Fashion on YouTube can be a tricky nut to crack. Historically, videos that performed were shopping hauls or daily vlogs documenting #OOTDs — not the type of content traditional "fashion people" put out. And even with Derek Blasberg on board, it's been tough for truly original fashion-focused channels to cut through all the noise and really pop. (Save for Naomi Campbell's, of course, which was instantly iconic.) That's why Kate Young's approach has been so refreshing.
Last month, the stylist known for her work with Selena Gomez, Dakota Johnson, Margot Robbie and many other famously well-dressed celebrities, debuted her own YouTube channel with a new series called "Hello, Fashion," produced and presented by The Slowdown. (The company's founder, Andrew Zuckerman, is a longtime friend and had been a part of her Covid-19 quarantine pod.)
"Derek Blasberg and I have been friends for twenty years at this point — we were assistants at Vogue together — and when he went to YouTube he was like, 'You need to start a YouTube channel.' And I was like, 'I don't have time for that — I don't have time to brush my hair. I can't get my head around it.'" she remembers. "Then Hung [Vanngo, the makeup artist] started one and was like, 'You need to start a YouTube channel. It's the future.' And I had more time."
Young began thinking about in earnest around September, but she couldn't nail down the concept for what she wanted her channel to be. She'd watch the fashion-focused videos she could find on the platform, but would feel turned off by the tone, which she sensed fed into stereotypes that people in the industry can be mean or vapid. Instead, she kept coming back to the type of content she did like on YouTube: cooking shows.
"I love 'The Great British Bake Off' — I don't bake, I've never made a single thing inspired by that show, but I really enjoy the process," she explains. "I enjoy watching someone who's good at something figure out a problem or explain how they do it. I'm obsessed." A lightbulb went off in her head: "I was like, 'That's kind of what I want to do."
The reality is, she continues, most people won't get to see our touch an haute couture gown IRL — but she can show them the "beauty and magic in it," and bring them along for the ride.
Then, while talking with The Slowdown's Zuckerman about YouTube — broadly, not really in the context of them partnering — something clicked. "A lot of the YouTube content that I really like is shot with an iPhone, but I didn't feel like I could do that comfortably and didn't know how to do that in a way that felt as elevated as the stuff I was showing," she tells Fashionista. "My whole job is that I like things that are beautiful. I couldn't make YouTube shows that weren't beautiful. When I had him come in — someone that I know really well, who knows me really well, who I can just talk and who will make sure it looks good — I was like, 'That was the missing piece.'"
When it came to the meat of the show, Young also had a clear idea of what she didn't want to do: "A lot of what people were suggesting I do was 'what to wear every day,' and that's something I'm really opposed to. Journalists always [ask,] 'What are the five things every woman needs?' There aren't five things.The way I style clients is, everyone's an individual — if you're a woodworker in Portland, you don't need the same things as an art dealer in Miami. There's no crossover, and you're both chic."
"I'm more interested in style as a whole," she notes, "giving you visual stuff that makes you wanna wear your red sweater that day." (That being said: She does want to do an episode on underwear. Stay tuned for that.)
Much like her initial connection and impetus to join YouTube, the name of the series harkens to Young's time at Vogue. "'Hello, fashion' is how I answered the phone when I worked at the fashion department at Vogue," she explains. "It's been a joke in my office for the longest time. My friend who worked in the beauty department, she had to answer the phone, 'Hello, beauty.' Whenever I call her, I'm like, 'Hello, beauty.'"
It also alludes to one of the most distinctive and fun parts of the show, which is when Young FaceTimes the people directly connected to the Look of the Day, so to speak. The bit was born out of necessity, given the precautions needed to film safely during a pandemic. ("It's three people who shoot the show, and we all get tested twice. You can see in the show that the window's open. It's like twenty degrees in there," Young says of the arrangement.) But it not only adds to the charm of the series, it emphasizes the deeply personal connections, experiences and memories we have with fashion.
