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Grace Woodward

The X Factor stylist tells Steve Spear about her plans for TV fashion stardom and ‘more bonkers outfits’ – not including helmets

How did you get into styling and how did you know it was the career for you?

My career has been more like a process of elimination rather than a steadfast childhood dream. No one in my family had anything to do with fashion, but all had style. My dad worked in advertising so I was obsessed with brands from an early age. Combine this with an obsession with Top of the Pops and dressing up and it was inevitable that I would be drawn towards the fashion industry.

Do you feel under pressure to look good?

Yes and no. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; everyone is an armchair critic these days. Mostly just pleasing yourself is the honest answer.

What are the main challenges when styling celebrities?

Clothing is our armour, it’s the way we express ourselves and hide ourselves. The biggest challenge is being psychic about whether celebrities are having a bad day, have they been stung before on shoots they hate, are there politics in the room with any of the other creatives? And all in the first 10 minutes of meeting them.

What was it like styling The X Factor last year?

I was briefed by Simon Cowell to make it more ‘fashion’ and get people to talk about it more, so I’m still happy with the work I did. I think people underestimate what it takes to put on a show like that every week because it looks so seamless on camera. It’s not. To hear that the nation was in uproar over Katie Waissel’s helmet when it wasn’t even my idea was upsetting. I still have the creative brief that [choreographer] Brian Friedman gave us for that first week – he wanted Katie to look like that so they did her outfit together and I did my job.

I realised I had to try to not let people interfere and make it my own vision. 

What’s next?

Hosting and presenting and more bonkers outfits no doubt. There are rumours of a presenting role on a magazine-format fashion show, though with TV, until you are at the wrap party you don’t even know if you’re going to be on it – just ask Cheryl. If that doesn’t pan out, I’m going to make my own really cheap renegade programme which is a cross between EuroTrash and Going Live, featuring and hosted by amazing eccentric show-off fashion types. Just think of me as the new Chris Evans.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Being on the cover of a national newspaper for something I didn’t even do. You can’t buy that kind of PR.

Who would you love to style and why?

I’d love to see what modern designers and photographers would create for Boudicca and Joan of Arc for their Annie Leibovitz Vanity Fair cover shoots. 

  • Grace Woodward is a freelance stylist

Quickfire questions

What’s your fashion must-have?

Skyscraper heels. It’s the only way to get higher.

What’s your dream job? 

My own chat show – a cross between Joan Rivers, Jonathan Ross and Dame Edna.

What three items could you not live without?

Great food, the illustrations of Richard Gray and black mascara.

Who is your style icon?

Marchesa Luisa di Casati, aka Isabella Blow, aka Daphne Guinness.

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