It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Annabel Tollman who passed away Thursday night in her sleep from a blood clot. She was only 36. Annabel was an amazing stylist and worked with Natori for many years, styling both runway shows and photo shoots. Her passion, energy, and charisma showed in her work and approach to life. What a tragedy to say goodbye to such a young and talented woman. She will be greatly missed.
Below is an interview I did with her in April, 2012. She was creative, passionate, and inspirational. She will be greatly missed.
This past season, Natori has had the opportunity and privilege to work with celebrity stylist Annabel Tollman for fashion presentations and shoots. Annabel has amazing experience, style, and a viewpoint that blows everyone away. A native of England, she has made her mark in the fashion community by dressing high profile celebrities such as Scarlett Johansson, Mariah Carey, and my all time favorite, the Olsen Twins. I had the honor of asking the lovely Annabel questions, and here are her responses.
Tell us your journey- how did you become a stylist?
I studied Fashion at Central St. Martins and specialized in Communication and Promotion – I was supposed to become a journalist, but after many solitary days spent at home writing (wearing my pajamas and with only the occasional messenger for a chat) I was interning and started assisting a stylist and discovered that whizzing about in her convertible and going on shoots with cool interesting people was much more interesting. Now of course I long for days spent at home in pajamas (albeit silk with a matching kimono). Soon after that I met Tyler Brule, who asked me if I wanted to come and work on his launch venture, which was Wallpaper. I worked for Tyler during the rest of college and went straight back when I graduated.
Who were your mentors along the way?
Tyler Brule, of course, was a huge inspiration. To launch a magazine at the age of 27 is no mean feat. Drusilla Beyfus was my journalism tutor at college, and really taught me how to write. Ingrid Sischy and Sandra Brant, who were my Editor and Publisher at Interview, were and continue to be mentors – I really owe my ability to write and edit to Ingrid insisting that I was the best person at writing fashion copy and locking me in my office until it was finished! Mary Alice Stephenson is a wonderful human being and I owe her an awful lot for her generous spirit giving me some of the simplest and best advice I have ever received. Michael Flutie, who is my manager, teaches me daily that whatever you want to do, you can go out and make it happen.
Who is your style icon?
Anybody who gets dressed every day and makes an effort. I’m not sure what is going on at the moment, but people are increasingly sloppy. I’m not sure that I have a style icon that is a person, but more of a generation. Our grandparents faced great hardships – raised children, ran errands, and fought battles – without need for yoga pants or Ugg boots.
What was it like to work with Natori on their Fall ’12 collection and presentation?
It was so much fun! Mrs Natori is one of the chicest women I have ever met, and also so cool and modern. David Leung (Natori Design Director) and his team took the Natori DNA to the next level. I was very lucky that I got to see the inspiration in development – I just offered a few tweaks and ideas. We all had great fun along the way!
What was your favorite piece in the collection?
There were many good pieces–it’s hard to just pick one thing. I loved the little black lace dress, no. 19. For me personally, the long sequin gold skirt for impact; and, of course, the finale dress for a showstopper. That lantern handbag was really cool too.
Who are some of your celebrity clients? What other runway/ presentations have you worked on?
Oh I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years…Liv Tyler, Lynn Collins, Jessica Simpson, Scarlett Johansson, America Ferrera, Catherine Zeta Jones, Pharell….runway shows for Badgley Mischka, Van Cleef & Arpels, Nautica and of course Natori!
What is your favorite project you have done?
Always the next one…you can never look back, only forward.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in the fashion industry?
It always ends well, it’s just a question of how you get there.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you started your career?
How huge the impact of the internet was going to be on the world.
Who is your favorite designer?
At the moment I am buying a lot of Nina Ricci and I always love the fit of L’Wren Scott. Ultimately I’m always a vintage girl.
What is your go-to outfit for spring?
I wear a lot of dresses in the spring and summer. It’s so easy – throw on and go!
How do you stay current with what is on trend?
I try not to wear what everybody else is wearing, and to be honest, I detest trends, I find they’re a very lazy yet inefficient way to communicate fashion. People want clothing that makes them feel a certain way, that adds depth and romance and layers to their experience of life. A story or a resonance with a brand or an idea of who it turns you into in your psyche is much more seductive and, frankly, a lot more fun than thinking “oh it’s the shoe of the season so I should definitely buy it”.
What websites/magazines inspire and guide your styling eye?
I find that my styling eye comes from my imagination, but I enjoy looking at W, Love, National Geographic, Pinterest, Garance Dore, Terms of Endearment, Showstudio.
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
So hard to pick one! I have a Victorian mourning cape that is darkly gothily glamorous. It looks great with a t-shirt or something very simple.
If you bought only one item for your closet this Spring 2012, what would it be and why?
I’ve already bought a McQueen houndstooth blazer with a nipped waist and a peplum so I had better stop there! Why? I love that New Look shape, and I hardly ever see really well-constructed peplum jackets. I’ve got tons of summer dresses already, and this will be great to throw over everything and make it all feel fresh.
Top three favorite Spring 2012 trends?
Well, I’ve already said that I detest trends, but just to be totally contradictory, three things that I really like that are available for Spring are: (1) Sherbert colors – they just feel right and look great with a tan (2) Eyelet – always so fresh, very Alaia. Or Bardot. (3) Pumps – down with the tranny shoe! I thought I thought I was turning into an old lady because I’m turning down massive platforms and 6” heels, but as soon as the chain stores start copying a classic pump, I realized it’s not just me.
There you have it, ladies. Words from the wise. Don’t you wish we all had as much fashion sense as Annabel? I surely do…
This is all so sad. Annabel: you will be greatly missed.