The stylist who made the jun­gle star fash­ion’s hottest prop­erty

Holly Willoughby has be­come a high-street fash­ion powerhouse, whose ev­ery sar­to­rial choice is a sell­out. This woman is the rea­son why. Amy E Wil­liams catches up with su­per-stylist ANGIE SMITH


Holly Willoughby can cause clothes to sell out in min­utes – from Top­shop’s polka-dot dress to An­thro­polo­gie’s rain­bow se­quined skirt. It’s a sar­to­rial su­per­power that makes her one of the few things that can shift high-street clothes right now. But she doesn’t work alone.

You may not have heard of Angie Smith, but the 37-year-old stylist is cred­ited with trans­form­ing Holly from a beloved TV star into a bona fide fash­ion icon. Not so long ago the pre­sen­ter and for­mer model, also 37, was stuck in a style rut, al­ways look­ing nice enough but, in hind­sight, drift­ing dan­ger­ously close to dull, pos­si­bly even dowdy ter­ri­tory.

‘Holly was open to new ideas,’ Angie tells me of their fate­ful first meet­ing al­most three years ago, which in­volved her turn­ing up on Holly’s doorstop with a rail of clothes. ‘The main thing I wanted to do was get her into more colour – so we tried ev­ery­thing on and went from there. I re­mem­ber her say­ing, “I’ve had my kids. I just need to change it up.”’

The looks Holly be­gan wear­ing for her day job on This Morn­ing – and religiously post­ing on her In­sta­gram ac­count – quickly de­vel­oped a fan­base all of their own, and it has be­come per­fectly usual for an item that Holly has tagged to sell out in­stantly, with brands re­port­ing the sort of web traf­fic nor­mally re­served for items worn by a cer­tain two duchesses. The bosses at Marks & Spencer cot­toned on to a very good thing, and this sea­son hired Holly as an am­bas­sador and the face of their Christ­mas cam­paign.

Holly’s edit of the M&S fash­ion col­lec­tion – ‘Holly’s must-haves’, which Angie was closely in­volved with be­hind the scenes – barely had time to get com­fort­able on the hang­ers be­fore it was fly­ing out of the door.

And Holly, it seems, now won’t make a move with­out Angie. We speak the day be­fore she’ll join Holly on the set of I’m A Celebrity to su­per­vise all her wardrobe choices while host­ing the show.

The pair were in­tro­duced through Dav­ina McCall, a fel­low TV pre­sen­ter on Angie’s starry roster, which also in­cludes TV and ra­dio host Rochelle Humes, Geri Horner, Emma Bun­ton and her first client Chris­tine Lam­pard. ‘When I met Holly in the flesh I re­mem­ber be­ing bowled over by how lovely and pretty she is,’ says Angie. ‘All I was do­ing was bring­ing a fresh pair of eyes. Noth­ing we do is too crazy – when I work with peo­ple I just want them to be a bet­ter ver­sion of them­selves.’ Dav­ina McCall told me that she now tries on ev­ery­thing Angie sug­gests, ‘Be­cause some­times I look at some­thing and think, “yuck!” But then I put it on and think, “wow!”’

With Holly it was about suggest­ing el­e­vated

high-street op­tions, such as Hobbs and LK Ben­nett, and en­cour­ag­ing her to mix la­bels, team­ing, say, a Miss Sel­fridge blouse with a high-end Ganni skirt, or an H&M dress with a cash­mere jumper. Angie de­scribes what she has cre­ated for Holly as a ‘work­ing wardrobe’ – ef­fec­tively a uni­form in dis­guise. The colours, fab­rics and brands may change, but the shapes will re­peat. ‘Holly looks best in pen­cil skirts and shorter A-line skirts, so that’s what we of­ten go for. She has amaz­ing legs – I re­mem­ber say­ing to her early on, “We have to get your legs out!”’

Angie also wanted to steer Holly away from any­thing low-cut. ‘The only out­fit I could re­call see­ing her in was that plung­ing white gown,’ she says, re­fer­ring to a dress Holly wore pre­sent­ing ITV’s Danc­ing on Ice that led her Celebrity Juice co-star Keith Lemon to nick­name her ‘Holly Wil­lough-boo­bie’. There was also, with Holly, the art of less is more. ‘I think this is true for ev­ery­body. Some­times you need an­other layer or ac­ces­sories, but more of­ten you have to look at what you’re wear­ing – say a dress and a pair of nude heels – and know that it’s all you need.’

