It’s always a business- A Talk with Mathilde Thommeret

The editor of Be Asia and Marie France Asia Singapore.

From interning in the fashion capital of the world France with the prestigious Grazia Magazine, to not only launching but being the editor for a fashion magazine empire, Mathilde Thommeret has accomplished every aspiring fashion editor’s dream to do and more! The bright young blonde gave our class an insight into the challenging world of styling and cracking the industry. Climbing up the fashion ladder wasn’t easy but the dedication and strive had made her the queen of an international fashion empire.

She started her journey off as a marketing intern on the boulevards of France at Grazia magazine where she later advanced to the styling department as a styling assistant. This is where she came to understand the ‘not so glamorous’ lifestyle of a stylist. She explained to us the hardships of combining your vision with that of the brand. The aim is to execute the client’s vision but at the same time finding a point where both your creative direction and the brand image coincide. The meticulous task of styling accompanied her studies where after she became part of the ad department at Christian Dior in Paris. Her job tasks varied from assisting on shoots to the production of the ads, and so on for two and a half years. The experience she gathered finally put her in a position to run the Christian Dior magazine (an in-house magazine used for PR and CRM purposes). The entire production was placed on her dainty shoulders where she had to address not only the shoot, the production, the creative direction and so on but the remedial tasks like the printing, booking the creative and casting.  Her progression never ended as the power of creativity with Dior pointed east with Singapore being her next haven to conquer.

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Entering the Asian market for Dior didn’t seem as challenging as that of Paris, even the size of the office was remarkably smaller putting her creative mind at a standstill- which is when Be Asia started. Thommeret took this as an opportunity to move away from publishing an in-house magazine to launching one of the trendiest western fashion franchises in Asia by launching Be and Marie France Asia. The idea was to adapt it to the local market and help the magazine find its voice in Asia.

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We had a lot to take away from the entire talk. Here are a few points Thommeret highlighted when it came to her experience in the industry:

It’s All in the Details

when it came down to styling, she had a lot of experience. Thommeret explained that depending on the organisation the styling team will vary- for a magazine the team is small and in most cases, the stylist will also have to work on the art direction. The glamor and the gold fades and what you’re left with is the grueling task of decision making and coordination. The reality isn’t as glamorous as its set out to be- it all comes down to being meticulous and organised.

When it came down to styling, she had a lot of experience. Thommeret explained that depending on the organisation the styling team will vary- for a magazine the team is small and in most cases, the stylist will also have to work on the art direction. The glamor and the gold fades and what you’re left with is the grueling task of decision making and coordination. The reality isn’t as glamorous as its set out to be- it all comes down to being meticulous and organised.

It’s a Business

What’s even harder is that aside from this your concept might not outweigh that of the brief- “it’s a business”. She said that you would have to find a balance in between what you like and what the client is trying to sell and market, which means that most of the time you have to use

What’s even harder is that aside from this your concept might not outweigh that of the brief- “it’s a business”. She said that you would have to find a balance in between what you like and what the client is trying to sell and market, which means that most of the time you have to use a piece you don’t even like because it will execute the brand’s vision better.

Know Your People

Interpersonal skills are key for a job like this- liaising with multiple departments, celebrities and members of the crew is just your Monday morning! Your aura and attitude also matter because you will have to interact with a lot of people from the industry- take a model, for instance, you will be dressing her so you need to have a comforting attitude around her making sure there is no hindrance during the shoot. You need to have a good relationship with them, make sure the smallest details are taken care of.

Working on an editorial vs commercial: both the campaigns dictate different terms for a stylist. Editorials aren’t as stringent which means you have a lot more freedom since you are the one approving the story. The stylist will choose the items which will have the most presence of the brand that can buy easily.

The Ads Dictate Your Look

When you work with a magazine you have a list of brands that want to advertise in your magazine and from that you pick the clothes. The reality of the situation is that the atelier of clothes which are chosen comes from that of the sponsored brands- that becomes a trend. She says, “It’s not like you say ok I love this designer and I will feature him- No. It’s more like this advertiser is paying for the magazine to keep up so we use his brand. Of course, you can use smaller brands but these will always be a priority”.

“It’s always a business- It’s not like they say I love Chanel I’ll be using Chanel, if Chanel doesn’t advertise in your magazine you won’t be using them.”

Know Your Client

When you’re in the business your biggest asset is your people skills. Knowing your audience can help you move up the ladder in the industry. For instance: There’s a difference when you talk to a model and celebrity. When it comes to a model it’s her job to be here but a celebrity is doing it for your company.

Even when you’re looking at the styling aspect you have to know your audience and how to cater to them. “You need to know your proportions. You have to manage what you have if a piece doesn’t fit- you can’t say oh no you’re too big.” Remember that being adaptable is an asset!

Get Inspired!

“When I prepare for a shoot what I do is I get a lot of images from the 50’s and 60’s which are not super current to stay distinctive”, Thommeret explained was her mantra to find some inspiration and stay new and fresh for every shoot. Understanding that each shoot needs new inspiration can be tough but it is essential! Most up and coming stylists think that to be inspired its essential to have a lot of pieces but Thommeret things otherwise with her “less is more” mantra- “at the start, you want a lot but later you realise one good shirt, good hair, lighting and natural make up does it all. Keeping it simple but using your own style.”

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Her inspiring talk and words of wisdom gave me a great insight into the industry. I am currently at a point where I am conflicted about what I would like to pursue but Thommeret insight helped me gauge where I have to be and put things into perspective. Maybe I have to shift tracks from being the next Anna Wintour to the next Grace Coddington!

References:

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