Fashion stylist Lilja Hrönn
Icelandic fashion and still life stylist Lilja Hrönn was born and raised in Iceland, and in later days move abroad and made herself at home in London. Although coming from a country so beautiful in many ways, working fulltime in the creative industry often takes the Icelandic’s to work in cities with a higher population and more work opportunities.
Lilja has a great CV having clients like Marks & Spencer, Burton and Vidal Sassoon, and also has had her work published in Vogue, Wonderland and Kinfolk to mention just a few. Lets hear it from Lilja!
How was life growing up in Iceland?
For me it was very wonderful. My first years growing up my father was teaching at a boarding school in the East of Iceland, in a place called Eiðar. So I grew up around nature and farms, and to what I’ve experienced to be the safest I’ve ever been. At the age of 7 I moved to the capital, which to me at the time was a big city. Reykjavík isn’t a big city, with a population of 120.000, and most likely quite less just over 20 years ago. With not many people around or things to do you tend to dwell into creativity, whether that be art, fashion or music for example.
How would you describe the fashion industry in Iceland?
I’d say the fashion industry is probably more editorial and creative rather than commercial. It can be extremely hard to make a living off it and for fashion designers to create a market big enough to go into production. For Fashion Stylists you’d have to go more into TV and film to make a feasible living of it for example. However, the creative side of fashion is very high, as artists and other creatives tend to collaborate a lot on editorial and independent projects to get their creative outlet satisfied.
What was the path that led you to the job as a fashion stylist?
For me the path was a bit long and winding but surprisingly this had been a career I wanted to pursue for a long time. But as mentioned before, as I didn’t see myself making a living off it in Iceland, I struggled with justifying pursuing it. In Iceland I studied both Psychology and Nursing while working in a care home for Alzheimer’s patients. During that time while going out I started getting to know a lot of people who studied at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, which even further fueled my need to do something creative. Furthermore I moved to London to be with my boyfriend at that time, and ended up studying Creative Direction for Fashion and London College of Fashion, as it seemed like a very broad and useful course for someone wanting to work in the creative fashion industry. During my last term at university I started working on editorial work as well as looking into commercial styling and from that the ball started rolling properly!
You're also an editor at Bast Magazine, can you please tell us a bit about that?
I’ve been Fashion Editor at Bast for close to 2 years now and it’s great seeing the readership growing bigger and bigger each month! As editor I oversee commissioning editorial features and submissions, writing on up and coming designers and trends. We’ve got a great team at the moment and we’re all good at writing and creating content which inspires us and drives us to want to share it with our readers and keeping the website fresh and full of interesting content.
What's your career highlight so far?
Commercially it’s probably styling an in store campaign for a high street brand here in London. Editorially I recently managed to call in brands such as Céline and Loewe for an editorial with a well known publication, which I can’t name, as it’s not yet been published! Additionally, the work I’ve created with photographer Marsý Hild for Kinfolk has been a create experience and huge exposure for us both.
What's the best piece of advice you can give anyone looking to become a professional stylist like yourself?
If you’re a student, then use that time well to collaborate and create a book full of creative editorials and tests. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask publications and photographers, make up and hair artists to work together with you. You’d be surprised to find out how many people are willing to work together to create beautiful imagery and all pitching in together even though you have no budget to hire professional studios or equipment.
If you could pick anyone in the world to style, who would it be and why?
To be honest it would most likely be someone quite close to home. Björk for example or the band Sigur Rós. I’ve also wanted to branch into styling for music videos so it seems quite fitting. Both Björk and Sigur Rós have been huge influences on myself while growing up, especially during my teenage years in Iceland, and I’d love to be able to harness a fashion element within their creative output to the world.
What is the most difficult part of starting a career as a stylist?
I’d say moving from testing into trying to create a professional book with both editorial and commercial work. You need to talk to PR agencies and magazines that rely on a stylist to bring good brands and great styling to their work, publications and for their clients to get the absolute maximum from a days work for everyone. It can be a bit of a catch 22, you need to be able to call in good brands to be featured in big publications, but vice versa, you need to be featured in good publication to be able to call in those good brands. Sometimes PR agencies and publication will give you a chance even with just testing work and submission in your book, and that’s always very heart warming. But most of the time you need to collaborate with photographers or someone else who has these contacts and who trust your work to commission you to create something for them.
How do you spend your time when you're not working?
Trying to maintain a commercial and editorial career, while also balancing a social life and not to mention working out here in London is quite the challenge! I do spend a fair share of my free time at the pub with my friends, most of whom also work in fashion here in London. I try to go to as many art and photography exhibitions as possible, also wandering around parts of London I’ve never been to before as well as going to the Heath, which is my favorite part of London. I don’t do it nearly as much as I’d like to but I do try! In recent years I’ve also gotten a bit into yoga, which is great for calming stressed nerves, but not enough to actually practice it outside of home. Going back to Iceland as well to visit friends and family is also important to me, and I’ve also started working a bit there for freelance clients, which is fun!
What's the best thing with being Icelandic?
Realizing the amazing power and inspiration which nature is. After moving to London I always get this eerie feeling of being trapped if I don’t see the ocean for long. It’s a strange feeling and I don’t believe I’d have it unless having grown up in Iceland. Also, being from such a small community allowed myself to explore myself as a creative in ways I’m not sure another place would have allowed myself.