'I went to Vassar to study philosophy and literature but I always knew I was going to go into fashion. My father gave me great advice, he told me, ‘You should go to college and study what you love. You should study something that teaches you lifelong skills, like how to write, read, and think critically. You can take that and do anything with it.’
Every summer while I was in college I would do internships at magazines, and then I was really lucky to get an internship in Paris at Christian Dior. I think a lot of it was luck…in my second semester, I did a practice interview at Random House, but my typing was terrible. They asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ and I said, ‘I don’t want to be here, I want to be in magazines!’ For some reason, my interviewer and I hit it off and he sent me to a colleague of his. One thing led to another and she offered me a job at Vogue. It was my first job out of college…I was 21!
The funny thing about it is that I had Christian Dior and Vassar on my resume so it looked good, but I had no idea what I was in for. My first photoshoot at Vogue was Phyllis Posnick with Irving Penn, who is my high school idol. He was this gregariously beautiful, graceful old man who had eyes exactly like my grandfather's. I remember I had to get a condom, a caterpillar, and a quarter for him for the shoot…I think it was a still life about allergies. The first time we shot clothing was couture and I had no idea what I was doing with steaming or ironing. Luckily, Oribe was the hair stylist and Kevyn Aucoin was on makeup and they were like, ‘Oh, girl!’ and taught me how to steam. I can’t remember who the model was…either Linda, Christy or Naomi. Those were pretty much the only girls I worked with back then.
After Vogue, I went on to assist Debbie Mason, the fashion director at Mademoiselle. It was amazing, she was a very strong woman and a real role model to me. I’ve been lucky to have had incredible people in my life, from my mom to people like Phyllis Posnick, André Leon Talley, and Brana Wolf—all so strong, but in different ways. Then I worked for every major freelance stylist you can work for, I even freelanced for Grace Coddington for a while. But then I had to stop assisting, because there was no one left, and I became fashion editor at Mademoiselle. Then, it was after that that I started doing more commercial stuff.
I got into reality TV totally by accident. One day, I got this phone call from my agent saying “This is going to sound weird, but there is this production company that called, and they're doing some television show and they're looking for stylists who are freelance who have worked with celebrities, models, and real people, and can talk a lot off the top of their head. So we thought of you.” And that’s how it happened!
One thing that I’ve noticed lately is that women don't want to look like they’re trying hard, so a lot of the time, if they’re going to do makeup they will put on something very casual to offset it. Or, they will wear something quite fancy with very messy makeup. The idea of looking completely put together and polished like the 1950's Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe thing doesn’t work anymore. I think it’s a cultural shift towards front line feminism—I don’t have to wear my bra and I’m not wearing makeup moving to ‘how do I look and feel pretty without looking like I tried?’ We are in this age of cultural transparency. Women don’t want you to know how hard they have to try. How hard they have to exercise, how much they have to diet. I don’t know why admitting to working hard on yourself is bad, but it is something I find weird. It’s so funny, I used to interview people on the red carpet and they’d be like, ‘Oh well I just chose this dress half an hour ago.’ I don’t know what that’s about. I’m in the camp of people who could play more with makeup but I don’t feel confident enough to stray without people thinking I’m trying not to look 45 or am trying so hard. There’s something about that which makes me feel uncomfortable.
My hair is a big part of me. I’ve had the grey streak since I got really sick when I was 11. I got psoriasis when I was 4…it was behind my ears and you couldn't see it but I felt different. I think that it really contributed to young childhood insecurity because my parents didn't know how to deal with it and doctors didn't know how to talk about it and I had to use all this topical medication that felt gooey and gross. Then, when I was 11, I had strep throat something like 18 times in one year and, at the time nobody knew that strep throat could set off autoimmune diseases and make them worse. One day I woke up completely covered in red scales from the neck down. Cracked skin everywhere, for two years—that's when the grey streak showed up. I was taking penicillin every day because they thought they were trying to kill the strep, and then I started using topical steroids which thinned my skin so it started to rip like a zipper. I have scars all over my body from that…my dermatologist at the time said ‘Well she can get skin grafts when she's older,’ as if it was like getting your teeth cleaned. I was so shocked, I was 13. So there was a deep sense of insecurity that I traded the grey streak in for as sort of a badge of honor. Now, I even have a grey clause with Pantene, where I said ‘You can do whatever you want to my hair but you can't dye my grey streak.’ It’s a part of me!
Now, to wash my hair, I use Philip B Russian Amber Imperial Shampoo. It is the fanciest—the texture is like honey and it looks like caramel—plus, it cleans it without stripping it. That’s not to say that I don’t ever break out my Pantene! And I use the Amika Triple RX Mask as a conditioner because my hair is so thick, and because it’s been worked on so much, it can get really dry and brittle at the ends. I keep a wet brush in the shower, and brush the conditioner through so it gets to all of it. But even more important is the Amika Hair Oil which I put in like twice a day, it smells so good and makes my hair so good and shiny.
If nothing else, I’ve learned that heat is really hard on your hair and you need to put something on it before you dry it or put any tools on it. This Amika tool is the best thing ever created—it’s a root straightener [ed note: discontinued] and, when you have frizz like mine, it’s the one you want. A medium barrel gives me curl without the curl—I like the look where it looks like you just had sex, a bit tousled.
I started using cleansing oils about three years ago and now oils are my number one tip—I love the Antonia Burrell Natural Glow Cleansing Oil and then the Julep one. Americans are afraid of oil, everything is oil-free, but I think that as you age you want as much moisture as you can get. And I love to begin dewy. So, oil is important to cleanse and then I use Epicuren Brazilian Propolis Mist as a toner…they make a great body lotion, as well. They make great everything. Then, in the mornings I use Rodin Olio Lusso and then one of two eye creams—either Shiffa, which is from Dubai and incredibly expensive, or RoC, which is not and is still amazing. They’re the two ends of the spectrum…I do it in fashion, why wouldn’t I do it in cosmetics?
