Claire Stuart’s fashion blog was born out of a desire to tell the world about the best emerging design talent in Scotland. Now she’s combining her love of film noir with a project that will test her wardrobe to its limit
IF YOU run into Claire Stuart this month, be gentle with her, won’t you? Tell her you like what she’s wearing. Because chances are she’ll be sick to the back teeth of it. Stuart has pledged to wear the same black bodycon dress (New Look, £12.99, since you ask) every day in February to raise money for Glasgow Women’s Aid.
“It’s inspired by the Uniform Project,” she explains. “Sheena Matheiken [an Irish-born, Brooklyn-based stylist] wore the same outfit for 365 days to raise money for charity. I’ve done the whole running thing, I’ve done events to raise money, so I thought, ‘Let’s try this’. I have all the clothes in the world and I never know what to wear anyway.
“The more I think about it, the more I think it is the worst idea ever, but it’ll be a challenge. I’ve done styling work before so it’ll be fun to try and use the things in my wardrobe to make it look different. I just know there will be nights when people say, ‘So, what are you wearing tonight?’ And I’ll be, ‘My black dress. Again’.”
On day one, it was paired with embellished Bebaroque tights, black wedge heels and a charity shop jacket; day two it was glammed up with pink suede studded heels, black ankle socks and a leopardprint clutch; day three saw a more casual approach, with a grey oversized jumper, black opaques and white sneakers.
So far, so good. And Stuart stresses that she has two of the same dress so one can be in circulation while the other is being washed. But still, she could have chosen better months. Because February is the month she’s curating Glasgow Film Festival’s fashion strand. So it’s not unreasonable for the rest of us to expect her to look – well – fashionable. Fortunately she’s not fazed.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is behind the style blog Bee Waits For No-one. “It’s an old nickname and a reference to Tom Waits,” she explains. “Music has always been such a big aspect of my own personal sense of style and Tom Waits is one of my favourite artists, so it just made sense.”
Her career started when she put together a multimedia fashion show called In The Company of Wolves in 2010, promoting talented Scottish designers such as Hilary Laing, Catherine Aitken and Sally Ann Provan. “I found out about people like Obscure Couture and Rebecca Torres and I was like, ‘How do I not know about all this amazing talent we have in Scotland?’ The blog was really just a place for me to brain dump all of that, and it evolved from there.”
She describes her own personal style as a mix of vintage and high street (Primark, Matalan, Urban Outfitters and Topshop all get a look in this month), with a spot of “awkward teen goth” thrown in for good measure. “I’m always inspired by movies and music; I love Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks and Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice. The amount of black and sheer in my wardrobe is frightening. I think that’s one of the things that’s worrying me about this One Dress project: there are only so many ways I can wear all the black.”
She has also guest lectured at Glasgow Caledonian University and Cardonald College. But her most prominent post to date is with the film festival. “I started working with GFF in 2011 as an events assistant,” she explains. “They’d just started a fashion strand and the boss said, ‘It’s new, it’s your thing, come up with ideas for it.’ The first year we had Pam Hogg up.” Following a screening of her work, the Glaswegian designer discussed using film as a medium to support her collections and DJ’d at an after party.
Stuart went back last year, when the screenings included Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, a documentary about the iconic fashion editor, In Search of Halston, a portrait of America’s first celebrity designer, and God Save My Shoes, which featured interviews with Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik as a means of exploring women’s fascinating relationship with their footwear. “But this has been the first year I’ve been given full control of it,” says Stuart.
And she’s pretty proud of the results. “Sometimes people think fashion is very light and fluffy and I wanted to showcase the fact that it’s very diverse,” she says. So we have, for instance, Helter Skelter, by the Japanese art and fashion photo-grapher Mika Ninagawa, which examines the corruption behind the fashion industry. “It looks gorgeous but there’s also this almost horror element to it as well,” says Stuart.
About Face: Supermodels Then and Now talks to models such as Isabella Rossellini and Jerry Hall about the ageing process and the pressures on them to age gracefully.
The World’s Most Fashionable Prison is set inside a maximum security prison in the Philippines, where fashion designer Puey Quiñones teaches inmates design and sewing skills.
But, for Stuart, the hot ticket has to be SHOWstudio: Fashion Film in a Digital Age, which takes the viewer inside the fashion website established by photo-grapher Nick Knight which broadcasts catwalk shows and makes films for designers including Christopher Kane, Gareth Pugh and Alexander McQueen.
“I’ve always been really interested in SHOWstudio,” says Stuart. “I like that digital aspect of fashion, the fact that you’re getting more fashion shows live-streamed. Marie Schuller has worked at SHOWstudio for years, she’s done shows at Hermès, so she’s going to come up and talk about the digital impact on fashion and film and that new media aspect. We’re going to do a live Twitter Q&A with that as well, so that will be really interesting.
“Fashion film in the last few years has been very documentary-focused but there’s definitely a demand for this kind of thing,” she adds. “I really wanted to show a different side to the strand this year.”
Finally, then, who better to deliver a verdict on that age-old style dilemma: which side of the M8 is most fashionable, Glasgow or Edinburgh? “I think they both have very unique styles,” she says diplomatically, “and Scotland has a great style heritage as a whole.”