Sophie Lopez’s plan to become a stylist took a U-turn when her parents forced her to study a social politics degree – at Loughborough University. London’s art schools seemed a million miles away, so she started writing to Condé Nast personnel. By her third year, they were writing to her, and a media sales interview beckoned.
“I had no idea what classified advertising was, but it was an interview at Vogue, so I packed my bag and went!” Lopez remembers. “Miraculously, I got the job, but soon realised I was a terrible sales person. I mean terrible. It was the right place, but the wrong position and I couldn’t muddle through for longer than eight months.”
A publishing assistant role offered relief at at Runner’s World – “I was just so happy not to sell anything” – and she used her holiday allowance to intern in the fashion departments of the magazines she had idolised as a teenager. A two-week placement at GQ rolled into eight months of sitting in the fashion cupboard doing returns. Then, on her last day, the fashion assistant resigned, and Lopez got the job.
During her four years at the menswear title, she crossed paths with many musicians – “the big thing at the time was indie music, so we featured loads of rockers” – who started calling her to help her with this TV appearance and that tour. The Klaxons were her hot ticket into the celebrity sphere.
“I dressed those guys so out there. They were very experimental in terms of the way they looked,” she recalls. “As they blew up other bands started approaching me, so I jumped ship at GQ, went freelance and hoped for the best.”
Her 10-year anniversary with rock band Muse is looming. Along the way, frontman Matt Bellamy introduced Lopez to his then-partner: Kate Hudson. “She was splitting her time between LA and London, so when I went shopping for Matt, I went shopping for her. Then one day in 2012, she said, ‘I’m going to Venice Film Festival, can you help me?’ I said yes, but deep down I had no idea what I was doing.” She emailed Versace and the peach beaded gown the atelier sent sealed her fate as Hudson’s stylist.Lopez’s pinch-me moment was two years down the line at the Oscars. “It was 2014 and I had very recently moved to LA,” she explains. “The whole Hollywood thing was overwhelming, and that unshakeable feeling of being new to the red carpet was nuts.” Another custom Atelier Versace gown saved the day.
It took time to integrate herself into the celebrity stylist sphere. “People are friendly, but almost too friendly,” she laughs of her LA counterparts. “Everyone says, ‘let’s do lunch’, so you text them and then they don’t text you back! In London if someone thinks you’re an arsehole they just won’t talk to you. Over there if someone thinks you’re an arsehole, you would never know, because everyone’s really nice to you all the time.”
“London stylists are very fashion, very editorial, but Hollywood is completely celebrity driven,” she notes of the contrast in her cross-Atlantic colleagues. “In the UK, I’ll have dinner with Emilia Wickstead, Charlotte Olympia and my designer friends. Over there you go to dinner with influencers wearing the clothes. You don’t have that designer interaction. I miss the core fashion mob, and the creative team you get at home.”
In her first year in the US, she was recognised as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s most powerful stylists in its annual list. “I was new and fresh, so I seemed exciting,” she reminisces. “But I was literally struggling to pay my rent! I picked the wrong agent, and I didn’t have enough work. It was like starting from scratch, and I struggled to survive for two whole years out there.”
Nowadays, she’s thriving, and she’s nowhere to be seen on the list, something she attributes to the fickle nature of Hollywood. She makes sure that her celebrity work is peppered with commercial, editorial and consultation jobs, because, she still believes, “red carpet, at the end of the day, is not really bread and butter.”
For aspiring stylists hungry for Hollywood, but stuck in a similar Loughborough Uni or Runner’s World rut, she advises to work hard, but be prepared for the hours. “When you work on a magazine you work five days a week. Celebrity styling is all hours. Award ceremonies are always on Sundays, so you go from January to March working every single weekend. I only work with a handful of people, but the stylists who dress six clients on a single night don’t sleep. And it’s hard labour, because you have so much to carry for each fitting.”
“Do it because you really love it,” she continues. “Not for the glamour or the idea of hanging out with celebrities somewhere fancy.” And that’s why she’ll always be a Condé Nast girl, who loves to hang out with the band.