Then, if it’s super cold or there’s a tough wind, I’ll use Decléor Balm Essential, which is like a lip balm for your face. You can warm it up in your hands and lightly put it over my face. A lot of women are afraid of these almost waxy balms, are afraid that it’s going to clog their pores, but I find they really help to keep the moisture in.
At night, I crave the Aurelia Night Moisturiser. I really believe that night creams and oils, even masks, end up being a lot better for you at night when they’re heavier. When I was travelling a lot, we would always stay at W Hotels and there was always a Bliss Spa. I learned a lot at those spas and, to this day I still use the Oxygenating Facial Mask and the Steep Clean Mask. I don’t do a lot of facials in New York now, but I do go to the Peninsula in LA. It’s so good. Also, I’m new to the Glamglow cult but I get really bad bags under my eyes. This schmutz looks like oatmeal but makes the bags a lot better if you just leave it on them for a bit.
Body-wise, I also use oil— Bio Oil and the oils from Herbivore Botanicals. I rarely exfoliate because I have very sensitive skin and, ever since I was finally diagnosed with Psoriasis Arthritis, it’s felt more important for me to soak in the bath in Epsom salts than scrub at myself.
For perfumes, I used to wear Fracas, all through high school and college. Then, about seven years ago, I got really into Frédéric Malle…it used to drive men wild, but I dated a 27-year-old who told me it smelled like grandma perfume. Now I love Juliette Has A Gun, they have these great names, like the one I’m wearing today is called Anyway. And it comes with a little travel bullet, which I think is so amazing.
I don’t wear makeup every day, especially lately since I’ve been swimming so much. I’ve been using Glossier Skin Tint on top of Glossier Priming Moisturizer. It’s a little bit of makeup, just enough to even me out enough so I don’t look red.
Kevyn Aucoin once told me that brows were everything. The first time I met him, he said, ‘We have got to do something about your eyebrows!’ I was like, ‘OK Kevyn, no offense or anything, but I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to live with a tweezer next to my toothbrush.’ But he taught me how to shape my brows so now I make sure to do it.
I have a love for lip color because I think it’s the thing that transforms your face the fastest. There are 11 lip colors in my lip rotation right now, because a girl needs options. A lot of them are red but they have different textures. I love Nars Velvet Matt Lip Pencils in Dragon Girl and [Mysterious Red](http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/nars-velvet-matte-lipstick-pencil/2893794?cmven=Linkshare&cmcat=partner&cmpla=15&cmite=1&siteId=QFGLnEolOWg-rayMa6Xjp3KcFPJrWYhjTw#bamx-1544171462802855181). The more I see Advanced Style, the more I think I should just keep going with the red lip. But then I’ve also been doing berry. The other night, I did this black jumpsuit, no accessories, totally backless and no liner, just the dark, dark purple lip. I looked like a vampire but it was a good look. For an orange red, I love the By Terry Frenetic Vermillion. I also love By Terry 202 Funky Ruby[ed note: discontinued]…their pigmentation is very strong.
Then, I have an Ilia Lip Conditioner in Crimson & Clover that I can wear over my reds if my lips are dry and need a little bit of moisture. I don’t like gloss—instead I’ll put Ilia over most everything. My secret weapon is Smashbox O-Gloss. It goes on clear and gives you a tiny pink tint and, especially when you’re doing an orange blush, it looks amazing…you put it on and it looks like your lips are meant to be kissed. And I always use a lip brush because my lips are receding like the Malibu tide. I feel like my top lip is getting smaller and I think it’s too late to shoot anything into it.
I love Laura Mercier’s Secret Concealer for under my eyes or for any imperfections, you can mush it around your nose and stuff. Since my nose is kind of big to begin with, I’d rather have it not be red. Sometime I’ll like use highlighters, like Serge Lutens illuminators, which I mix it with the Laura Mercier or a foundation to give my skin this luminescence, like an ethereal tone. I love shine. Bobbi Brown makes a great luminescent face powder that shines and dries…it gives the same ethereal luminescence without getting sweaty.
I only wear liquid blush and I use a blush brush to apply it. You don’t need to reapply because when you do it correctly, it looks like you’re glowing from the inside out. I have Becca Beach Tint…the Giorgio Armani color that I’m obsessed with is similar to the Becca one but it’s on backorder. There's a waitlist for it!
I always put Lancôme Mascara Base on before my mascara to stop it ending up halfway down my face. Recently, I’ve been really into Bobbi Brown Extreme Party Mascara—part of the reason is because it’s very viscous, so it’s not super clumpy. You can make lashes very long but very fine and you can layer throughout the day without it getting gross. And I have two eyeliners, one is the Nars Velvet Shadow Stick and the other is the Real Lasting Eyeliner Pen…I’ll usually do that and then go over it with pencil. I don’t do a lot of crazy eyeshadow but I love this Polish company, Inglot. Their Freedom System palette has been magical for me because I can mix the colors in a way that makes them either very dramatic or supernatural like I almost did nothing. Eyeshadow is something that I really don’t get into, I just don’t shade well enough. They are all the same colors and I’m pretty simple. This is why my skin regimen is much more intense because my makeup regimen is not.”
—as told to ITG
Stacy London photographed by Tom Newton. Stacy's new show, Love, Lust Or Run , airs on Fridays on TLC, at 9/8pm CST.