A chat with Laura Bailey
Laura Bailey is a model, photographer, writer and contributing editor at British Vogue. She became a model after being spotted in the Kings Road and has been shot by David Bailey, Mario Testino and Manuela Pavese among countless others & continues to shoot and collaborate as a model on diverse art, editorial and commercial projects.
She serves as a long term brand ambassador for Chanel, and has expanded her opportunities for creative expression across different fields. As a writer, her words have appeared in The Independent, the FT, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, The Sunday Times and British Vogue, where she also became contributing editor in 2011.
More recently, she has become known as a photographer, with assignments for Conde Nast Traveller, Self-Service, The Ingenue, Unpolished Magazine, The September Issues and Lula as well as Chanel Beauté, Temperley London, Coco de Mer and Blumarine. Her portrait work appears regularly in British Vogue, as well as the current cover story of the Fall/Winter issue of Violet Book. For the latter, she also directed her first short film starring Francesca Hayward, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet.
We talked to Laura about the variety of her creative life.
Did you really start your modelling career while walking along the Kings Road?
Yes, I was scouted but it’s a while ago now and my career has long crossed many creative worlds. A lucky moment changed my life and opened up a whole world of art and travel and adventure.
Had you been interested in fashion before that moment?
Yes – interested in – or at least aware of – style but more so in sport. I was obsessed with athletics and hockey as a kid, more interested in running spikes than high heels.
Did you read the fashion magazines?
I grew up reading The Face and i-D and music magazines.
Was writing always something you intended to move into?
I’ve never had a plan really, but I have always written, and storytelling connects my diverse creative lives – on both sides of the camera, and as a writer and editor.
Did you foresee that you might one day find yourself in Vogue as a writer and photographer?
I live very much for the moment, so no, I couldn’t really imagine it, but it still feels like a total dream.
Had you always taken photographs yourself?
Yes, I have always taken photographs. But it was only when my friend and collaborator, stylist Cathy Kasterine, showed my personal work to a few people that I got the chance to start shooting editorially three or four years ago. Before then it was just something I loved, that I’d always done without thinking about or analysing it. Now I get to work with talented teams and amazing people, but I’m still happiest shooting solo, reportage.
Did you take particular inspiration from any of the photographers you’d worked with as a model?
One of my favourite photographers to work with when I started modelling was Manuela Pavese – and I loved the energy and atmosphere she created as well as her images. But I am inspired by so many – some for their work, some for the way they made me feel.
Modelling now I feel so much more free and fearless – like a holiday!
Is there someone you’d really like to photograph?
I’d like to start photographing more men and boys! And also get out on location again when we are allowed to travel. I am restless for the road. Plus I’m more and more interested in documenting sport and street style outside of the studio and in combining my passions for photography and philanthropic work – especially regarding girls and sport/education.
Has 2020 and its various lockdowns changed your sense of fashion?
These are extreme times, but if anything I’ve taken more pleasure in style or fashion than usual, be that sportswear, walking gear or the occasional party dress for no reason. I’ve always been drawn to the extremes – I love the practical as well as the princess. I have lived in my Doc Martens and menswear, but also my black eyeliner and Chanel layers. I have observed the importance of ritual be that via dog walks with friends or beauty treats or just reading with my kids.
And my tennis obsession has kept me sane!
How would you describe yourself and what you do at this point in your life?
As a mother and an artist.
What are you up to next?
Making pictures, telling stories, learning about film, home schooling, ideas and portraits for Vogue, dreaming of travel.
Continuing to collaborate with inspiring friends and teams.
Plus, mentoring and volunteering in my community and continuing my work as an Ambassador for Save The Children.