Kate Foley is easily one of Fashion Month's most recognizable faces. The former Opening Ceremony buyer now works as a stylist and creative consultant, and also holds the title of contributing fashion director at luxury resale site Vestiaire Collective.
Thanks to her various roles and passion for emerging designers, she makes it her mission to see as many shows during New York Fashion Week as possible, and she always looks great while doing it, never failing to catch the eye of street style photographers for her unique, eclectic — yet practical — personal style.
We caught up with Foley last week before the madness began to discuss why she goes to Fashion Week, how she dresses for freezing weather, getting to borrow dresses from designers and more.
What's your main reason for attending NYFW and how does it fit into your regular jobs?
There's lots of different reasons because I kind of do lots of different things. First and foremost, just going to see the collections to see what's happening, what the trends are, what designers are putting out. I'm a stylist and obviously that's really important when planning stories — knowing what the direction for the upcoming season's going to be. Then as a consultant, I think it's really interesting just to be there and understand what the general feeling is. Just having conversations with people in the industry that perhaps are coming from London or all around the world. Another major point for me is finding newer brands. It's getting increasingly difficult because there are always a lot of new ones popping up.
You also style a few shows, right? How does that work?
I'm working with clients that I collaborate with throughout the year, it's an ongoing thing. I work normally with a maximum of two designers in New York and I'll do one in London and one in Paris this season. Anything bigger than that, if you're doing a full-on show, you need to do so much in terms of casting and fittings and a run-up. I wouldn't be able to also attend shows and do all the other things that I need to do, so I do little ones that I can pretty easily put together.
What do you mean by it being an ongoing thing?
I think my relationship with brands goes further than styling the collection; it's really bringing creative direction to them and helping them figure out what their voice is, whether we figure out how to do a presentation in a different way... We have 10 models standing in a room and looking kind of bored, so how can we do something fun, different and interesting that's going to capture people's attention and really tell the story of what the brand is about? A lot of my work with the younger brands is about helping them find their voices and also bringing in the right people, whether that's the retailers, whether that's press, even potential clients, really helping them build it up, and then of course the styling part. Sometimes it's the little details and having a fresh set of eyes to help put something together and polish it.
You also are someone who tends to get photographed quite a bit for street style. Do you spend much time shopping or planning your outfits for fashion week?
I guess people like my style because it's kind of eclectic, a little bit wacky and it's fun, but that's kind of my everyday. Obviously there are certain times when I get to go to an amazing show like Valentino or something and I get to wear a great Valentino dress. I'm not wearing that to work necessarily every day, but in general my Fashion Week street style isn't something I prepare specifically for the week.
How do you plan to stay warm this season?
I think it's just about having great coats, and layering. I'm kind of the queen of layering underneath what I'm wearing — like a skirt, I'm always wearing a slip and a thick pair of tights and a tank top and a T-shirt. When I get home it takes about 20 minutes to take everything off. But I have some amazing coats that look good and keep me warm. The shoe thing is a bit scary for New York Fashion Week. It would be really nice if you could wear your open-toed sandals, but realistically you might get frostbite. I've worn timberlands to shows when it's been really bad. It is what it is. Right now I have a pair of Céline wedges from fall or pre-fall 2013 and they have a massive rubber sole, so if it does snow a little bit, I'm off the ground and they do actually have grip, and they're really comfortable. I've gone through the years of wearing high heels all day but I just give up, I'd rather be comfortable. Fashion Week is hard enough as it is.
What's your process like for packing for the European fashion weeks?
I wish I was someone who planned out all my looks, and every season that's my idea — that I'm going to be so organized — but it just doesn't happen. Realistically it's not the way I dress. It's very spontaneous... I kind of just wing it and throw in everything that I love at the moment. I normally take two large suitcases, which gets me through London, Milan and Paris. I'm lucky that I get to borrow things sometimes, so if I do have a really special event I can reach out to a brand and say, I'd love to wear something like an evening cocktail dress that I didn't pack. But I'm the same as everyone; I get those times when I'm like, I have nothing to wear, and I make an expensive purchase that I wouldn't normally have made.
Do you ever get any downtime during Fashion Month and if so what do you do?
I'm really good now at selecting what I do. I will take the odd evening off and eat a meal at home and watch TV — I think it's really important to allow that time to relax and process because sometimes you can't even remember what you saw the day before. I also try to get in a run nearly every morning, which is kind of amazing. It's nice to have that time to clear your head and be on your own, and I think it gives you a lot more energy.
What's the worst thing about Fashion Week?
I think one of the worst things is not being able to do everything I'd like to do. In my dream world I would love to be able to go to every single young designer's presentation and give them my time, but scheduling is a nightmare. There's so much work people have put into their shows and presentations, and it's sad that you can't support that always.
And the best?
In the same way, you get to see amazing and inspiring things. I think it's easy to forget what Fashion Week is really about: it's about the collections, it's about what's happening, what people are producing and how it's reflecting what's happening in the world.