Sarah Kathryn Cleaver, freelance editorial associate
I'm a writer and I work freelance, mainly on migrating the digital archive from the old website, updating or adding to it with the help of Adam, our archivist. I've actually worked at SHOWstudio twice; last time I was an editorial assistant. I wanted to work at SHOWstudio because I liked its analytical explorations into different facets of fashion, and the migration job is good for me because I like working with archives and things that other people have forgotten. Over my career I've realised I'm very into stories and oral histories, and there's a lot of that here. I remember being at university and watching a video with Alexander Fury telling a story about Marlene Dietrich commissioning a pair of gloves to fit so exactly that once the gloves were on she couldn't move her hands. I couldn't find that video for years until I started the migration job.
The main thing about working here is the people. The company has a knack for choosing people with a lot of creative potential and really unique ways of looking at things. I have met people here who I feel I can collaborate with and some who I think will be lifelong friends. There are colleagues and ex-colleagues I regularly discuss my ideas with, and send my writing to for edits and suggestions. When I came back here the second time I'd basically given up writing, and now I'm pitching and publishing quite a bit. I get a lot of ideas from the archive.
The only project I've worked on aside from migration since I've been back is the film screenings in the studio, which we only got to do once before Covid killed cinema. The idea was to invite a creative to pick a film that influenced their practice. Gareth Pugh picked Cabaret and I think the audience had a lot of fun. I really think film screenings are important, you don't really understand what a film is until you watch it communally on a big screen. It was nice to do that with members of the team I don't usually get to see much, like project manager Tom Prees who was a dream to work with. For a while during the beginning of lockdown the editorial team got obsessed with this article that separated workers into two types – 'makers' and 'managers'. As a hopeless maker, I've really grown to appreciate manager types working here.
I've worked on basically all the archive projects while making the new website. I've read every essay and watched every film, so it's really tricky to pick a favourite. I often like small elements of past projects. At the moment I'm really into a certain time period where they'd take BTS photos of a shoot on the webcam, and the quality of the images is very beautiful and can't really be replicated with today's technology. I love the fashion films of Marie Schuller, Danny Sangra and Alice Hawkins. And I really love Subjective because the models have interesting anecdotes.
Technologically, SHOWstudio did a lot of things first but I also think as a company we're maybe more approachable than other fashion media brands. And for that reason a lot of people start their careers with us or work with us when they're emerging, and that's an important thing - to not be intimidating.
Hetty Mahlich, features editor
I’m SHOWstudio’s features editor. After finishing my art foundation, I left London to go to uni and felt really disconnected leaving that creative bubble behind. SHOWstudio became a lifeline for me and I distinctly remember watching the Raf Simons S/S 18 panel discussion, which is one of those gooduns where the panelists really knew their shit about the designer’s back catalogue and and provide an entertaining and accessible way to begin to learn more about the industry. Seeing that panel really kicked off a craving to get into the nitty gritty of fashion history.
I didn’t make the connection between SHOWstudio and Nick’s work until later and when I did, I was really fascinated by the marriage of storytelling, image-making and critical analysis across the site. I'd never seen anything like it before. The possibility of working at SHOWstudio never really occurred to me until a friend posted the editorial internship online. I was searching for a job at the time and couldn’t find anywhere which made me feel as excited about fashion, or anything for that matter, like SHOWstudio did.
Every project we work on is different and requires a different approach, so we’re constantly challenging ourselves and thinking about new ways of doing things. Nick is a real visionary and is always pushing us to be better than our best. ‘Impossible’ isn’t really in his vocabulary.
What I miss most about pre-WFH life is the people. I’ve made friends for life and learnt a lot from everyone on the team, who each have their own unique interests and way of doing things, but above all are incredibly generous with their knowledge. We all work closely together and it’s still a real privilege to see everyone doing their thing.
Best In Show is a favourite project as the filming days were a real laugh and you get to be up close with the best of the latest collections. Engaging with all the guests' different perspectives keeps you on your toes; the worst thing you can do is stop questioning yourself and think you know it all. It was also a really special experience working on Nick’s MAXIMALISM shoot when I was an intern. It was my first time on a proper large-scale set where the interns weren't banished downstairs. Nick always encourages everybody to come and take a peek when he’s shooting, and being able to see all the different elements come together was so exciting.
