AM: The exhibition displays the 200 Vogue covers you’ve worked on, do you have a favourite?
SM: I think the favourite is always the last one you did. There are so many amazing models, photographers and actresses. When you have done so much you have an emotional attachment to everything, whether it’s the person in the picture, who may no longer be with us, or you had a long working relationship with a photographer, there are so many different things at play. A shoot is really personal, it’s not just to do with the hair, make-up and styling, it’s to do with the personal connections that you have on that shoot. And I’ve been really lucky to work with the best teams in the world and develop those relationships. It’s never just about the hair. It’s about the collaboration between hair, make-up and photographer, working together to make an amazing image.
AM: I recall you being very much part of that time when the supermodel became the supermodel…
SM: The industry was really small then, I can’t take credit for it but I was definitely part of it, so you were working with the same 12 models for maybe 5 years. It was like family you know.
AM: As one of the very first session stylists, how do you think the industry has changed and evolved over the years?
SM: It was a much slower process before. The industry was so much smaller and very niche. Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar were the 2 main magazines. And there came The Face and i-D in the 80s. At the risk of sounding really old, I experienced a certain magic and creativity in the polaroid and the unknown being on the camera. Only the experienced photographer on set would know if there was something there. That kind of mystery has gone with digital and it feels a little formulaic now. We went through the hyper over-retouched phase where hair and skin didn’t look like hair or skin anymore, and I think now we are moving away from that. As technology gets more and more refined I think we will see some element of that magic I hope. We will never go back to film; it’s not going to happen. Although some people still use it, like Tim Walker. I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot here, but there is a danger at the moment of photographers’ pictures all looking the same as they all go through the same digital process and that’s what magazines want. But we are now seeing smaller, more niche magazines and young photographers using film and exploring different ways of looking at things and I think that’s much more interesting.