Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ask A Stylist : Mile Siggins of American Idol

Photo: Michael Becker

Born near Liverpool in the swinging sixties, Miles first flirt with fashion was during the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, the birth of punk rock in england. the d.i.y. ethic of bands like the Sex Pistols was to stay with him throughout his career.

In the late 80’s he moved to London, working with Paul Smith. This led to being poached by a store called World Service, at the time, one of the hottest labels for musicians to wear… It was the day of the powersuit, and none said power more than a World Service suit. In 1990, Miles and a colleague launched iconic streetwear label Stüssy in the UK, with great success. They also started Gimme 5, a distribution company that launched labels such as Hysteric Glamour, Goodenough and A Bathing Ape on a fashion hungry british public.

Miles moved to the States in 1994 to start a career in styling, working more directly with celebrities. his work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, I-D, Interview, British GQ and US weekly to name a few publications. Videos for everyone from Three Doors Down, Korn, and Suzanne Vega to Ice Cube and Warren G. In 1999 back to London for 2 years to work solely with musician and photographer Bryan Adams, which is lucky, as that’s where he met Kirsten, his wife and assistant on American Idol.

Miles got the American Idol season 2 gig after a producer friend suggested he meet Ken Warwick, one of the executive producers… it turned out they were born 2 miles apart…that sealed the deal…he is now starting work on season 10, his 8th with the hit show, and has recently finished a 6 year stint working with singer Michael Bublé.

Miles lives in Los Angeles with his wife and 2 children.

Web: www.milessiggins

Q1. What was the first item of clothing that you bought for yourself and what was so special about it?

A. It's funny, I can clearly remember the first record I bought, aged 7, from a market stall in Cookstown, Northern Ireland...Gary Glitter's debut album 'Glitter'! But I'm having trouble remembering the first article of clothing I bought...I think it was a fishtale parker...I was one of those English kids who dabbled in every genre of music growing up..from Punk to Mod to New Wave to New Romantic, and back to punk again...all between the age of 11 and 17... it was a proper military issue parka I bought with hard earned pocket money when I was about 13 that was a couple of sizes to big ( they were really hard to come by at the time as The Jam were massive!), and I of course set my mum to work sewing the obligitory patches on it...funny though, even though I had a Who patch on it, I never bought one of their records. Wasn't really a fan!

Q2. When did you start taking working as a stylist and how did you get into it?

A. I didn't start styling until I moved to LA in 1994...but first a little history...at the suggestion of Shawn Stüssy, a friend and I had launched Stüssy in the UK, and another company called Gimme 5, which handled lables like Goodenough, Hysteric Glamour, Judy Blame, Haze and GFS, as well as helping relaunch Hang Ten, and mr freedom..anyway, I met a girl, decided to move to LA, and sold my half of the company to my business partner. Being new to LA I jumped in head first and had a lot of fun...too much actually! One day I went to the bank and found out I only had $100 left.

I was sharing a great house at the time with Kim Bowen, the amazingly talented British stylist, who suggested I assist her to make some cash (and pay the rent)...soon after that I started assisting Kate Harrington, who was fashion editor of Vanity Fair at the time...and pretty soon after that I started getting my own work, and haven't looked back since...it's taken me all over the world, and I've met and worked with some incredible people along the way.

Q3. Which designers/stylists have inspired you?

A. My first true style inspitation was when I was 11 years old. it was the Queen's Silver Jubliee, and the Sex Pistols were really assaulting my concience, and everything my catholic parents stood for. That you could take an article of clothing as everyday as a biker jacket (I grew up in a biker town with my mates brothers all riding bikes and were all in bike clubs), and make it cool, blew me away...to this day I carry a safety pin everywhere...I fact I have a couple tatooed on my arm to represent my kids...
But to answer your question, the designer who has influenced me the most has to be Paul Smith...I worked for him for 5 years from the age of 18. He showed me how to wear a suit and make it cool, and not to take fashion too seriously... I've worn a suit to every american idol showday for 9 years, and wear his socks every day.

As far as stylists go, it really has to be Ray Petri, who to me, and I think most male stylists, is the master...i pale in comparrison, and can really only call myself a shopper! others I would name check are Kim Bowen, Grace Coddington, Simon Foxton, Edward Enninful, Greg Fay and Judy Blame, whose work with Mondino and Marc Lebon has always blown me away. And Polly Mellen...I'm constantly trying to figure out how t keep doing what I do now, I'm 45 this year, and people like her give me hope that I can keep shifting the 'sell by' date!

Q4. What's the best way to break into the styling?

A. Errr...run out of money, but makesure you are very close to a working stylist when you do? No, nowadays I think the easiest way is to assist someone whose work you admire...Every stylist will always say yes to extra helping hands, and although you may not get paid initially, you will hopefully learn enough to carry you onwards...putting your name on agencies roster as an assistant will help immensely.

Q5. Give me a really crazy anecdote/story. Something that has happened with a celebrity or on American Idol.

A. Probably the craziest, most excessive thing that's happened to me is when I was prepping for the American Idol finale a couple of years back. Adam Lambert and I had found this amazing pair of silver Dr Martens by Raf Simons we wanted to use for an outfit. I called the PR company in New York, who duly dispatched said boots. one problem...there were 2 left feet. we found out Raf Simons had the other in his apartment in Amsterdam. Dr Martens actually sent a private jet to pick up the boot, whch was flown, on its own, in its own seat (!) to me in LA overnight...I thought they were joking when they told me!

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