My favourite archive project is North. It was one of the first projects I came across on site and I still find it really exciting. It’s always made me tick; connecting fashion so explicitly to culture and the idea of creating a whole story, not just one aspect. I also really love In Fashion. It’s brilliant having these records of so many designers when they first started out, like a young Craig Green, or records of fashion greats such as the late Louise Wilson. The archives in general are a real gold mine. Tom Ford S/S 16 is also a certified pick-me-up.
I remember Nick once saying that fashion talks to itself. For me, SHOWstudio is still the only place remedying that. We have no advertisers which is extremely rare, so we don’t have an ulterior motive. SHOWstudio has democratised fashion by offering a platform for different opinions and voices, then inviting the viewer to make their own conclusion. Fashion has gotten to be far too comfortable and I think SHOWstudio gives it a much needed kick up the arse. Fashion film and live-broadcasting might seem more commonplace now in the Zoom era, but no one was doing this twenty years ago until SHOWstudio and Nick came along. It’s hard to find the words to neatly summarise something which has become an amalgamation of so many things. There’s also some real visionaries who have started their careers with SHOWstudio, so I think its contribution is even further reaching than one might expect. What Nick created has had a ripple effect across the industry, that’s for sure.
Calum Knight, content editor
I’m SHOWstudio’s content editor. SHOWstudio is a place to explore and nothing we do is ever the same. We start new projects from scratch and work through the creative process in an open, collaborative way. It really is unlike anywhere else.
My favourite project I’ve worked on is Reality Inverse. Seeing it come to life in the studio was an absolute privilege. We shot the rain scene with Duckie right at the end of the two-day shoot, and someone on set gave us a very long speech about how none of us were allowed to watch, since the lasers were really strong. Of course, none of us could resist. We all ended up having a peek and were laughing our heads off as diamond-esque drops bounced off Duckie’s couture umbrella. It was magical.
I have so many favourite archive projects, but I often revisit J-Walk if I need something to amp up a slow day of WFH. Throughout this year, with all the changes to our industry and daily lives, I've started to see just how important SHOWstudio’s ethos is in our industry. From live-streaming and fashion film to honest critique, SHOWstudio really has been there from the beginning.
Violet Conroy, editorial and migration assistant
I’m the editorial and migration assistant at SHOWstudio, which entails writing, research, interviews, organisation over fashion weeks and building up the collections archive on the website. I was first introduced to SHOWstudio through Nick’s work; I saw that classic photo of Susie Bick smoking for Yohji Yamamoto and fell in love. When I visited SHOWstudio itself, interview projects like In Fashion, In Camera and In Your Face kept me on site for hours and hours. I’d never seen filmed interviews that were so thoughtfully set up, both aesthetically and intellectually. I was intrigued by the visual language of SHOWstudio, which seemed to bleed into everything they did: into the editorials, panel discussions, interviews and fashion films. Walls were painted black or white, there were always fresh flowers, rogue vintage chairs and colourful china sets around, all backdropped by plenty of natural light coming through the skylight in the cove.
I’d interned at a few fashion magazines before arriving at SHOWstudio in 2018, but it was my favourite place to work by miles. The people I met were interesting, open and all extremely passionate about what they did. Interning at other magazines had often been a solitary, anonymous experience where you were very much left to your own devices and emailed rather than spoken to in person. SHOWstudio was the opposite of all that. I’ve made friends here over the years that I now cannot imagine my life without. SHOWstudio has also taught me to be versatile in my work since every day is different, and no one is limited to one singular job.
My favourite SHOWstudio project that I’ve worked on was the Harrods takeover we did earlier this year since we were allowed free rein to talk about imagery and film on an expansive LED screen, where the images were in ultra HD. Compiling and editing these interviews for the 20th anniversary was also great since I got to hear firsthand about everyone’s experiences of SHOWstudio. It’s such a special place that is often hard to describe to people who don’t work here, so hearing the teams' opinions was an insightful and often surprising experience.