"I was like, 'It would make a lot of sense to talk to Selena, but with Covid it's very difficult to talk to anybody... We couldn't figure out the protocol, so I was like, 'What if I just FaceTime them? It's called 'Hello Fashion,' we'll just FaceTime people,'" Young reasons. "Also, it makes it easier if people are not in town. It was easy to call Giambattista [Valli] and Harris [Reed]. And honestly, it's a very low [commitment] for people — like, 'Will you do a five minute FaceTime with me? I'll turn you black and white. You'll look good.' It doesn't require hair and makeup and a publicist and three Covid tests."
"It functions in another way, too," she continues. "There are a lot of people who are super successful fashion [creators] on YouTube [that] are not fashion people but are authorities on YouTube. I needed to differentiate myself from them somehow. They have voices that are important on YouTube. My voice isn't right now, but my voice does have relevance in the fashion medium. So that's what I'm trying to do there. I'm not talking about a celebrity that I've never met and critiquing their outfit. I'm talking about somebody I work with, calling the person who made the dress."
The FaceTime portion of the episodes have also made for some of the most unexpectedly funny moments in the series so far, like when Dakota Johnson hopped on to talk about moodboards in waist-up Kate Young cosplay: a crewneck top, plaid blazer and necklace. For the record, that moment was all Johnson.
"The truth of the matter is, we did a whole FaceTime and I forgot to record the sound," Young says, with a laugh. "I texted her like, 'I'm so profesh, can we do it again?' And in the first one, she was like, 'What jacket are wearing? I have that jacket, that's a good jacket.' When I said I needed to re-do the thing, she was like, 'Well, I need to go somewhere, so you need to give me 15 minutes.' When we did it again, she had the jacket on."
Young and The Slowdown began filming the series at the beginning of the year, when awards season would typically be kicking off. "Usually, when I walk in the door at my office on the first day of the year, it's insane and beautiful — it's sparkly dresses and couture and the most beautiful handbags and the prettiest shoes you've ever seen in your life," she explains. "All of my old assistants come back and work for me and we make it like a girls weekend — that wasn't happening this year. I miss the people, I miss the actresses, I miss the publicists. I miss everyone. I miss the beauty."
Awards season, as we know, has marched on. But it hasn't been the same — and Young sensed that other people would feel that way, too. So she decided to take a stroll down (the red-carpeted) memory lane, and call in some of her favorite gowns from awards shows past and film an episode about them.
"A lot of the shows are me having reunions with my old friends," she tells us. "When we got ready to shoot those episodes, I walked into the office and the dresses were there, I was like, 'Oh my god, yes. Like, this is what I love. This is the point of my job.'"
One of those old friends was Michelle Williams' iconic 2006 Oscars Great Outfit. "I haven't seen that dress... I mean, I don't know how long ago that was, it's older than my kids," she says of the canary-yellow Vera Wang design. "There were things about it that I didn't remember. And there are real time markers in it — like there's a seam down the center front and instead of being invisible, it's got a raw edge exposed on either side, which is so Alber Elbaz's Lanvin. It's so of that era." The actor (who lent her the gown for the video) hopped on FaceTime to reminisce, too.
Through making "Hello, Fashion," Young has learned a few things, mostly about herself. For one, "I forgot that I can't wear heels all day. I haven't worn heels in a year," she says. "I wanna look nice, so I put heels on to shoot the shows, and I wanna die at the end of the day." She's also stepped into a new position, in a way, of having to be her own stylist: "I just wear what I like and I don't worry about what it looks like. But I'm having to watch myself in edit and I'm like, 'That doesn't work, this does work. I need to get to get an outfit that looks more like that.' I didn't apply my own technique to myself in the past. I'm learning myself like I learn a client. [Now that] I have to spend time watching these videos, I have a different eye for myself."
Young's also been surprised to see that a lot of the questions and requests she gets are about her, not her famous clients. "A lot of people have asked about my hair, which is funny — because it's long and blonde, and most people's hair falls out when it's this color...," she explains. "I was surprised that it's more about me. I'd rather talk about dresses, to be honest."
Still, the feedback she receives does inform the themes of her videos: A question about how she finds a look for a specific client inspired her moodboard episode featuring Johnson, for instance, and she's planning on filming something about what's in her kit (another common inquiry) in the near future.
"Honestly, I'm surprised that people like it," she says. "I'm super grateful for every nice comment and every person that follows."