The embodiment of Parisian-chic style, French Stylist and Fashion Editor Valentine Fillol-Cordier recently styled our exclusive collections campaign, shot by Jane Mcleish-Kelsey and featuring Mimi muse Amber Anderson. We caught up with her post-shoot to get an insight into all things Valentine.
Valentine in her early modelling days. Photo Vanina Sorrenti.
When we were shooting last week, I found out you were a model prior to becoming a stylist, what was it, or when was it, or was it a defining moment that pushed you into styling?
I’ve always lived in a magazine. I remember reading magazines from the moment I could read, going to the magazine stand to buy the magazines with my grandmother, I always wanted to be in that world. I became a model and then began meeting certain people; at that time, it was the end of 1999, early 2000’s, the end of the noughties, and there was no internet or social media. There was no glamorisation, nobody knew there was Stylist, it wasn’t overcrowded. I had friends coming out of fashion school that I met age 15, and discovered there weren’t many people putting on clothes on other people. I just liked making images, and being a model was part of making the images. I never assisted – I started my career backwards. I often worked for free, doing this for people as I felt it was my learning curve, doing favours for people, but really it was doing favours for me!
Valentine behind the scenes on the Mimi Holliday campaign set
A defining moment in my career was when I stared working with Charles Anastase, doing fittings with him. He wanted to move his shows from Paris to London and because I was already in London he came over to see me. I was consulting when this happened and ended up styling it freely without it being contrived – everything was so last minute and I put the show together without even thinking I could do it. And thankfully, the first show got really good reviews! I was doing everything from the beginning, casting models, styling outfits on them as they were right there. Everyone was hugging me at the end – I was like, uhhh, I can style a show, I can do this! I just love doing the shows, they are so special, it’s a moment in time, I just love them. So I guess that’s how I became a stylist!
Valentine in her early modelling days. Photo by Ellen Von Unworth.
Charles Anastase runway show, which Valentine styled
Did you use to take over on the shoots and do the styling yourself, how did that go down?
I wasn’t ever bossy – my modelling career was cool, I wasn’t a massive model, but I always knew how to wear clothes and I always managed to work my way around it. My pose and how I wore the clothes gave it the impression I wanted it to. I worked with Camilla Waddington and of course I was so excited to wear what they were putting me in. During these times I did what I was told. In fact, the first shoots I did I styled the clothes on myself. Cindy Sherman famously did this a long time ago, styling herself and putting herself into the shot. It was definitely a trend, but in a fashion sense I was doing it too, when I first started out.
Photographer Cindy Sherman’s famous self-styled self-portraits
What is your favourite word?
Probably a swear word, any swear word, French or English… both! Swear words in French more so, I’m not as comfortable swearing in English. F***ing, bloody, that kind of thing you know? I swear a lot I think.
Finish this sentence: I wish I had…
Oh I’m terrible at this… Oh I know, I wish I had more time! More bloody, f***ing time! There I go with the swearing, see?
If you could spend one hour with anyone past or present, who would it be?
Nelson Mandela… Margaret thatcher – no – maybe so I can tell her… Churchill? Actually, Nick cave probably, or maybe David Bowie…… I never met him or saw him play, so if it could be anyone it would be him!
Thong or knicker, or none?
Knickers!! All the way. No thongs any time soon…
Hair and make-up? Hair or make-up?
For me; no hair, no make-up. But then the other day I did my hair and make-up (it’s very rare), I slicked my hair back put some make up on and everyone was saying,
“What’s going on?!” I never want to be a prisoner to having to put on something to present myself, like a mask. Normally hair drying my fringe is the most I do, and that’s because I have a new bathroom which has a hairdryer in the bathroom, so it’s purely for practicality.
When I say Mimi Holliday – Damaris lingerie what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
What skill do you have that not many people know about?
I have no bloody skills! Ohhh I don’t know, lots of little things but not very well! Oh actually, I can sing – I was in a band that was in Glastonbury called ‘The Big Pink’. I was backing vocals, I did it so I could tell my kids one day!
Valentine, singing backing vocals for ‘The Big Pink’
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
When I was 16 I was dating a much older guy which was a fantastic experience. I remember him saying to make the everyday life the beauty of the relationship.
Who was the most interesting to style?
I must say Geraldine Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin’s daughter, for Violet magazine (Valentine is Fashion Editor of The Violet Book). She was absolutely amazing, she was completely mouldable and trusting. It was some wonderful team work. She was perfectly confident, she was over 70, but much more confident that any bloody f***ing 25-year-old with a publicist telling you how to shoot them. Here you have a 70 year old woman, an amazing, insane actress, who manages to be much more beautiful and understanding of what you are there to do!
Geraldine Chaplin in Violet Book Issue 4, styled by Valentine
Where is your favourite place?
My bed, awake with magazines and snacks, my computer, my boyfriend and my kids.
What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done and gotten away with?
I’ve no idea, and if it’s very naughty I certainly won’t say!
What is your p**n star name? (The name of your first pet and your mothers maiden name)
It’s not good and very boring; Tomy Fillol.
Your fave of the old-school supers?
Claudia Schiffer for the Guess Jeans campaign, 1989
One book you must ready before you die?
Anything by Marguerite Duras. The one that always left an impression on me was blue eyes black hair – ‘Les Yeux Bleus, Cheveux Noirs’.
What do you sleep in?
In the summer, I sleep in vintage cotton slips, and some in silk. In the winter I am often in a night shirt. I tend to be cold – if it’s not the summer I have to have long sleeves!
Which is your favourite fashion/editorial/campaign image ever?
Versace Spring 1994. Photo – Richard Avedon
Proudest moment of your career?
Shooting for Mimi Holliday! Haha… There are many moments. That Charlotte Olympia show with the fruit, it was like a Broadway show. We acheieved a lot – it was a real success. But I don’t think that’s THE moment… It’s yet to come!
What’s the most nerve-racking, daunting shoot you’ve ever worked on?
There isn’t one. Always moments, but no, not really!
From the new, exclusives collections that you styled, which is your favourite piece/set? And yes, you can have it!
Haha! I think it’s the high-waisted, the black and white one – oh no, actually, it’s the black lace bra with the lace polka dot strap!
Final comments, last word?
Until next time!
Valentine on set, styling the Mimi Holliday exclusive collections, Autumn 2017