INTERVIEW with MICHAEL DYE
Written by Walter Grio. Photos provided by Michael Dye.
When I met Michael Dye in London in 2009, Fashiontographer did not exist yet. I had mainly been taking small photoshoot projects all around Europe and was learning as I went. But that all changed when I met Michael.
I was looking through these beautiful photos by Fulvio Maiani and I noticed that most of the photos I liked were styled by Michael Dye. He is a London and Milan based stylist who has worked for some of the major fashion magazines including Vanity Fair Italia, Elle Norway, Elle UK, Vogue Gioiello, and many others.
I was already in Europe so I asked Michael if it was possible to do a photoshoot with him to help Shoot for Change raise money for a nonprofit organization in Seattle. He replied yes and I couldn’t believe it. I was actually in Paris during that time and ended up taking a train to London for the weekend.
I suggested that we shoot at The Gore Hotel in London as I really enjoyed the decorations and the ambiance of the room. Michael and his two assistants met me at The Gore Hotel and when they arrived, Michael’s assistants unpacked the dresses, laid them out, steamed them, and hung them up for him to see. Michael would make what seemed like minor adjustments, but when he was done, the look was infinitely much better. Over a dozen designer dresses, shoes, and several thousand dollars worth of jewelry and accessories were all on display around the hotel room. It was ridiculously cool.
The Gore Hotel has several rooms and one of the rooms was called The Judy Garland, which was decorated with all of these amazing art pieces and ornate furniture. When the first look was ready, Michael suggested to shoot in the corner of the room. I wondered why — especially with how the room was decorated. His response: because of the wall’s color. It was an eye opener for me. It led me to think more of colors and to look for details in a room. Maybe it’s a piece of the mirror or the furniture or simply the color of the wall — but it just clicked. My photos looked more editorial than ever before.
Michael also worked fast — style the model, shoot photo, change dress, change look. Next. Done. We ended up shooting about 6 different looks in less than an hour. It was amazing and was definitely a turning point in how I approached a fashion photoshoot. I will forever be grateful to Michael. I’ve worked with very talented people throughout my career, but Michael was the first person who helped take my photography skills to the next level.
Tell us about your professional work.
I am a fashion editor and art director. I have periods where I am really busy than other times. When I had free time, it used to make me feel anxious, but now I just try to enjoy my downtime. I love my job because not one job is the same as the next. I am dressing models and celebrities and each time, it’s someone different — different crew, different clothes. But I don’t like having to carry a lot of luggage around the globe!
When did you know you wanted to do this?
I grew up in Australia and when I was in my twenties, I moved from Adelaide to Sydney. I started working as a visual merchandiser. I enjoyed this and I also did modeling on the side. One day, my friend asked me to style a shoot as her original stylist let her down. I loved it and from there, I found my new career.
Can you take us through the process of what it’s like when you’re looking at a collection and getting ready for a shoot?
When shooting, it’s all about quality and not quantity. When I work in the United States, they normally expect racks and racks of clothes on set. But I am more about getting the right pieces for the shoot. If I am shooting a celebrity, I research them with my team to see his or her style, colors that work for them, and even their necklines.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in the fashion industry?
To be a good stylist, it’s all about the eye and the feeling. It’s one thing if you have a top model, top brands, and top photographer. It’s then quite easy to make something look great. But a truly great stylist can create something amazing with an average model, clothes, and photographer. That’s the mark of someone with great talent. If you want to be a stylist, your heart has to be in it.
Who are some of the people that you’ve worked with? Who would you love to work with that you haven’t yet?
I have worked with quite a few celebrities like Pierce Brosnan, Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts, Renee Zellweger, just to name a few. I would love to work with Cate Blanchett — she is both talented and beautiful — but there are so many others!
What inspires you to do what you do and what inspires you to keep doing it?
I get inspired by film. In fact, I am in talks with a director to make a short fashion film. I love nature, food, contemporary art, and traveling inspires me a great deal.
RELATED LINK: WALTER GRIO’S PHOTOSHOOT WITH MICHAEL DYE