Issue 63
Tess Yopp
Playing Fashion goes color crazy with London-based
stylist and streetstyle star Tess Yopp, who colors up our streets
as well as magazines with advertisements and editorials with flying colors.
“The second I talk about colors, I go crazy,” enthuses Tess Yopp, who was wearing a blue Dries Van Noten coat and a white and pink striped shirt on the day we met. Being “very sensitive to colors”, the London-based stylist naturally excels in comely color combinations creating editorials and advertisements for clients, such as TopShop, i-D, Tank, and Vogue Japan. Yet, it is not all about work. Personally, she stands out in an overcrowded fashion industry with another artistic aesthetics and fresh fashion decisions overwhelming onlookers. The tall and thin Londoner is often snapped by streetstyle photographers such as Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème during fashion week. Last season, her life was even documented by Femina China magazine. Despite her model-like appearance, she says matter of factly, “That’s the only thing I want to do: style.”

As we chatted away over soya lattes, we discovered that although she never fitted in growing up in Moscow and would even be physically poked at for wearing what she does on the street, she tells us there are times she is “really Russian”. For example: “I will never pick up a no number. I think it is a little weird when someone who doesn’t know you call you.” Her deep voice with a faint Russian accent carries actuality, confidence, and earnestness expressing thoughts on her mind directly and fully. It is bluntly this attitude that reveals her passion, talent and dedication beyond the childlike facade associated with playing with colors. Afterall, it is not just the colors that lend colors to her work, but her color scheme.

Here, Ms. Yopp talks to Playing Fashion about establishing herself in fashion by herself, her dreams of working for British Vogue one day and of course, her color wheel.

MY PARENTS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FASHION. We never have any fashion related anything at home. Maybe it comes from my art background. I always painted pictures with oils, acrylics, and pastels. At my art school, we just painted whatever we wanted. My teachers always said I have a good sense of color, like an impressionist with my brush strokes and colour coordination. That’s my earliest artistic memory, but now it is all mixed.

MY MUM TOLD ME she always dressed me quite differently to other children. I never cared about what I wore until I started snowboarding at 14 for five years. I was always hanging around with the guys and I started wearing guy’s clothes, like baggy jeans. Now, skateboarding is in fashion, but for me it is like a first connection to fashion. That’s why I still like the whole spirit and style of snowboarding and the oversized colourful clothing. I would love to continue to snowboard, but it’s expensive for your health to snowboard as a career, because like every other sport, you break all your bones and you’d have to retire at 26.

I NEVER REALLY FITTED IN RUSSIA SOMEHOW. Not any friend group. I was all by myself. I always wanted to see Europe, so I came to study at the London College of Fashion. I knew only Masha (Mel) in London. We started working together, growing together, becoming best friends and eventually starting Vrag magazine. That's how everyone always knew us as a pair. Now, we work with other people, but most of our projects are still together.

I ASSISTED ONLY THREE TIMES IN MY CAREER. Assisting American Harper’s Bazaar was quite an eye-opening experience. We shot the Rothschild family. It is just a completely different level of production and styling. Everything involves more people and responsibility. You have to know how to make people comfortable. It seems like to get into the publication, you really have to work for it.

MY WEBSITE WAS DONE WHEN I FIRST CAME to London. A friend of a friend did it for me in a day. I got a few commercial jobs because of the website with young teenage brands, like Lazy Oaf x Kickers. Since I started young, everyone keeps asking me to do really pretty girly shoots and they consider me basically as so. Now, I want to style expensively working with an interesting cast, good set design and themes. We changed our style to digital and I still want to keep my styling quite artistic, young and fresh, a bit crazy with layering.

I WOULD DEFINITELY LIKE TO WORK FOR BRITISH VOGUE! It is rebellious and has this craziness. I love Francesca Burns. She’s actually me, but a bit older. She has this vision. She can make very commercial work, but with a very young mindset. Don’t get me wrong. I love loads of different magazines, like Vogue Paris and Another Magazine. I like Interview Russia, because (Editor in Chief) Aliona Doletskaya actually has something to say. It was the first publication of its kind. She will always be the person who brought fashion to us.

IF YOU WANT TO BE COMMERCIALLY SUCCESSFUL, you have to have your own style but you also have to be quite versatile, so you can do everything your client wants. It always has to have a balance between real and fantasy! You respond to how Katie Schillingford, Katie England, and my friend Lotte Volkova style. They define the mix in styling, mixing expensive brands and young designers and vintage.