It’s so hard to pick a favourite archive project, but I can say which of Nick’s images are my favourite. I love Maenads, the images of Sinéad O'Dwyer's wearable fibreglass sculptures; they're frenetically edited and look like a beautiful nightmare dreamed up by Hans Bellmer or Jenny Saville. Nick's glitchy image of Travis Scott's album cover for Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight is also a favourite - can you tell I'm a smoker yet? Aside from imagery, there’s hours of footage of incredible interviews with people like Kanye West, Wolfgang Tillmans, Travis Scott and Alexander McQueen. I also adore Raquel Couceiro's Soft Furnishings film; it's super erotic and verges on ASMR.
Aside from SHOWstudio’s obvious pioneering role of videographic mediums like fashion film, live-streaming and panel discussions, I think the most important aspect of the site is its online archive. A wealth of fascinating imagery, film and writing is available online for free, and you can really get lost in it. As exhibitions shut around the world thanks to the pandemic, online cultural resources are vital, but SHOWstudio has been providing content for its online audience in an accessible way for the past 20 years. That’s special, and there’s something for everyone on site. I was introduced to SHOWstudio at least five years ago and I’m still not bored of the archive. In fact, there’s still so much I haven’t explored yet.
Anthony Helal, social media assistant
I'm the social media assistant at SHOWstudio. I first came across Nick Knight from his image Susie Smoking, featuring Susie Bick for Yohji Yamamoto in 1988. It's such a stunning image, so simple but so pure. At the time I never knew about SHOWstudio, it was just an image saved on my phone.
When I was in college I was introduced to SHOWstudio by a close friend of mine. I started watching all the panels and learnt a lot from them. I've always been interested in fashion, photography and film but none of my friends were growing up, so finding a platform which was all about that was incredible to me.
As a platform, SHOWstudio has uplifted creative people like no other. I feel so honoured to be part of a team that's so talented, kind, hard-working and truly brings out the best in you. Being the social media assistant, I get to revisit films a lot and that allows me to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes I'll get a different emotion from a film depending on how I feel that day. There are so many projects that I love, but to name a few it would have to be Compulsive Viewing: The Films Of Guy Bourdin and S.W.A.L.K. - that final scene is breathtaking.
Christina Donoghue, freelance editorial assistant
I’m a freelance editorial assistant at SHOWstudio. I feel like SHOWstudio always does things with such excitement; every project is a little bit different to the last, showcasing incredible talent from around the world. That in itself is enough to want to be a part of it all.
SHOWstudio gives me the opportunity to constantly write in different styles and to develop my writing skills, which has been a massive help and benefit for me so far. Being surrounded by like-minded people is great and encourages creativity and the flow of ideas, which is crucial to platforms like SHOWstudio.
As a self-declared Bowie fanatic, with no doubt (or shame) my favourite project is David Bowie: Oooh Fashion! Launched in 2016, the project mimics a similar format to the 2015 Unseen McQueen series. The project includes panel discussions, essays, illustrations, never-before-seen archive footage of Bowie and video footage of Kate Moss modelling many of Bowie’s signature looks (the waistcoat from his first film Man Who Fell to Earth along with many of the infamous Ziggy Stardust looks designed by Kansai Yamamoto in the early seventies). Considering the fact that my life has pretty much been ruled by my Bowie obsession since I was around eight or nine, I feel like I’ve seen every bit of footage there is to see of him on the internet: the horrendous Russel Harty interviews, his questionable appearance on The Dick Cavett Show and of course, all the live performances and tour footage over the years. So when I came across the archive footage of Nick Knight shooting Bowie for his 1993 album Black Tie White Noise, I fell in love. Seeing Bowie as his natural self, away from the press and live show appearances, to just sit and watch the star act in a normal intimate setting away from the public eye - so, so good. I must’ve watched it at least 11 or 12 times by now. The panel discussion in the project where they discuss Bowie’s relationship with fashion is also especially insightful.
SHOWstudio really was the first to showcase fashion in movement, away from the stagnant (not to mention repetitive) images seen in some fashion magazines. The 21st century has welcomed a digital era and SHOWstudio has helped the way we see fashion in that context.