ARTICLE MANDI LENNARD
Harriet Charity Verney is a stylist and writer still in recovery from a recent Captain Weiner hot dog party at her East End local, The Haggerston, to celebrate her 21st birthday. Niece of the late fashion icon Isabella Blow, whose life in fashion is celebrated in new exhibition Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!, London correspondent Mandi Lennard caught up with Verney at the British Fashion Awards to discuss the exhibition's haunting film La Dame Bleue, the pervy Sean Ellis photograph above her teen-years bed, and why London has a stronger pull than the moon.
How did you get into styling?
HARRIET VERNEY My Friend Louie Banks was shooting Ellie Goulding and wanted her to look more sexy and less teen... more tantric! So, I came in and we put some Philip Treacy hats on her, got her nipples out in chainmail and she just looked great. She is great. I want to focus on styling bands, both on stage and off. I like the idea of styling with movement and the whole performance as opposed to the static, so it's less about looking styled. I just did a shoot for Teen Vogue, self-styled with 50 black sheep and a grey horse, who was wild!
What photographers inspire you?
HV I'm into humour and vulgarity. So, from Diane Arbus to David LaChapelle, and Bob Carlos Clarke to my friend Bella Howard. I guess you can find an image on Google and it can be amazing, irrelevant of the photographer.
Do you have any at home?
HV I just dug up a Sean Ellis picture that used to be above my bed when I was 13. It's an image looking up four girls' pants: good girl, kinky girl, devil girl and leather girl. It's six foot wide and proper pervy! I love it.
Did you grow up with art?
HV My dad's a lumberjack and my mum's a mummy, so I know more about wood and breastfeeding. I guess I was informed by my aunts and uncles who brought me up, too. My uncle [Detmar Blow, whose seminal East End gallery helped lay the foundation for the huge art resonance of the neighbourhood] had a gallery on Redchurch Street called Modern Art Inc. I grew up with art, but from a more traditional arts and crafts period; William Morris and local craftsmen rather than modern. When I was eleven, soon after my uncle opened his second gallery, I opened up my own in my bedroom. I sold bananas with faces on them, entitled "Bad Bananas," oil-painted pineapples and spoof spin-painting hats. Maybe I should reopen it.
You've been a model... I can't imagine that. I've never seen you sit still!
HV Some jobs are good, some very bad. I'm a control freak. I can't be a clothes horse.
What's so great about London?
HV It's 100mph. It has a stronger pull than the moon. I trip up the whole time here, completely fuck up everything. If I'd stayed in the countryside, I'd be content feeding the chickens, herding the sheep and doing tapestry classes, but who wants contentment at 21?
Tell me something crazy you did in the middle of winter in London.
HV I think if you just go by Liverpool Street when it's icy and watch the shiny shoed bankers slide around, you can have a real laugh for about an hour.
What's with the hair—red, green, pink... are you a Dalston Bleach babe?
HV I think it's a combination of attention seeking and impatience. All my hair fell out last year from bad bleaching. I had a pink mullet. So I go to Bleach to make sure it won't happen again.
How did you find Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!?
HV Wasn't it amazing? Hearing her [Blow's] voice was so odd. Smell and sound really kick in the emotions. Issey was so badass.
Tell me something badass about her.
HV Lighting up a cigarette at the Royal Academy [of Arts] was pretty funny. "I'm Isabella Blow, I could burn this whole fucking place down if I wanted to." So naughty.
Has she inspired your vocation today, getting into styling, and being into fashion?
HV I fought against it, actually. I still am fighting against it. I want to be a banker. I'm much better at math than fashion!
New Year's resolution?
HV Be a bit nicer to people. Less harsh on myself.
Photography Rebecca Thomas