specific to the person; for instance, one of my best friends very kindly invited me over to Singapore to celebrate my 30th with her. She took a couple of friends and I to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel for cocktails; the bar is on a ship, perched upon two towering hotel buildings where the view is beautiful, the drinks are extortionate and everyone is dripping in designer brands – to many people it would be seen as the epitome of luxury but for me, the music was all wrong, which changed the whole experience. Don’t get me wrong, we ended up tearing up the dance floor and had an amazing time, but that was more to do with the company, the cocktails and the ludicrousy of being aboard a ship in the sky! However, on another holiday, we hurtled down Highway 101, through Big Sur, in a black vintage Mustang, like Thelma & Louise. We stopped off at The Madonna Inn for a night and spent the morning in their pink jacuzzi, taking in the unforgettable view of the seven sisters – to me, that was sheer luxury! What I’m trying to say is that I consider a luxury product to be something, which is emotive and tailored to the individual, not just something with a hefty price tag.

Do you see the accessibility that social media has brought to luxury fashion as a positive new level of engagement or a necessary evil which taints its exclusivity?
ST: I think Generation Z will definitely have a different relationship with luxury as we know it, like I said, I don’t think they will see a Birkin for example as a luxury item, maybe they’ll see quantity as the luxury element. One Birkin is expected, one in every colour is luxury? It terrifies me, to be honest. It’s not so much the brands themselves but the insta-celebs who are selfie-ing with their Rolexes that are changing the market. We see ourselves as part of the redefinition of the word luxury, moving away from that sense of monetary-based aspiration.
KH: A bit of both really, it’s all a bit vulgar, especially when you see teenagers posting pictures of themselves with their latest bag/car/helicopter and the tag #richkidsofinstgram – go paint a picture, listen to some music or read a book! It’s amazing how much the type of people wearing and promoting the brand taints its image for others. On the other hand, I think it’s incredible that we can communicate with brands and individuals who inspire us, similar to musicians and DJs from the Myspace generation, it’s amazing to think that unknown talent can be spotted from the other side of the world which without social media could have gone unnoticed. 


What are the most important things that brands need to consider in their stages of development or rebranding?
ST: There’s a bit of a tightrope that needs to be walked... We always advise clients that people buy into credibility, so staying true to their values and keeping them at the heart of all decisions is key. But don’t ignore feedback even if it conflicts with your ideas; there is always something to be learnt.
KH: I think it’s important for brands to be true to themselves. You see so many brands that start out with their own, unique, identity who end up selling out in order to be commercial. Of course, it’s important to play to your audience and give them what they want but hopping onto every new fad and trend can be so detrimental to the image of the brand.

Who would you hail as the ultimate symbol of style?
KH: Iggy Pop! I love Iggy Pop, especially in those silver leather trousers! I danced with him once (laughs). I mean, it was a brief, sweaty, pogo, but I’m taking that! I love his spirit, his raw energy and his rock and roll attitude. He just doesn’t give a fuck. Sometimes in life you need to just stop what you’re doing and say to yourself, “what would Iggy do?” I’m a big fan of 70’s sleaze so my style icons are people like David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Joey Ramone and The Cramps. Poison Ivy is a turbo-babe and as for Lux Interior, any man that looked that good in heels and tiger print is a style symbol in my book. I like things that are thrown together and not too contrived – the idea of matching my shoes to my handbag brings me out in hives so I think that’s why I love a DIY approach to style. If I put clothes and feel like I match, I’ll take them off and put something else on – I like a bit of chaos.
ST: I don’t think I could ever say I have just one ultimate; Kurt Cobain is maybe the person who I most look at I think, “I want to wear that.’’ His passion for a slouchy knit has definitely been appropriated by us both! I have a real soft spot for James St James; not for his personal style but for the way he has constantly kept a toe in with a really creative community– he survived the NY nightlife scene (another of my favourites!) and his Transformations web series on YouTube is a real celebration of creative talent. Alessandro Michelle is up there too, both for his personal style –we love relaxed, oversize clothes– and his quite frankly remarkable transformation of Gucci. I never thought I’d be wanting to raid the Gucci showroom!

What are I’ll Be Your Mirror’s plans for the foreseeable future?
ST: The immediate future is all about building our portfolio and developing a creative network as well as the bits and bobs that go with it – like stationary (we’ve finally found the perfect thick aqua paper which we’ve embedded with our logo). We have a really exciting collaboration with a new ladies footwear brand that we’ll be starting work on in January and we are putting our twist on a major online retailer by styling their winter edits. We’re really in love with blogging at the moment, plus we have some interviews lined up with some pretty amazing people so we’re looking forward to it all unfolding. Working with new clients and showing the world that there is more to Scottish style than a heathery field and tweed is our primary objective. 
KH: Yeah, like Stuart said, Glasgow and the rest of Scotland is and always has been churning out an endless stream of forward thinking DJs, musicians, artists, writers, designers, photographers and other creatives, so we are looking to work with like-minded people to create inspiring work that showcases that talent. We are really proud of I’ll Be Your Mirror and excited about what the future the future holds for us.

Interview also available on Daily METAL.