Walking in with fishnets, patent boots and a Von Dutch purse, Leah Abbott was every bit of the Tastemaker that we thought she was. At the end of last year, we at 94Five had the pleasure of meeting up with the stylist who’s looks have been posted across Instagram time and time again giving us major throwback realness. Leah came across our radar when Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ video blew up upon it’s release, but since then she’s been using her stand out fashion taste to create a styling career, leading her into modelling jobs with Nike, Styling for Rae Sremmurd, and a whole lot more.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in bristol actually, with my Mum and sister, I moved here like 3 and a half years ago to go to Uni, I went to Kings College and studied English, I'm a bit of a nerd really.
Growing up did you think you were gonna go into fashion?
It wasn’t really something I thought of, I would always drag my Mum shopping for like 5 hours on my birthday, I’d always say can we go London for a shopping trip, so it’s always been something that was naturally in me but in school I was very… English, Maths… I've always been a bit nerdy to be honest.
How did it all start then?
I guess I moved here [to London] and there’s so much more options, like all these vintage shops and stuff, and then I’d be on Instagram just taking pictures, so I guess from that people would say ‘you’ve got kind of a cool style’ and it just naturally made me get to work in it. Now I’m interning.
Scrolling through Leah’s Instagram it’s 00’s and 90’s galore, early last year I tracked down her page and fell in love with her Spice-Girl meets boujee-girl fashion pieces, and it clearly got the attention of the right people with the major moves she’s been making. It’s dope to see a curvy girl owning her body and easily fleeing between a baggy bomber jacket with a pair of Nike’s or a nipple bearing halter top, not caring for the looks or associations, and truly expressing herself through fashion in the way that it should be done - unapologetically.
What’s your opinion on women in fashion, sexualisation and the idea that it’s often to please the male gaze?
I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, I might take pictures and they can be a bit sexy but I’m doing it for me. There’s a Drake lyric ‘do it for yourself men never notice’ - if they wanna see it in that way you can’t stop them, people’s minds are sometimes very small. So it’s more about taking ownership of your sexuality and how you present yourself. If you’re in a room full of guys, present yourself in a respectable manner and that’s how they’ll perceive you. It’s just all presentation, I can take a picture in underwear but if I own it, and I’m saying I’m not a hoe then no one can tell me differently.
What’s your definition of femininity?
I would say loving yourself as a woman and being comfortable in your own skin. To me that’s very feminine, I dress often in baggy clothes but will still feel girly.
A2’s latest video release for the turnt track ‘X2 (DBLE)’ shows the effortlessly sultry aesthetic that Leah seamlessly is able to put together, making for a visually futuristic, femme fatal filled visual. Check it out.
When picking clothes out for yourself what do you base it on?
I don’t base it on much, like today I have an interview with you but I didn’t really base it on that, I guess I wake up and just look at what I’ve got and think what haven’t I worn in a while, base it on normal stuff, decide on normal things, like what’s the weather like.
Where do you shop?
I work in Brick Lane so I get a lot of my stuff from there, so vintage shops or even car boot sales, you can get an amazing top for like £2. In Victoria there’s a triangle of charity shops where people chuck away their designer stuff or even online as well, I can be on eBay shopping for hours.
Why do you think there’s a lot more curvier models now?
I think people get bored of seeing the same thing, I think there’s a lot of great styles that can even look better on curvier figures. I think you can get a variety of fashion out if there’s a variety of models too, I think it’s cool and the Internet has definitely helped that, it allows people to see their clothes on real people.
Do you have any favourite models?
Not really but there’s a girl I know called Paloma (@palomija) she’s from New York and I’ve always thought she was so sick […] I don’t know if she’d call herself a professional model but she does a lot of modelling.
With a modelling campaign for the NikeXRoundell collab plastered all over the Underground and across stores, Leah’s modelling is taking off. Catching up with her in the New Year, she also mentioned her campaign with Illustrated people - stocked in TopShop if your feeling for a lil shopping trip. We’re all here for the popularity of curvier models and are hoping to see Leah’s face more often if that means promoting women of colour and women with ‘real’ figures.
3 people who’s style you admire and why?
Rihanna is a boring obvious one but of course her. Not really many celebrities, I’d say my friends, I got a friend called Rhiannon who brings it every, single, time, and probably a boy I know called Conor. People around me. I think the best fashion school going on right now is the working class people.
Your own fashion choices are really nostalgic, so what are your favourite eras?
I would say 90’s, early 2000’s, but I do like to mix it with punk from the 80’s or 70’s bell bottoms - but early 2000’s - very R&B, lip gloss popping.
What kind of music do you like?
Definitely Grime, R&B, I like a lot of Jazz, especially if it’s live, more instrumental stuff, ‘BadBadNotGood’ is great, there’s a guy called Terence Martin who’s released some really good songs recently, everyone always says ‘Leah you listen to such slow music!’ but I’m happy, the slow jam to me is not because I’m sad, haha.
What’s your favourite music to listen to when styling?
If I’m getting ready to go out then Garage, I just let my iTunes run so definitely some rap too.
Would you say the fashion work your doing is linked to music?
I would say so, I guess a lot of the time when I post on Instagram I’ll use a song lyric as a caption. If I see the image and it reminds me of a music video or a song then I use that. If I could sing I’d be out there for sure!
How would you describe the creative scene right now?
Ever-changing. People often say style right now has a short expiry date so very fast paced.
Nearing the end of 2016 Mura Masa released the video for the A$AP Rocky collaboration Love$ick, which Leah had the pleasure of styling and even getting a cameo in, showcasing the real essence of being young and free as a kid in London.
How did the Love$ick video come about?
I work for a woman called Lucy and we done a few videos for the Director Yoni before and he got Lucy on board and I work for her, so she asked me to help with it because it was a big job, so I worked as her assistant, it was 2 days, we went along together to style it and I managed to even be in with a little cameo at the end there.
How do you pick out the clothes for a shoot?
Sometimes we’ll ask people to bring there own stuff, so these young boys in the video we asked them to bing something because it was about being young and streetstyle, but often it’s going to PR companies or shopping around.
Do you have a favourite brand?
Not really but I love Gucci, I’m not on the full time Gucci budget yet but I have a few vintage pieces from them.
A little time has passed since sitting with Leah but since then her own individual stylist work has been put to the test with her styling the latest video for 808ink, coming out this year. With street-style that often mixes the clothing for Men and Women in her own wardrobe, Leah’s excited about the recognition, ‘particularly as a woman being recognised and appreciated by males as well as females, it was a great feeling when the boys reached out to me personally to be involved’. She even put together clothes for Rae Sremmurd during their time in London and has also styled singer Jorja Smith. The farms just keep flowing.
What is generation 94five to you?
Our generation is beautiful, were very open minded and a lot more tolerant of each other, of course there’s not nice people in every generation but generally were more accepting of everyone. My group of friends is 10 times more diverse than my mum’s friends or dad’s, because theres a lot more opportunity to be around different people. I’ve seen stuff that happened in history and what hate can do to the world so it’s such a good thing to be in this generation.
Follow Leah Abbott on Instagram (@leahabbott_) if you’re looking for a lil throwback fashion inspiration mixed with Grime vixen vibes. What’s not to love. If you keep an eye out, she just might be styling one of your fav's very soon.