XXXI. ELLEN MIRCK
Stylist ___ Schön! Dossier Journal. Vogue.it.
" There are a lot of people born with inherent skills, but I think it also has to do with your character and how much you want to invest and how many risks you are willing to take. "
With a relatively fledgling freelance career of 2 years, Ellen had stints with Alexander McQueen in London and Hermès in Amsterdam before returning to Italy. Now based in Milan she contributes to publications on an international scope, titles such as Io Donna Spain, Vs. Magazine, Vogue.it, Slurp, Qvest, Elegance, Dossier Journal, Schön magazine and others. She also collaborates with other creatives behind brands that include United Colors of Benetton, Tod’s, Bally and Tshirterie.
We converse about studies, the Italian fashpack, her fondness for simplicity and where she aims to be in the not so distant future...
*'Finding Solitude' in Vs. Magazine _ Photography: Alexan der Habesland _ Model: Panos Gian neas _
ElysiumEditorial: Born to parents of a creative thoroughbred, we wondered whether you regard artistic inclination as an inherent quality or one inset and nurtured by that which surrounds us?
EllenMirck: Well actually I think it is a combination of the two. Styling is not something you can learn, but a talent that you should have within you. Though you do have to recognize this talent and develop it. There are a lot of people born with inherent skills, but I think it also has to do with your character and how much you want to invest and how many risks you are willing to take
EE: You moved from the Netherlands to attend the Istituto Marangoni in Milan, were these studies design focused or were you always conscious and thus active in developing your aptitude for styling?
EM: It is funny that you ask that question, because Marangoni is actually a school focussed on the styling, a place to learn how to do styling research, graphic design, etc. In fact in The Netherlands I came across a lot of studies that were a combination between design and styling. I don’t consider myself to be a designer
EE: You are currently based in Milan, after a stint in London working for Alexander McQueen. As a base, do you find Italy to be compliant with your way of working?
EM: Well maybe not with my way of working, but with me as a person I guess. I had a great time in London and I still visit the city a lot. But in general for living I find Italy a good base for the moment, I feel relaxed here and can travel wherever I want too. Also Italy offers a lot of amazing outdoor locations for clients and magazines, which is a bonus
*'The Dutch Golden Age' in Schön! Magazine _ Photography: Riccardo Bernardi _ Model: Katja Borghuis _
EE: Being approximately 751 miles away it’s difficult to fully appreciate a creative landscape. Care to brief us with the basics, who is currently flustering the Italian Fash-pack?
EM: In general what makes Italian designers really special is that they care a lot about the quality of their product. They are always looking for the best materials and really focus on the right factories with a lot of experience. Less is more, but what you have should be perfect and people still want to pay for that in Italy. It might not be the most innovative fashion crowd in the world, but people really do have style and buy clothes that fit their personality more than the latest trends.
There are a lot of young designers out here who are doing an amazing job. Like TShirterie who are making the most beautiful T-shirts with very elegant prints, jewelry collars, earrings, bracelets, etc. Another amazing brand is Ilaria Nistri their product is of a beautiful quality with clean lines. Also I appreciate the young designer duo of CO-TE. They are in the Italian media often and just had their first fashion show. Also keep an eye on the bag designs of Isabelle Martine, their creations have been worn by a lot of celebrities in Hollywood.
EE: In a domain where things are judged on their visual value, how do you tackle your personal style in relation to your daily wardrobe and the way in which you present yourself? On a similar note, are you conscious of that fact that your own style should never eclipse the artistry of your editorial work?
EM: Yes I am aware of that and feel my work reflects my personal style too. Though obviously in day to day life I keep it a bit more reserved
EE: Right, so now we have your own basics covered - how would the man & woman you style choose to present themselves on a daily basis?
EM: Well I think they are both really focussed on the essentials. With their outfit they are always working towards one strong message. They have their own style going on. Which is elegant, graphical, probably their clothes have some shape in them. Mostly I focus more on shape and texture over print and colour. That can be a hat, or a strong collar, but also a sweater with a special draping
EE: Whilst perusing the web we came across this statement in regards to a stylist’s role _ to enhance the creative direction of each project. Would you agree that your role is to merely magnify an aesthetic already decided by a designer? If this is not the case, how would you distinguish your responsibilities as a stylist?
