In the 90’s the world of styling was still relatively small. Those of us ensconced in it kind of knew each other, if not as a friend, then certainly by reputation, with the work created speaking on one’s behalf. There were stylists who worked across all areas of the industry, some who mainly worked on fashion shows, those that worked on editorials for the style magazine and then those who made their fame and fortune working within the music industry. William Baker was one of those, for although he had worked across many magazine editorials, he became best known for his work with Kylie Minogue, the 90’s pop princess. From styling to becoming an artistic director, William collaborated with a myriad of musicians.
Initially meeting Kylie when he was still working as a Saturday boy at the Vivienne Westwood store on Davis street, London, the two forged a working relationship over two decades which still goes strong today.
What started out as a styling job during the period Kylie was moving away from the pop platform of Stock Aitken Waterman (highly produced sugary pop) to a grown-up sex symbol, would grow considerably. In 1998 William became the
creative director for her tour in Australia. This was how his career blossomed, as he maintained the role of art director for more tours such as The Lumineers, Britney Spears, Rihanna and Outkast. For a period of five years, William was to Kylie as Jamiroquai was to Jay Kay: the Ying to Kylie’s Yang.
However, like many of the 90’s fashion stylists, William did not find it substantial enough to quench his thirst for creativity. Driven by a love of creative expression, the stream had become too enclosed and too narrow.
William picked up his ‘creative mantle’ and ran with it. He has gone on to direct a revival of Rent for the West End stage. He realised his own creative dreams in the idiosyncratic Hurly Burly burlesque show. Then, after taking up a successful photography career, he created The Book of Igor.
I had the luxury of meeting William because I thought he would be the right person to guest edit this issue. So from only knowing him by reputation, I have been lucky enough to get to know a little of the person driving this fantastical career. A cheeky glint is the first thing that struck, but don’t let that fool you; he may confess to ‘loving a high heel,’ but his
soul is an old one; a spiritual bunny, if you like. This is evident in his photographs of his travels around the religious sites in Israel.
His desire for something less glitz and glam is also clear when going back to his photography document called The Book of Igor, a study of a young straight man on the cusp of adulthood, which gives his work a subtle layer of intention.
It is very fair to say that his most iconic work is his collaboration with Kylie Minogue, where breathtaking and infamous pop fashion images were created. His initial inspiration as a boy growing up gay in Manchester during the 90’s was unsurprisingly a Madonna gig. It’s fair to say the ‘boy done more than just good’.
From the small world of 90’s styling, a mammoth talent grew, one that seems to spread and continue to develop wherever his creative mind fancies. A truly modern man, even, I would go on to say, verging on a polymath and renaissance man. The man is colourful for sure, but I get the feeling that there are many more hues still to come.
Image William Baker words Jo Phillips