Sophie Lopez's career has been anything but linear. The London-born Colombian fashion stylist has worked in almost every department of the industry, from ad sales to magazine intern to menswear stylist and beyond. Today, she's responsible for outfitting a long list of high-profile celebrities, including client turned close friend Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Jessica Alba, Ashley Madekwe, and Yalitza Aparicio. She credits most of her success to being in the right place at the right time, but her frequent Instagram outfit selfies tell us that creative styling is an intrinsic part of her DNA, a skill that was bound to be shared with the world. In this week's podcast episode, hear Lopez chronicle how she went from obsessively writing Condé Nast's personnel department as a university student to eventually styling for the film industry's biggest red carpet events.
Photo:Courtesy of Sophie Lopez
Sophie Lopez and her pup Truffle in her studio.
Let's talk a little bit about your career as a stylist. Tell me a little bit about some of those early days of your styling career. What was your day-to-day like? What sort of things were you learning?
I'll give you the short version. I always wanted to work in fashion. I loved Vogue, InStyle, Cosmo, all the magazines. I was obsessed. I would buy them every month, and I'd look at all the imagery. At the time, it was before Rachel Zoe made our job more public and more notorious about what styling actually was. I'd look at the pictures, and I knew I wanted to work and be involved in making those beautiful images, but I didn't really understand what that job actually was. While I was at university, I began to write like a crazy person to Condé Nast, which is the publishing house that has Vogue and GQ and Vanity Fair and all those magazines, and I would just write once a year to their personnel department saying I want a job. I was still at school, so I had literally nothing to offer them, but I was pretty consistent about it. I kept doing it. In my final year of university, I actually got a letter from them—which was so surprising—asking me to come in for an interview. The job itself was called media sales. I was like, "Whatever, I'm going to work at Vogue. This is the best!" Everybody at uni was like, "Oh my god, she's got a job!" I literally was going in there thinking I was going to sit there like Anna Wintour, you know. But the job actually ended up being sales, like selling advertising space. The tiny little ads that you get at the back of the magazine, which is called the classified ads, that was what the job was. I was the world's worst salesperson. But what it did do was put me in the building. I was working in Vogue House in London, and I was able to then understand what the different positions were within the magazines. I very quickly understood that I was in the wrong place. I was in the right place and the wrong place at the same time—in the publishing side when really what I wanted to be was in the editorial side. I ended up leaving that, and through a contact I made while I was working at Condé Nast, I managed to bag myself some work experience. The first place that offered me work experience was GQ magazine. It took about a year and a half, but I ended up at GQ as the work-experience girl, and then I was the intern, and then just as they were about to say, "You can't intern for us anymore," because legally it was only a six-month placement, the fashion assistant left, and they gave me her job straight away. But I was the super intern, and I would go in on the weekend to do returns. I was so eager.
Sophie Lopez and Kate Hudson at an event in 2016.
You and Kate Hudson work together so beautifully. I'm wondering if you can tell me about some of those early days.
At the time, I was working with Muse. I was designing their costumes for their shows onstage. Matt [Bellamy] had begun dating Kate [Hudson]. I met Kate through Matt. She was spending time in London, so she had asked me to help her out in the beginning with some shopping, which, you know, I was so flattered. I was like, "Oh my goodness, of course! Anything you need!" There, I was eager as a beaver. She was like, "Hey, I've got this thing. It's the Venice Film Festival." I had never done a carpet like that before. I really had no idea what I was doing. But my motto in life is, "Just say yes," even when you don't know what you're doing. Luckily, it went well.
You have worked together for quite some time. So obviously, you and Kate have a very organic, personal relationship when it comes to strategy and how you work together. Is it any different when you take on a new client or start working with someone?
Kate and I's relationship, I feel like, is very unique. I don't think I would ever be able to have another client relationship like I have with Kate. For one, it's a long relationship. It's over 10 years [long], and I guess we met in a different way. We organically started working together, rather than someone's publicist calls my agent and then wants to book. It's a completely different way of working. With other clients, it's a bit like dating. You have to go on a few dates, get to know the person, see if you guys connect, and see if you're on the same page. That's how it works with new clients, or how I work. You have to get a sense of their personality, their likes and dislikes, and all of that stuff. And then from that, you build your own taste for them.
Kate Hudson wearing a black Valentino dress in honor of Time's Up at the 2018 Golden Globes red carpet.
I'd love to talk about your work with Ashley Madekwe for this most recent award season. She was nominated for a BAFTA and other awards. Talk through a little bit about that strategy. Do you think differently about the BAFTAs versus other award shows? How did everything come together?
I really loved dressing Ashley. We've actually been friends before we worked together for maybe two or three years. Ashley is actually from the same hometown as me in South London, Croydon. We're the same age. We didn't know each other back then, but we worked in bars opposite each other as barmaids at the same time. The way I met Ashley, I was at a show in New York. I can't remember what show it was, but we were sitting there, and she was sat maybe two people away from me. She actually came over and introduced herself and said, "I loved the work that you've been doing with Kate," which I thought was so nice. But as soon as she opened her mouth, I could hear the accent, so I was like, "Where are you from?" and then she's like, "Oh, from Croydon," and then that was it. Best friends. My process with Ashley is organic in the same way, in that I do actually know her personally. So that was really actually easy to start. Once we started working together, which was last year perhaps, we didn't do a whole lot. She's amazing to dress because she's one of those girls that just looks wonderful in clothes. Because we know each other so well, there's a level of trust there. […] The Louis Vuitton, I love that dress. Because it was her first big award show, I really did want something bold. This is a huge moment for Ashley, and I didn't want her to blend in. I wanted her to do her own thing and stand out, and when I saw this [Louis Vuitton] dress—and the color of it was… It was like an acidy yellow, so it wasn't a mustardy yellow. It was like an acid, close to neon yellow—I was like, "Whoa, that's bold." And her hair and makeup team did an incredible job. And you know, that was all very much thought out. There [were] definitely discussions about what that was going to be. That was definitely what I wanted for Ashley for that moment. I knew that I didn't want a pretty girl in a pretty dress. I felt like it was an opportunity to push the boundaries a little bit and see what we could really do.
Let's talk about some practical things for our audience at home who are not going to be on the red carpet anytime soon. I'd love to immerse myself in your knowledge as a stylist and someone who actually knows what to look for when it comes to garments and clothes and has styling tricks. Can you talk a little bit about some of your go-to styling tips for everyday life or for a special event? Anything that you do that you think might make a big difference.
For sure. My top tip, number one, is always tailoring. I am somebody that's barely five feet tall. I have to tailor everything. I understand that it's kind of tedious, but I do actually think that it's better to buy less—buy quality if you can—and then have it tailored to fit rather than buying more. I think that that's honestly the secret. In terms of the red carpet, that's what I've learned the most, watching the tailors and seamstresses work on how garments really need to fit on the body. I think [the fit of the garment] could be more important than the garment itself.
Photo:Courtesy of Sophie Lopez