EM: In my opinion the role of a stylist is to translate and communicate the ideas of designers to the general market and customer. I consider myself as a communicator. Depending on the client I work for (magazine or brand) I try to connect with their customer and create an image that they will understand. For a magazine the message is typically inspirational and for the brands I focus on the fact that their customer should not just like the image they see, but also go to the shop and buy. I show the customer how to wear the products, so they can recognize themselves in it
I also do editorials for myself in which I try to show my own opinion and feeling toward the world at that moment, I then submit the results to magazines
EE: You seem to favour an ethereal wardrobe, floating volumes that seem to magnify a models distant look. Would you agree that your work emits a strong feeling of a contemplative solitude?
EM: Yes I think you are right. I like to show a model that can inspire other people. An image you can dream with, an image that you don’t see everyday walking on the street. I show a person that there is a peace within them. I do believe in the fact that you can make your own life and you are responsible for that. Other people can help and guide you, but you have to do it yourself. So your best friend should be you and nobody else. I mean that in a very positive way
I am also very aware tough of the fact that people want to touch the person they see in the image. Some of my latest and soon to be published works show a model that is more looking towards the camera, sharing their happiness. I guess my images will develop with me as a person
*'First of the Gang' in To Be Magazine _ Photography: Leonardo V _
EE: There’s a certain sense of underplay in your work, a simplicity actually far more engaging than an editorial vibrant with colour and bursting with content. Is less always more?
EM: Yes I really think so. I think that a message is clearer when your whole outfit plays toward one statement and style than a lot of different ones
EE: First of the Gang _ for _ To Be Magazine _ portrays a sequence of events, a set of visuals bound by a liquid narrative flowing from image to image. Is a storyboard approach imperative to the editorial process?
EM: I always work with a mood board first to define the style I want to show, developing a feeling or atmosphere of the entire shoot. Then later together with the photographer I decide the approach we want to give to it. This editorial for example was inspired by masculine dancing and bringing together a group of powerful guys. What I also like a lot are the emotions of the models and that their personalities are all different
EE: Speaking of fluidity, it is no secret that the industry is forever morphing and developing. Is this incessant hyper-mobile quality a little exasperating?
EM: I think life in general should always be about development. I think that is the nature of life. Though I believe that within the movement you have to stay true to yourself and make your own translation. As a stylist you communicate so you can never close your eyes to what is going on
EE: Portions of your portfolio seem heavily exaggerated, dissected somewhat abstract garments creating a vision that transcends the norm. Do you worry such strong directions are inclusive to taste and may therefore alienate some viewers?
EM: Yes of course and that was a choice. I aim to discover myself as a stylist, to understand who I am and what makes me different. Thanks to those works I now know myself and my style really well and I can understand what it is that I can offer to brands and magazines. But again I understand your point and I have to say lately I moved towards an image that probably pleases more people. Not because I am not committed to the works, actually these are the most personal sets to date. I always need to consider what the market demands
EE: Fashion film seems to be a section of your portfolio expanding in content, outside of the obvious what might the advantages of moving image be?
EM: Yes it is. I just finished a really important film project too, for which I did the art direction and styling. It is about the transformation of a woman. It will be out in about a month. I worked together with a fantastic team and the Italian filmmaker Daniele Testi. There are 7 spectacular completely different sets. I think it is really exciting that alongside static pictures fashion film is getting more and more important. I love to explore myself with both
EE: Elysium (E): A place or state of perfect happiness – When are you at your happiest?
EM: I can be happy in a lot of different places. When I land at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam it feels so amazing to be home again and about to see all my friends and family. Another special place is Lerici, on the coast of Italy, where my Dutch boyfriend used to live and where I visited him a lot. It was a place to get away from the hard working life and relax
EE: To conclude, what one question had you hoped might be included in this interview, furthermore how would you answer said question?
EM: Maybe what are my aims for the future...
Continue enjoying the work that I do. Enjoying life, expressing myself and exploring fashion film further. Develop a good relationship with an amazing fashion magazine and continue working for beautiful brands
*'Viola' in Schön! Magazine _ Photography: Andoni & Arantxa _ Model: Kseniya @ Elite Milano _
TShirterie /Ilaria Nistri / CO-TE