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Interview: Styled To Rock mentor, Lysa Cooper


Why did you decide to get involved with the show?

I mentioned it to some friends, and they all went, You should definitely do that!’. I’ve always been more of a behind the cameras person but they said I had nothing to lose and I guess they were right.

How did you get on with the other mentors?

Great. I arrived in London, we met for dinner on day two, and we were working on day three. Henry was very good at it and surprisingly, he told me he had never done it before. I’m 20 years older than both of them. I was 20 years older than anybody on the set, period. Also being American, I have no idea half the time what they’re talking about. Nicola’s accent actually reminds me of the Jamaican accent because she’s from the north, right? So it’s ‘me book’ and things like that, which I think is super cute.

So where do you get your inspiration before working with someone - do you talk to them instead beforehand to find out what their vision is?

Usually there’s not enough time for that. So you have a broad idea, and you come up with visuals. It really depends what it is. A lot of the time I’m dealing with the director, and then you just bring the artist in at the end.

Is designing something that can be taught, or is it innate?

I think fashion and style are two different things. Personally I think more people should study fashion instead of just assuming they know how to be a designer. But I think that style is something that you either have or you don’t.

How tough is the fashion industry?

I think right now, with everything going on in the world, every industry is tough.


What’s your best advice to someone starting out?

The first thing they have to do is find their bliss, and what they’re good at. Most young people can’t figure out what they want because they think they’re meant to do one thing. Rather than taking their time to try lots of things and find out what they’re good at.

How many of the 12 do you think will be successful in fashion?

I don’t know. I can’t tell. I think it’s all luck and timing rather than talent. Or rather, you’re lucky if your talent’s ever recognised. I think there’s one designer from this show who could definitely go out right now and get a job at Louis Vuitton, and probably has.

How tough were the challenges?

I know they had a tiny budget and had to do it super-fast, so that’s a challenge. Then it’s really hard to have someone tell you criticism after you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into your work..

There were tears?

Yeah. Everybody was crying! Even Henry was crying. Once you get to the bottom, you realise you’re close to getting a winner so you get on with it a bit more. But at the beginning, it was really tough.

The judges with the contestants

What’s your best advice to a young designer?

Take care of your body, and your health. Don’t watch crap telly. And don’t give a f*** what anybody thinks of you. Feed your brain. Read, go to the cinema, talk to people. Young people should be doing that anyway. If you are making and designing and you don’t have any references, that’s dangerous. That’s a lost art. But they have to find out what they really love.

Is it daunting for the designers to dress Rihanna?

Well, it was the whole point from the beginning so I don’t know if it’s daunting but it should be exciting. That should be the most fun bit, that’s what they’re here for.

Is she easy or hard to design for?

I think most girls are fairly easy. In the sense, you can only get it wrong, then you just fix it. I think men are harder in the sense you have to be a lot more en point. I don’t know if it’s easy or hard to design for Rihanna but it’s fun. Rihanna’s 24. If you don’t take risks at 24, you’re never going to. It’s nice to have a client who feels good about themselves.

Lysa with fellow mentors, Henry Holland and Nicola Roberts

What’s your career highlight?

I have so many. I meet people who are filled with love. Having Christmas with Grace Jones, things like that, but that’s personal. I don’t know what my career highlight is yet. Maybe it hasn’t happened. Maybe this show is my career highlight! You just don’t know.

Styled to Rock is on SkyLiving, Tuesdays at 9pm

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