I won­der if Angie is ever too nice to tell her fa­mous clients when they get a look wrong? ‘You have to be hon­est. I’m not very good at hid­ing what I think,’ she says. ‘But if some­one re­ally wants to wear some­thing I’ll try to make it work.

‘I re­mem­ber dress­ing a young Bri­tish ac­tress for a red-car­pet event in the States. We were choos­ing dresses and she said, “I want to feel as though I’ve just got off the beach and still have sand be­tween my toes.” When she said it I knew the dress for her. It made me re­alise that as soon as you fo­cus on how peo­ple want to feel, not just what they want to look like, you’ll get it right.’

Ac­cord­ing to Dav­ina, she never gets it wrong. ‘Angie al­ways makes me feel amaz­ing. In fact, now when I have a red-car­pet do, she just turns up with three choices for me and al­ways nails it.’

Angie puts her abil­ity to adapt to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and work any­where down to the fact that she moved schools and coun­tries five times as a child, the high­light of which was five years liv­ing on a Bri­tish air­base in Cyprus.

Her fa­ther, Ray, was in the RAF and spent most of his ca­reer be­ing posted around the globe. Her mother, Laura, would pick up sec­re­tar­ial jobs wher­ever they were. ‘I have my mum to thank for my love of a fash­ion find. She has al­ways adored char­ity shops.’

When Angie was a teenager, the fam­ily set­tled in Eng­land, where Angie soon in­tro­duced her friends to the thrill of a car-boot sale. ‘We were re­ally into those,’ she says, ‘but I did buy high­street fash­ion. I re­mem­ber see­ing a denim skirt in Miss Sel­fridge that I had to have. My mum said that if I wanted it I’d have to buy it my­self, so she got me a job clean­ing her friend’s house and I bought the skirt. In fact I have a sim­i­lar one to­day, so I should have hung on to it!’

The Pin­ter­est-friendly Lon­don flat Angie shares with her fi­ancé Gavin re­flects her vis­ual flair, but her gift for great style is matched by her will­ing­ness to work hard. Angie’s big break came about thanks to a few cho­co­late muffins. While study­ing for a fash­ion pro­mo­tion de­gree she ap­plied for sum­mer in­tern­ships on mag­a­zines by send­ing her CV and a muf­fin in a bag to fash­ion edi­tors, with a note say­ing ‘En­joy your break­fast’. And it worked. ‘I got a place­ment at [the men’s mag­a­zine] FHM; that’s the first time I re­alised that be­ing a stylist is a job. I loved ev­ery sec­ond of it – from steam­ing the clothes to trav­el­ling to LA for a cover shoot. Even­tu­ally they of­fered me a job as a fash­ion as­sis­tant – with pay! I couldn’t be­lieve it.’ Mean­while she con­tin­ued to do her de­gree part-time, and got a first.

Fol­low­ing FHM, Angie moved into celebrity styling af­ter re­al­is­ing that she liked work­ing with real peo­ple rather than mod­els. ‘I love per­son­al­i­ties with their own style and opin­ions.’ In 2010 she got a call to say that Dannii Minogue was look­ing for help with her wardrobe for The X Fac­tor. Angie’s edit of el­e­gant out­fits went down so well that she was soon field­ing calls from other TV stars seek­ing the same treat­ment, and in 2011 Glam­our mag­a­zine named her as one of its most in­flu­en­tial women un­der 35, an ac­co­lade that still leaves her open-mouthed.

Angie’s own fan­girl mo­ment came last month, when she styled the newly re­formed Spice Girls for the pro­mo­tional shots for their tour. ‘As a 90s teenager, that was a big pinch-your­self mo­ment!’

Next on Angie’s list is sourc­ing Holly’s gowns for the new se­ries of Danc­ing on Ice, which starts in Jan­uary – all of which will be In­sta­grammed as de­manded now by her fol­low­ers. What does she think is the se­cret to Holly’s ap­peal? ‘What I ad­mire is her dis­ci­pline. Ev­ery day she will take a photo of what she is wear­ing and tag each el­e­ment. Then peo­ple mes­sage her say­ing things like, “I bought this dress for my sis­ter’s wed­ding”, or “I love these trousers”. She gets such an in­cred­i­ble re­sponse – some­times it feels as though we are styling the na­tion!’ Angie pauses, not want­ing to over­sell her­self. ‘Well, I mean of course we’re not, but…’

It’s fine, I say – I think we all wish you were.

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