When we featured the stylist & consultant Chris Benns on TCD and then asked if we could interview him, we didn’t expect to meet someone with such a high level of passion for his work. After getting his start with Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton men’s style director, Chris made a name for himself and began to work for global fashion brands such as Burberry, McQ and Tommy Hilfiger as well as publications like Vogue Homme, V, Vman and i-D to name but a few. He notably tells us here about his beginnings as a stylist, his inspiration sources and his current, exciting projects.
TCD: What made you want to become a stylist?
CB: Some of my youngest memories as a child are walking around Carnaby Street. My mother used to work there before I was born and was frequently approached about being a model but would always politely decline as she was too shy despite her love for fashion. I guess you could say fashion was in my blood but styling wasn’t my first career path. Before I crossed over to fashion I studied for a degree in three dimensional which I’d always wanted to do but that soon changed. I then went on to study design before working for now head of Louis Vuitton menswear Kim Jones. He opened my eyes to styling and that’s when I knew it was the path I wanted to take. From that point forward I would test every weekend until I was strong enough to work under my own name.
TCD: If you could make a list of your favourite contemporary stylists, who would you pick?
CB: Ray Petri changed the game and his direction can still be seen in people’s work today (whether they are aware of it or not) and I was fortunate enough to meet the incredible man that is Andre Walker when I worked with Kim, but Nicola Formichetti was inspirational and really the first stylist I ever really took notice of. I remember seeing an image of a guy in a Tux smoking with an ashtray wearing a baseball face guard and thinking “who the hell styled this?”.
TCD: If you were to tag yourself on TCD, what 3 words would you use?
CB: Stylist, consultant, gentleman.
TCD: So what exciting projects are you working on right now?
CB: I’ve always worked predominately as a menswear stylist following my background but over the past year I have shot a lot of women’s for various publications. This has been a deliberate move on my part. In February I sat down with Jed of Jed Root in New York and he told me I needed more womenswear in my book. You can’t help but respect and act on what he tells you as he has a great eye and has created what can only be described as an empire. I was also appointed Creative Director of Archibald Optics London. We showed a capsule collection at LFW and are now ready to launch in January in the UK and Europe. Towards the end of January we will also be showing the collection at Project in New York in preparation for our US launch in March. It’s a brand I truly believe in: classically designed pieces in London, luxury hand craftsmanship in Japan and all at a great retail price as we cut out the middle man. Plus we donate to charity with every sale made which I think is hugely important as so many companies don’t do enough. These projects work alongside my current music clients and fashion editorials for various global publications.
TCD: What would be your dream commission?
CB: My dream commission would be to shoot a Hedi Slimane Dior retrospective with the man himself behind the camera. For me no one will ever beat him at Dior: for Lagerfeld to drop weight to fit into a suit, you know it’s good.
TCD: Go on, tell us a secret?
CB: I strangely don’t have any. What you see is what you get, I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bag thing.
Find more about Chris here.