Thursday 23 January 2020

From shopgirl to stylist - Katie's designs on success

Katie with one of the looks she styled as part of her work at Urban Outfitters
Katie with one of the looks she styled as part of her work at Urban Outfitters

Sinead van Kampen

For ELLE magazine the idea was a simple one. Send out a call to all shops across the UK and Ireland and see what fashion talent lay undiscovered! For 24-year-old Katie Smyth, what started out as a chance entry into the Shopgirl to Stylist competition has seen her reach the semi-final stages and is quickly leading to a career in the world of fashion.

As the only Irish entrant left in the competition, Katie is now preparing to go to London for the closing stages and the chance of winning a six-month internship at ELLE magazine headquarters.

"I styled a friend and entered on the off-chance really," said Katie. "I've always had an interest in fashion and styling and when I landed a job as a visual merchandiser at Urban Outfitters I had the chance to regularly develop looks and ideas. ELLE saw my entry and put me through, I didn't think I would go this far though."

As Katie's day job involves styling the latest trends and incorporating key season looks into store displays, she is well versed in styling and as she also styles shoots for magazines in her spare time, she has been given the perfect platform for the next stages of the competition.

Katie tells us "I'm thrilled to have gotten this far. To have been selected from so many entrants is fantastic for me. The next stage of the competition will be me presenting my ideas for a location fashion shoot. The judges will look at my concept and styling and I'll be marked on that basis. I'm nervous because the people judging are famous in the fashion industry."

Catching up with Katie in Dublin, it's easy to see why she made the shortlist so far. On the subject of fashion she is relaxed and enthusiastic, and her own sense of style shines through as she selects the clothes and looks for her day job.

On the subject of her next competition design, Katie is a bit more tight-lipped.

"In the previous rounds I dressed the models with an urban feel so the next entry will probably be a bit more design-led. I just want to show my skills and ideas as best I can."

When I ask her what she will do if she manages to win her dream internship at ELLE, Katie laughs and tells me, "It will be hard work, but if I can do things that are interesting and have some of my personality attached, it will be worthwhile."

Whether she wins the top prize or not, Katie feels the experience has been a great learning curve and will be looking to do more fashion shoots and styling work in the future.

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