Meet: Patrick Mackie
Stylist Patrick Mackie believes that both education and practical work experience have played an important role in his successful career; where he has done covers with everyone from Gigi Hadid and Jennifer Lopez to Gisele and Precious Lee. He's currently a Contributing Editor for British Vogue.
A London College of Fashion (LCF) graduate from the GNVQ in Business of Fashion and BA (Hons) Fashion Studies, we spoke to Patrick to hear his advice to recent graduates wanting to break into the industry.
Why did you choose to study at LCF?
I always knew I loved fashion, but I had no concept of how to get into the fashion world. I loved History and Art, but I wasn’t sure how they fitted into a job, let alone a job in fashion and my all-boys school was quite traditional. The advice was to carry on to A-levels, choosing from the limited eight subjects.
It was when I was sixteen and I went into the school’s career office, that I spotted a purple brochure for LCF. Having a flick through, I saw the GNVQ in Business of Fashion. It was like a lightbulb moment – the course was exactly what I was looking for as it offered an overview of the entire fashion industry. I applied for an interview and was offered a place!
How was your time at LCF?
I loved my time at LCF – after completing my GNVQ course, I stayed on and completed my BA (Hons) Fashion Studies.
It was when the College had a campus on Davies Street in Central London and so I was surrounded by fashion. I remember we were opposite a Vidal Sassoon salon, where they offered free haircuts if you would be a model for the stylists. It meant I often had some pretty out-there haircuts!
I was sixteen when I started there, and it was the first time I felt like an adult; the tutors made it very clear that they wouldn’t be forcing us to do turn up if we didn’t show up to class that was on us. To be trusted was a really refreshing experience. A key part of the course was that we were almost immediately put into work experience, which gave me an even broader understanding of the industry and provided some really important friendships over the years.
When I did my BA Fashion Studies, I was already working quite a lot in New York, so took on the course part-time, completing it over 3 years. When I graduated, I moved permanently to New York, where I’ve been ever since!
How did you find the move to New York?
It was when I was completing my visa application for the move that I realised how important the work placements had been. Part of the application process considered years worked, and both the placements and being able to work alongside the part-time course were an integral part of that.
The actual move itself was a bit of a shock – New York is even more fast-paced than London, and despite having a strong education in fashion I didn’t feel like I knew enough about the practicalities of working in the fashion industry.
One thing I learned was how important it was to say yes to any opportunity. It’s actually how I ended up working with Camilla Nickerson, who has been described by Business of Fashion (BoF) as one of fashion's most accomplished fashion editors.
I was working with a stylist assistant Anouchka Houser on a shoot in London for Arena Homme+ when she asked me to help clear a whole room of returns. It was this chance meeting with Anouchka that helped me further my own career. Anouchka went on to work as Camilla Nickerson’s assistant at American Vogue, and when she left the role, I was recommended for the job. It was my first big break into the industry in America.
I worked with Camilla for seven years, and it was an incredibly formative time. She taught me that to be a great stylist you need to get inside the mind of the designers, to be able to work collaboratively with them; you need to understand their minds and their reference points. It’s where my interest in History and Art really came through as well, as I would spend hours in libraries researching.
How did you make the decision to move from assisting to being a stylist?
It can be really difficult to make the decision to set out on your own. The fear of rejection can play a huge part in holding people back. Through my work as an assistant, I had met Edward Enninful, and for his first September issue of W in 2009, he gave me my first big break as a stylist. This is how my professional relationship with W began.
Edward’s continued to be someone who has offered advice and guidance throughout my career and when he became Editor-in-Chief at British Vogue in 2017, I was honoured to be asked to come on board as a contributing editor. It felt like an incredible full-circle moment, as when I was 17 I had applied for an internship at British Vogue and hadn’t got it. It was a reminder to not let rejection hold you back – learn from your mistakes and your experience and talent will grow.
You’ve had such a successful career full of amazing experiences, but are there any that really stand out?
One moment that really choked me a little bit was when my work was in the MAD (Musée des Arts Décoratifs) Paris exhibit at the Louvre. It was for the 150th anniversary of Harper’s Bazaar. The exhibit opened just before COVID broke out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the event, but people sent me images and videos from the opening night. It gave me goosebumps as they put the cover story that I shot with Camilla Akrans and Zoe Kravitz where she’s running with wolves and had the actual Valentino Couture gown next to the image in the exhibit. They had the pictures I did of Angelina Jolie with Solve (Sundsbo). There were quite a few cover shoots that I’d done in the exhibit and to see the covers that I did with Zoe, Angelina, and Jennifer Lopez flashing over the Louvre walls on the opening night made me think “That’s pretty epic.”
What advice would you give to graduates wanting to make it in the industry?
I made a lot of sacrifices for my career and it’s only now that I’m really learning how important balance is.
But it also takes a lot of hard work! When I was at LCF I was constantly writing to editors asking for positions and opportunities. You do have to be tenacious to work in the industry – you must make things happen and take every opportunity that is offered to you.
When I first started working, I was told 'don’t be afraid' and at the time I didn’t really understand what they meant. But the fear of ‘will I get hired?’ or ‘will people want to work with me?’ can mean you don’t even try. If you find the strength not to let your fear, take over, that’s how we grow and progress.
Fashion is a creative industry, and a creative career should be a journey where you enjoy the good moments and learn from the mistakes you make. As you grow as a person; your career will grow too.