This article first appeared on Melting Butter on February 17 2016. Image by Olivia Rose.
It’s 9am on a Monday morning when I call Lynette Nylander in London. She’s been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and is getting ready for work, styling an outfit around a new Vetements jacket. She’s the deputy editor of i-D, the seminal British magazine that has been at the forefront of fashion, art, music and contemporary culture since it launched in 1980. So she is at the centre of all things creative coming out of London and beyond. Kind enough to talk to Melting Butter, Lynette chatted to us about her love of fashion and her pride in calling London home.
Lisa Cugnetto: I read that when you were a kid i-D was part of what inspired you to work in fashion. How’s it feel to now be its deputy editor?
Lynette Nylander: It’s really rather incredible, I guess. Ten years ago I was sitting in a classroom and I remember being really creative and having all this energy – but I didn’t know that I wanted to be a fashion editor. That wasn’t part of the plan. I knew I wanted to work in fashion, but I knew so little about the industry and how it worked that I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
So for all these years later to work at a magazine that I really, really respect and I remember loving so much – because I think it represented me in a way, it had something to do with my life – is incredible. I don’t think it’s ever going to be something that I am too cool to say, ‘I don’t really care’ because I do care, I think it’s brilliant. I love the magazine.
LC: What is it that you love most about fashion?
LN: People say that fashion is not democratic, they’re right. There’s a lot of injustice and there’s lots of things that are really warped and silly about the system, but at the same time fashion can be one of the most democratic things on the planet, because it is completely self-defined.
Obviously, there are things that are ‘in fashion’ and there are things that are trends, but if you like something that’s your fashion. That’s your way of interpreting yourself and the world around you, and giving people a sense of who you are before they’ve even had a chance to speak to you. I adore that. I think it is so exciting. I see people wearing clothes − and it could be completely different to how I wear clothes − but I love seeing it.
Then part of it is I am really interested in why people wear the things that they do –cultural signifiers, the social economic issues and messages tied up in clothing and fabric. Everyone has to get dressed in the morning, I say it all the time. My dad doesn’t understand how I work in fashion, he says: ‘I don’t understand this world and what you do.’ I say to him, ‘When you wear your uniform that is your fashion. That’s you interpreting yourself as you get dressed in the morning. It’s what you like. Just because it doesn’t cost ‘x’ amount of money or isn’t a designer label doesn’t mean anything.’ I think no one is exempt from fashion.
LC: Is there anyone or anything exciting or inspiring you in fashion at the moment?
Yeah, you’ve caught me on my ‘how important are young designers?’ kick. I really want people when they are thinking of buying something new to buy less, but buy better. That’s something that Vivienne Westwood says a lot but it is really true, I know I have made an active decision to do that.
I would also love to see people getting into the mindset of, say, ‘I need a new jacket. I need a new skirt’, whatever it is and thinking, ‘Okay, who can I support?’ Just having more of a responsibility. I think we have so much amazing design talent in London. I guess I am sensitive to it because I work where I work but some of these people – some are my age, some are younger – are working tooth and nail, they have their own businesses so they can put their work and messages out. It’s so important these young designers are supported.
LC: So many people have their own experiences or ideas of London. What is yours? How would you describe your London?
LN: It’s home. London is one of the best cities on the planet. It has this incredible energy that courses through its veins. I think at its heart it has this mix of incredible people, from incredible walks of life. I am a creative, a lot of my friends are creative, and I hang around creative scenes and I think the most exciting, boundary-pushing stuff that people are talking about – those people, those things, that content – is being born in London. There are so many people moving here now it is becoming such an important part of the conversation.
I love it because when you walk around it has an actual culture and history that you can feel with every step. Look up at the buildings; everything has history, a time, a place. I adore it. I am lucky I get to travel a lot and when I touch down, I automatically feel my blood pressure come down. I am back in my place where everything makes sense and I can get a decent cup of tea.
LC: What part of London do you call home and what do you enjoy about it?
LN: I live in Bloomsbury in an old brick building and I have the British Library on one end and the British Museum on the other end. I really wanted to live here because I like the history of it. I liked that all the best writers worked here and lived here. Obviously I write about fashion but to live where great literary figures lived makes you feel part of something.
Bloomsbury is one of the only places in London that’s still independent, that’s important to me. When I was a kid, chains weren’t really a part of my vocabulary. We had to go to the supermarket – but you always do – but you bought your meat from the butcher, you brought your vegetables from the greengrocer, you brought your fish from the fishmonger. And of course we are seeing that die out at rapid speed because it is so expensive to have your own specialty store. Bloomsbury is one of the only few places that still does have things like that. I know my dry cleaner, I know the guy at the Turkish café, I know the Chinese restaurant around the corner. I love that feeling of knowing people in your area.
LC: Outside of London, do you have a favourite place in the world to visit and why?
LN: I love New York. I think if I had to live in another major city it would be New York. I do see that as much as I love London, maybe my work or something in my life, bringing me to New York.
I love South Africa. I was lucky enough to go there as a kid and it has always stayed in my heart, I really want to go back. I had the most incredible trip. It was just an amazing country. A sad history, which was prevalent, but I just saw the beauty in it all and it was amazing.
I also just got back from Mexico. The people there are so incredibly nice. Tulum is just beautiful. I went at Christmas and that was my second time.
Visit i-D here: http://i-d.vice.com/
LYNETTE NYLANDER’S LONDON
To drink coffee:
Monmouth Coffee at Borough Market
2 Park St, London SE1 9AB
Dover Street Market
17-18 Dover Street, London W1S 4LT, UK
To people watch and think:
Outside table at Maison Bertaux
28 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 5DQ
Share drinks with friends:
76 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, N16 7XB
The 10 Cases
16 Endell Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BD
51 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NB
Milroy’s of Soho (I LOVE whiskey)
3 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4NX
Joy King Lau in Chinatown (for dim sum)
3 Leicester Street, London, WC2H 7BL
86-90 Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 3LZ
Coya (Without a doubt!)
118 Picadilly Street, Mayfair, W1J 7NW
Bank side, London, SE1 9TG
The Gagosian Gallery,
6-24 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JD
& 17-19 Davies Street, London W1K 3DE
The Wellcome Collection
183 Euston Rd, London, NW1 2BE