DREAM TEAM: ALICE & THEO

Super-stylist Alice Goddard and photographer Theo Sion may just be the coolest creative duo since Inez and Vinoodh. Don’t believe us? Take a look at their seriously covetable independent magazine, Hot and Cool a slick and original hybrid of cutting-edge fashion and contemporary art.

At Topshop HQ, we were so impressed by their stark, striking aesthetic, that we invited the London-based talents to shoot and style a Spring 2014 story especially for us.  Here, they reveal the inspiration behind those images, the secrets to their burgeoning success and more… 

Tell us about the shoot…

Alice Goddard: We wanted it to be low-key story about a natural girl, a simple and relatable character, carrying out a normal task.

Theo Sion: We had this idea about a girl taking out the rubbish, but on the day we simplified it and instead had the model, Honour, pose in an alleyway next to Alice’s house in Paddington [West London]. We shot it on the shortest day of the year, but there was this really amazing natural light that made the images feel more dramatic.

And the clothes?

Alice: They help to tell a story and in this case, illustrate a simple way of dressing that’s effortless and fun. Classic Breton stripe tops, sheer chiffon blouses and grey marl cotton sweaters were key pieces.

Why the name, Hey Nineteen?

Alice: It happened organically because we were listening to that particular song by the ‘70s band Steely Dan when we titled it.

Theo: Yeah, it wasn’t anything super conceptual, but the sun was amazing on the day we shot and it reflects the mood of the shoot. A couple of the shots were taken on the balcony too. The most orange image was taken really early in the morning, so we got this beautiful, dramatic light from the sunrise.

You tend to use models that have an easygoing, girl-next-door look, why is this?

Theo: Yes we do. For this shoot we’ve used a sandy-haired model called Honour Smith, who we have actually used before. I love the fact that her beauty is quite understated, you wouldn’t instantly assume that she was a model.

How did you meet?

Alice: When we started working on Hot and Cool over three years ago, which was before either of us had ever decided whether to specialise in styling or photography. I had assisted stylists before, but had never done anything official – like an art degree.

Theo: I had been assisting various stylists while I studied graphic design, then after I graduated I started to create more of my own pictures.

How did Hot and Cool come about?

Alice: It was just a fun, creative project that we started working on with friends in the summer of 2011. Gradually it evolved and picked up a little press attention, so we started taking it more seriously.

Do you enjoy it?

Alice: Yes, though I feel that it is very early days still.

Theo: I don’t even feel like we’ve really started yet, there is so much more to accomplish.

How big is the team?

Alice: It’s just us for the most part.

Theo: We do pretty much everything, so it’s very hands-on. But we do enlist our friend Rory for his art directing expertise from time to time

How do you find collaborating with brands?

Theo: It’s actually been great so far, really relaxed. No one’s really asked us to tick any particular boxes, which is good.

Alice: But also I think that because we have such a big amount of freedom with the magazine, that sometimes it actually makes it easier when things are more restricted.

Your favourite shoot to date?

Alice: The cover story for the last issue [Number Six] of Hot and Cool, because it was exactly what we had envisioned. We scouted the cover girl, Anais, on the tube in London but she actually lives in Somerset [Devon]. So we went to stay with her family for three days and did the shoot at her house.

Theo: Her family were so welcoming; it was a really fun experience.

What inspires your work?

Alice: We have a huge collection of Vogue Italia magazines from the ‘90s that we reference sometimes. But, I think we are predominantly inspired by day-to-day normalities outside of fashion, like ordinary people walking down the street.

Theo: For example when you see men on the tube who wear trousers that aren’t finished properly or are way too long, that’s the kind of styling idea that we might incorporate into a shoot. But it’s always rooted in reality.

Alice: Yes, I guess there is always a sense of realism in our work.

The images you create are different to everything that’s out there right now. Is that a conscious decision?

Alice: No, I don’t think we set about to create something that’s deliberately different. I think if you style in a fashionable, trend-led way that’s already been done before, it’s a little boring.

Who are your favourite fashion designers?

Alice: I really like Marques’Almeida and J W Anderson right now. But I tend to mix brands like that with my own wardrobe and some interesting vintage items I find in charity shops or at Portobello market.

Theo: I love Margaret Howell for it’s absolute simplicity.

London Fashion Week is coming up – are either of you involved this season?

Alice: Yes, I will be attending the shows, but I find having to watch them back-to-back every day quite overwhelming sometimes.

Theo: Me too. Though I am really looking forward to what Marques’Almeida do next. I thought that their spring show was a real stand out last season.

Would Hot and Cool ever go digital in the future?

Both: No.

Alice: I think that Hot and Cool is a reaction against all of that. We’re very conscious of it not being online. Everything on the internet feels quite disposable and can be chopped and changed, where as a printed magazine is more final.

Theo: Yes, we want it to be a tangible thing. When you view things online you never feel like you’ve seen something properly. It’s so ephemeral and sources become ambiguous, so it’s difficult to know where they’ve come from without a print version. It doesn’t seem like it’s a reality.

Alice: I always like the idea that you’d have to go and find a copy of Hot and Cool. You’d have to actually want it and go and look for it. It’s just there waiting for you.

What’s next?

Theo: I hope that Hot and Cool will continue to evolve. The last issue was the first one I was actually really happy with.

Alice: With each edition we gain a little more confidence. Hopefully it will continue to develop and grow.

 Check out Alice and Theo’s shoot and browse Topshop magazine here