22 August 2018

SHOWROOM x Industry Leaders: A brief guide to styling your lookbook with Siobhan Lyons

SHOWROOM x Industry Leaders: A brief guide to styling your lookbook with Siobhan Lyons

Credit: Siobhan Lyons for The September Issues photographed by Mary Rozzi

On how to style your lookbook in collaboration with Siobhan Lyons.

These days most brands tend to treat lookbooks and campaigns like editorials. There is a lot of thought that goes into it with regards to creative direction and the concept as well as casting the right model and booking the right team. Lookbooks tend to be seasonal and sometimes they are concept based, either way normally there is a ‘story’ or a narrative involved.

The direction

Defining the overall mood of the shoot is vital for both the photographer and stylist to gain an understanding of what are the expectations. Creative Direction is literally the ‘direction’ the brand has chosen to follow. To ‘speak’ to your customer or to ‘sell’ you need a context; in other words, a muse, a story, a situation, head to toe styling and sometimes an inspiring location.

It’s very important to have an understanding of brand’s creative direction and embody that within the styling and photography. Lookbooks are generally ‘head-to-toe’, fully styled outfits that are put in place so that customers can make purchase decisions. Ultimately, lookbooks sell clothes. The better the styling is the customer is more likely not to buy just one item of clothing but to invest in the total look.

For me, honesty is important – if i can’t imagine it or see something else underlying within an image, I won’t believe it and therefore I can’t buy it. I think the key role of the stylist is to show clothing in a way that inspires people how to wear and style it. In a way, it is about re-inventing the clothes and giving them a new lease of life. For brands, lookbooks offer a chance to show their personality and create new, inspiring content that can further expose and promote themselves via social media.

The Sunday Times SS17 Collection Stories | Photography: Jason Evans | Styling: Siobhan Lyons

Top tips

It is all in the pre-planning… Whether the budgets are sky high or really minimal – the same principles apply. Working out what budget you have FIRST will enable you to see what is possible and how best you can achieve it. Things to consider within the budget are the studio/location costs, model and entire team – art director, make-up artists, stylists etc.


Casting is just as important as the clothes! If you don’t have the right model – forget it! The model is the muse – it’s the girl or guy that your customer will associate with. In fact, there’s a lot to do with psychology in these things, believe me! The model not only needs to be a good ‘fit’ for the brand but, because most lookbooks want an editorial feel, she needs to be a character, someone with great energy and confidence, someone professional who wants to participate. The team is important too – picking a photographer, stylist, hair, make up and set (if necessary) that can work together harmoniously and professionally is vital. There is nothing better than working with your friends and being creative at the same time.


It’s not just about putting the looks together but also assisting with the creative direction and keeping the outfits consistent. I always prefer to do a fitting beforehand – just in case. Normally you are always against the clock. There is a lot to do in one day and there might be a problem – if something doesn’t fit very well or something we thought was amazing isn’t quite so, it needs to be reworked. Organisation is important so having things laid out and hung up in the right order and kept neat and tidy, labelled beforehand makes the shoot day run flawlessly. All clothes need to be ‘prepped’ – steamed or ironed – so that they look pristine for the camera. No creases, wrinkles or tags, no stickers on the shoes!

Topshop AW13 Lookbook | Photography: Tung Walsh | Styling: Siobhan Lyons


Sometimes the stylist will need to source extra accessories or additional pieces for the day. I think I can group the clothes into stories or categories and also work with the colour. Perhaps, it is a repeated pop or accent of a certain colour or a fabric that ties the whole lookbook together. Shoes are important too – depending on what the job is or how many looks there are. I generally like to keep the shoes the same for continuity and consistency so that it looks more like a uniform.

Siobhan Lyons East London-based fashion stylist with an experience working for titles such as Sunday Times Style, ELLE, i-D, Twin or Wonderland. Siobhan is a part-time lecturer at Middlesex University and mentors Styling Students at the Conde Nast College of Fashion. In her editorials and commercial works, she refers to subcultures and youth. British style is something she is proud to be immersed in.

Follow Siobhan here.

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