Verity Pemberton is the embodiment of the phrase 'je ne sais quoi'. A freelance stylist and creative consultant born and bred in London, Verity has the kind of personal style that is impossible to replicate. There is a magic about her that translates to everything she touches.
A vintage clothing fanatic and self-confessed fashion geek, Verity’s enthusiasm for the industry led to her winning the Peter Jenson ‘Fashion Direction’ award, the Mulberry Accessories award and receiving sponsorship from Swarovski for her graduate collection.
Since then Verity has worked as a designer and stylist contributing to publications such as Tank, Rookie, Grazia and the Telegraph. After five years working as a full-time womenswear designer for Urban Outfitters Europe, she went freelance this year to focus on styling, consulting and her independent publication Moon Magazine.
I spoke to Verity and asked her to tell us about how she has navigated the fashion world, what challenges she has faced and where she finds inspiration - Ally
Can you tell us a a bit about your styling work?
I have been styling for a while now. I guess I'm known for doing slightly off-kilter shoots that have a bit of a mismatched feel. I'm never going to do an overtly sexy 80s shoot - it's just not my style.
I love to include vintage pieces alongside designer ones as I think it makes the shoot seem a bit more realistic. Plus there are so many amazing vintage pieces it's a great excuse to shoot them in a new exciting way.
I always try and have a say in the casting of my shoots too - for Moon casting is one of the key things. I want to get the most interesting and fun girls who suit my aesthetic.
How would you describe your personal style? How does it influence your work?
Very mismatched; I tend to dress very differently from day to day.
Sometimes I literally look like I'm in fancy dress but it's just my normal clothes. I will happily wear lederhoesen and a vintage tee.
Whenever I style shoots I always want to dress that way after. I recently did a Brian Jones themed shoot and now all I want to do is dress like him.
How did you get to this point in your career?
I started assisting other stylists when I was about 15. Looking back I don't even know what I did but I must have been helpful as I worked with the stylist Hannah Bhuiya and then got into helping Aldene Johnson, Florence Welch's stylist. I assisted Aldene on lots of Florence's music videos and even picked out diamonds for Florence to wear for the Brit Awards which was pretty fun!
I did all this alongside my uni degree in womenswear fashion and when I finished studying kept my styling up alongside my job as a full-time designer for Urban Outfitters.
For five years I was working pretty much seven days a week; Monday to Friday designing and then weekends styling or working on Moon.
Years of doing this made me think about what I wanted to do and I took a leap this year and quit my job to go freelance as a stylist, art director and creative consultant.
What are some things you think are really important for working in fashion?
Be a geek. I am a massive geek. I used to memorise model's names and their agencies when I was 14. God knows why but for some reason I thought this was interesting information to attain.
But on a serious note it really is good to keep up with all the goings on, interesting photographers, new designers, models, as things are so fast paced.
My most important tip is be kind and nice to people and treat them respectfully. It's a small industry and word travels.
No matter where you work always have your own thing going on. I live by Patti Smith's phrase "make your name your currency".
You also launched your own magazine Moon, how did you take that project from idea to reality?
I had a little fanzine when I was 16. I kept telling my brother I wanted to work for a magazine when I was older and he said "make your own" - so I did.
Me and my friends were the models and I would interview new bands or designers. I even scored an interview with Erdem very early on in his career. The zine was printed at my local art shop and I would give it out at the front row of the Eley Kishimoto fashion show (my brother was friends with them) and they really liked it.
I stopped doing my zine when I went to university but when I finished my degree I was producing so many shoots so I decided to start my zine again but in a magazine format; a lot more grown up and professional looking.
What are the greatest challenges you have faced in your career so far?
People don't tend to talk about the crappy times but I want to as I had some seriously crappy times.
In a job I kept trying to leave, I was always working on other projects to try and get a new job only to be rejected. This happened so many times it made me question my ability. However it also made me build a really thick skin and after a while I just decided to take it as a sign, it didn't mean that I wasn't good.
I came very close to giving up even though at the time I was in what some people would call a "dream job". I even looked into being in a yacht crew, although this momentary change in career lasted about 20 minutes and was after watching a documentary on sailing.
The problem is I really do love fashion and design and everything that surrounds it. After so much time procrastinating about what to do next I decided to make a change and quit my full-time job to go freelance. I have not regretted it for a second.
Do you have any mentors/idols? Who has influenced your career direction?
I guess my biggest mentor is my mum. She is just amazing, a total workaholic but in a good way because she loves it. She has been a freelance textile designer her whole life and works from home. She paints incredible patterns that get sold to people like Pierre Frey Interiors in Paris and Pottery Barn. Recently some of her patterns were used for the interior of a private jet.
I come from a really creative family so I just think being immersed in that from a really young age I was never going to come out a lawyer.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
Right now I love anything to do with Charles and Ray Eames - I'm super excited by the new exhibition about them at the Barbican. I love Jesse Kamm's wide leg trousers - they are amazing. Also plants - I keep buying them for my new house!
Image credits from top: Verity photographed by her sister Amelia Pemberton,'Night Crawler' for Tank Magazine,'Emma' for Moon Magazine, 'Rosa', unpublished editorial, Moon Magazine Issue Three, 'Rosa', unpublished editorial.