Bay Gar­nett

The Bri­tish stylist and “thrift­ing” pioneer, who has chan­nelled her own modus operandi into a col­lec­tion for MiH Jeans, re­veals how she’s brought vin­tage clothes out of their dark and dusty stashes and into the light.

VOGUE Australia - - Viewpoint -

The at­ti­tude to­wards thrift stores was a bit dif­fer­ent [when I started out], in that peo­ple didn’t go to them as much. Tons of peo­ple I know have thrifted for years, but it wasn’t as wide­spread, so there was such great stuff to be found. It was seen as be­ing more un­der­ground, es­pe­cially char­ity shops rather than vin­tage.

“I love the thrill of the hunt. I love find­ing some­thing great. A new idea, to me, is some­thing great from the past. I also like the fact that it’s had a pre­vi­ous life. But it’s re­ally about the hunt and edit­ing out the piece that I love; that jumps out at me.

“My mother and fa­ther had great style: orig­i­nal, stylish and in­spir­ing. Com­pletely out of the or­di­nary. My mother wrote about fash­ion when I was grow­ing up in the

Vogue Book of Fash­ion Pho­tog­ra­phy, in the 70s. I think I spent my early years look­ing at fash­ion pic­tures as she did her re­search. I think that’s why I still love the 70s.

“I re­mem­ber try­ing on my mother’s hats, scarves, high heels and hand­bags. I loved watch­ing my mum get­ting ready to go out, putting on lip­stick. She looked so glam­orous to me. I think I held on to the con­tact with fash­ion as I was grow­ing up through my older sis­ter Rose, who was a proper Kings Road punk. But for a long time I was into rid­ing – I had a pony, and so jodh­purs and rid­ing boots were what I wore the whole time. I re­ally de­vel­oped my love of clothes and fash­ion when I started thrift­ing.

“I used to love look­ing at W mag­a­zine in the 80s, when it was su­per big and glossy. My dad saw the mag­a­zine in the US and thought it looked amaz­ing and so got a sub­scrip­tion. Every month I’d pore through the pages. I loved the punk princess, Glo­ria von Thurn und Taxis, and I loved the su­per­mod­els and the whole Ver­sace thing of the late 80s. Kate Bush was a big one, too. The movie Sub­way I found cap­ti­vat­ing; Is­abelle Ad­jani was so stylish and beau­ti­ful.

“The en­ergy of early [Gar­nette’s non-con­form­ist zine] Cheap Date was so great. It was so gen­uine. We loved Por­to­bello [Road], we loved char­ity shops. We loved old clothes. We had a lot of fun look­ing. Cheap Date was so from the heart of ev­ery­one in­volved. I met Kira Jol­liffe be­fore, who founded Cheap Date, and who is my co-edi­tor on Fan­pages. She’s one of the clever­est, most orig­i­nal peo­ple I know. I also met and came to love Anita Pal­len­berg, Chloë Sev­ingy and Deb­bie Harry. So many amaz­ing peo­ple.

“I kept the same at­ti­tude at Bri­tish Vogue. Clothes are clothes at the end of the day, and it’s about the way you put them to­gether. My rail at Vogue al­ways looked a bit like it was from a thrift store, but al­ways tight – I hope. It’s about keep­ing to the story and nar­ra­tive in your mind. But I al­ways did keep to the Cheap Date phi­los­o­phy. I used high-fash­ion clothes but I never wanted them to look high fash­ion. Money didn’t come into it for me. Thrift or run­way, it was al­ways about the piece.

“I love be­ing on my own and just look­ing, edit­ing, hunt­ing. For me it’s a com­bi­na­tion of a buzz and a form of re­lax­ation. That hid­den gem. I think it’s okay to see some­thing in a mag­a­zine and not be able to buy it. Let’s face it, pretty much ev­ery­thing can be bought, on the whole. I still use old clothes. Gives it some spirit.

“I’ve found so many great things [at thrift shops]. Prob­a­bly my favourite of all was the ba­nana print top I used on Kate Moss in my first Vogue shoot. Chloé then went on to copy it. I still have that top. I love it, but it’s a bit small and ev­ery­one think it’s Chloé! Which I find ir­ri­tat­ing. I’ve found tons, but most are just a great mix of shirts, sweat­shirts, sweaters, blouses, with no la­bel. Some of th­ese are part of the Gol­borne Road col­lec­tion [for Mih Jeans].

“My style has pretty much stayed the same over the years. It’s evolved for sure; more pared down in a way. And, like most peo­ple get­ting older, I’m drawn to the clas­sics. But I love the same clothes I’ve had for over 20 years and I wear them all the time. Mih Jeans was such a per­fect fit … I think my col­lec­tion fits in per­fectly. Mih makes clothes that you want and keep for years and years.

“I wanted to cap­ture some of my favourite pieces from over the years. Some of the pieces I’ve used in shoots; all the pieces have been part of my wardrobe for ages. I wanted to cap­ture a col­lec­tion that was su­per wear­able; pieces you’d want to hang on to for years.

“I’ve al­ways loved Por­to­bello Mar­ket [near Gol­borne Road]. An old friend of mine lived on Por­to­bello Road in the 90s, and so I used to spend a lot of time there any­way. Friends and I used to love hang­ing out there. Go­ing to the Not­ting Hill [Mu­sic & Video] Ex­change, the mar­ket and char­ity shops. It was a way of life.”


Kate Moss wear­ing Gar­nett’s thrift ba­nana-print top for Bri­tish Vogue in 2003.

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