Out of My Closet: Olivia Buckingham

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 9:56am

Photographer-turned-stylist and girl-about-town Olivia Croucher Buckingham says it's all about structure when it comes to styling herself. The realisation hit her the first time she wore a flirty Roland Mouret galaxy dress.

"I met Roland Mouret at a dinner. It was one of the first fashion events I went to when I moved back here," says Hong Kong-born Buckingham, who returned four years ago from London. "When I put it on, it was like a Cinderella moment that took me from a baby sophisticated dresser to a grown-up one."

Her obsession with the silhouette is evident in the custom-made closet in her Mid-Levels apartment. Think an oxblood Burberry dress with open back cut-out and cinched at the waist, a midriff-showing beige leather and silk gown from Chloé, a colour blocking body-hugging number from Stella McCartney and a structured jacket from Haider Ackermann.

"My style is clean cut, nothing too fussy, nothing too frilly. Everything should be quite structured," she says. "Take this Burberry dress, though it's pleated and pretty, it still has straight lines to define the silhouette, a zip finish and cut out at the back."

Buckingham started out as a portrait and landscape photographer, then worked at a public relations firm before becoming a fashion styling assistant.

"I absolutely love styling, especially coming from a photographic background, I have a deeper understanding of what people are looking for having been behind the lens myself," she says.

The styling job has influenced the way she dresses, although she's not devoted to following trends.

"We all have different sizes, figures and personalities, so we have to appreciate that when it comes to trends," she says. "There's nothing worse than someone being really on trend if it doesn't suit them."

Looking at the clothes seasons ahead and sourcing samples for shoots has helped her curate a selective wardrobe.

"When I see the clothes at shows, I'm like, I need this, that and all but after working with them in shoots and finally seeing them in store, I know more about what I really need," she says. "I treat myself to a few key pieces every season."

Buckingham has worked out a system to change quickly from fashion shoots to parties.

"If I don't have an event, I live in skinny jeans, T-shirt, tuxedo jacket and my Isabel Marant Bekket high top sneakers," says Buckingham, who had at least three pairs of the sneakers, plus a few pairs of Superga canvas sneakers.

Her walk-in-closet - which she traded her second bedroom space for - is neatly organised.

"Sometimes when I rush home and only have 10 minutes to change, I need to know roughly where everything is. If my wardrobe is in chaos, my mind is in chaos," she says.

And when she goes to London fashion week, she packs three suitcases of clothes and accessories. "I think about how I'm going to wear them when I pack in Hong Kong and when I unpack in London, I group so I know exactly what I'll be wearing."

Another tip for her to pull off transitional looks is to accessorise.

"I think as long as you are not wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt, you can change a total look by just changing accessories," she says. "I absolutely can't understand the concept of kitten heels. For me it's all or nothing."

Her favourite shoes include black suede Christian Louboutin Daffodile pumps, Walter Steiger's horn heel pumps and everything by Charlotte Olympia.

For jewellery and bags, Buckingham loves the vintage Chanel 2.55s and gold strands she got from her mother and also statement earrings from Lara Bohinc.

"I like to tie my hair back, so I feel naked without wearing earrings," she says.