Published on November 19, 2012 | by Siss Andersen0
From pastry to PradaThe story of fashion stylist Andrew Davis is a fairytale. In his mid-twenties, Davis gave up his career as a pastry chef in a Manchester Hotel to pursue a career in fashion.
His life was turned around when he was given a place at Central Saint Martins. With hard work and dedication, it was not long before his talent was recognised.
Today Davis is a respected fashion stylist; his impressive CV has just landed him a dream job as the Men’s Fashion Editor at Wonderland magazine.
Davis’ drive and determination secured the witty Mancunian work for iconic fashion titles Arena and The Face, and collaborations with designers Matthew Miller, Jil Sander and Junya Watanabe.
“Working with Dolce, Philip Treacy, The Face and Arena Homme Plus have been my greatest achievements so far,” Davis says. There is a long pause after this; it is obvious that he is trying to remember something. Finally Davis exhales and he says: “Oh, and styling Keanu [Reeves]”.
“Working with Dolce, Philip Treacy, The Face and Arena Homme Plus have been my greatest achievements so far… Oh, and styling Keanu [Reeves]” Andrew Davis
“Arena opened many doors for me as a stylist. During my time there I even got to do a cover shot of Tom Cruise.”
Davis says that it was always his dream to work in the fashion industry. Nevertheless, his career began far away from rails and catwalks. While working as a chef, he would use his spare time to watch fashion shows, travelling to Paris and Milan to look at clothes and art.
“I was inspired by a copy of Italian Vogue and decided to go to London and study fashion. I knew I couldn’t make cakes and be happy without trying it.”
Davis enrolled onto BA Fashion, Communication and Promotion in September 1996. He confesses that he lied to his parents about his sudden change of heart.
When asked how they reacted to the news that he had been in London the entire time, Davis says one word: “Mortified”. It was not until the second term that Davis told his parents of his whereabouts. “They would support me regardless of what I decided to do. They love to hear all about the celebrities I meet and the crazy lifestyle I live.”
Recalling his experience at CSM, Davis points out how tough it was: “My hair fell out, what more can I say?” Davis believes that the other students saw him as somewhat of a know-it-all.
“I was very precocious and full of myself,” he says. “I was 24 or 25, older than anybody else. I knew what I wanted, and had another perspective than my younger fellow students.”
Although Davis loves his work, he seems balanced and does not take himself too seriously. He feels that the competitive environment at CSM made the students more prepared for what was to come, saying: “It definitely makes you a stronger person, they are very tough on you. You want to be the best.”
To call Davis dedicated does not even cover it. While studying at CSM, he read fashion history in his own time, worked at Face magazine on weekdays and spent weekends as a chef in a hospital.
Davis admits that he “worked like crazy during [his] time at university”, and points out that CSM was a “great testing ground before you go into the industry, as it is a real sink or swim.”
Davis completed his work experience in a PR company that specialised in designer fashion. In retrospect, he feels this was fundamental in gaining an understanding of the industry.
“I am obsessed with food and fashion. To do both at the same time would be amazing. I dream about opening a restaurant.” Andrew Davis
Since graduating 15 years ago, hard work has paid off and Davis now employs his own staff; two full-time assistants and one intern working for him at all times. “From an employee I expect dedication. You don’t have to be a ‘fashion person’ to work for me.”
He praises the many talented students that were studying at CSM around the same time as he did, people like Richard Nicoll, Jonathan Saunders and Zac Posen, who are all now world-famous fashion designers.
The fashion director
Davis’ enthusiasm is contagious as he talks about his new job at Wonderland: “It’s very exciting to be in print media again. I shot for their last issue and then they offered me a job,” he says.
“It’s not just styling. It’s the business side; working with the advertisers and contributors. Styling is really problem solving.” Davis’ current projects include working for Braun as an ambassador for their products. Davis works with Calvin Klein and his client list includes Tinie Tempah and Amir Khan, as well as Nike, Sony Music, Reebok and Topman.
“Working with famous people isn’t easy. They think you’re a personal shopper. I’m not. I’m an artist like them, with my own opinions. Some people get that, others don’t,” he says.
Working with Mariah Carey, one of the most famous popstars in the world, is a job Davis uses as an example of how demanding his line of work can be: “With Mariah I bring samples in each colour. She always spills something on them.”
Davis is determined to stay professional. He is not looking for a new best friend and keeps his private and professional lives separate. He adds that: “Tinie and Amir are both very easy to work with. They have both become regulars on magazine best dress lists, which makes me proud.”
GQ.com named Khan best-dressed man at the London 2012 Olympic Games. As Tinie was performing at the ceremony, Davis admits it was a stressful challenge: “We made changes to his outfit at the last minute.”
It was a bold move to dress Tinie in a neon Burberry leather jacket, but it worked. “I don’t control what my clients wear, it’s a collaborative process to suit their style,” Davis explains.
“I daydream constantly but I don’t have a career plan. I’m so fashion I just think in seasons.” Andrew Davis
The man himself
Davis lives in Whitechapel with his husband and loves his busy London life. But with everything being so fast-paced, an hour on his beloved iPad is Davis’ greatest luxury. “I’d love a day off,” he laughs. “But I hope to carry on styling as long as people need my help.”
Talking of the future, Davis says that it is possible that he could return to food. “I might have some food operations in the future. I never closed that door.”
In a previous interview, he joked about the book idea, From Pastry to Prada. He still laughs at it, but has come to realise that it should be done. “I am obsessed with food and fashion. To do both at the same time would be amazing. I dream about opening a restaurant.”
Davis is unsure as to what the future holds. “The word ‘retire’ scares me,” he says. “I daydream constantly but I don’t have a career plan. I’m so fashion I just think in seasons.”