I AM QUITE PICKY WITH PHOTOGRAPHERS. I work mostly with Masha (Mel), and also with other photographers, like Lea Colombo. I really like Harley Weir but I haven’t worked with her. These are all young girls, photographers in their mid ‘20s. I find working with girls better. I worked with guys, I don’t think I quite respond to what they want. They can’t really translate what I want to say. With girls, I find it easier.

THE INDUSTRY IS A SMALL CIRCLE. If you want to work at the big publications then you have to know someone, otherwise they would never look at applications. It's only friends of friends. But I'm still trying. It’s all office politics and connections as well. I never had any friends (inside helping me). I did it by doing it.

I CAN WORK ON SUPER SHORT NOTICE. Once I did all the call ins for this shoot in three days and there was lots of trouble with timing and shipping, but I did it. It is stressful, but I can.

I CAN’T CALL MYSELF A BIG SHOPPER. I know big shoppers. They come from Asia. (Jokes and laughs) I’m like a gambling addict, who would spend their last few pennies on gambling. As much money as I have, I would spend it on clothes, then, I'll be skimmed for the rest of the month. That is the only thing I spend my money on.

I ALWAYS TRY TO BUY ONE GOOD EXPENSIVE ITEM I will wear for ages. There is no point in purchasing something you will throw away after two months. I like craziness but in a way that is French or Japanese. I like colorful fur or something with the texture of fur and I love sequins, like Ashish’s.

I CAN’T SAY I LOVE ONE DESIGNER. I like a mix of Miu Miu, Christopher Kane, J.W. Anderson and chic pieces I can buy at Paris vintage shops. I don't have much vintage, so it has to be something really interesting or really chic that would be “Wow!”. TopShop Unique is nice sometimes and I do love English designers. They are amazing. If I could wear something for the rest of my life, it would be Christopher Kane, Dior, this kind of brands. I do love dressing full on lady like sometimes.

IF I START TALKING ABOUT COLOR, I’LL NEVER STOP. My new color combination is glossy red with shiny silver, pink, and beige, but it also depends, for example which shade of pink or red. That’s why I almost have no black and whites in my portfolio. However, if it fits the theme, I don’t mind it. If it’s just simple black and white, that just doesn’t inspire me. It has to be something off normal, even just a small detail.

FASHION SUICIDE TO ME is ballerina shoes and orange. I absolutely can’t stand orange! You will never see me in orange. I don’t mind if it is one strip of color. If the whole piece is orange, no! My friend keeps an orange jumper in his closet and I was like “I didn’t even know you had an orange jumper.” He says, “I don’t wear orange when I see you, because I know you hate it so much”. There are so many color combinations I can’t stand, like orange and blue. That’s why I do styling.

SKINCARE IS PERSONAL. I can’t recommend for anybody else. Every skin is so different and the less product you use, the better. Most beauty editors say their skin gets worse when they try different products on their face. You have to simply stick to yours. Some people’s skin suits more organic product, other’s suits chemical peels. You have to find a balance. I can’t say all organic skincare products are good, because there are so many different oils, sometimes it overproduces oil on your skin. I always like Sisley. It always works for me, because it is quite delicate to the skin and my skin is quite sensitive.

A STYLIST WOULD NEVER BE ACKNOWLEDGED for what they do as much as actors or famous models. It is difficult to establish yourself and make people believe in you - the same as an artist. When I first started, I had no idea about the industry. I came here, I was photographed, but being photographed is not the point. I went to fashion week in my friend’s designer clothes because I wanted their designs to be seen, not myself to be seen. There’s people from the industry saying there’s this crazy kid going to shows to be photographed, who wants to get famous. I never did it to be famous. The designers were happy with the good response and that someone was wearing their designs.

IF I BELIEVE IN SOMEONE’S WORK, I will push it, wear it and shoot it. Now when I go to fashion week, I try not to think about it, I just wear what I like. It is the same as what I wear everyday, but a bit more dressed up. I just dressed up as a cowboy at my friend’s birthday party last weekend, just because I like dressing up. That’s always the point of it!

Photography by Phill Taylor; hair by Louis Ghewy / The Book Agency using Bumble & Bumble; make-up by Gina Blondell.

Opening Image: jacket by Rag & Bone; turtleneck by Balenciaga; dress by Topshop.

All pieces throughout the story - Tess's own.
Words by Carrie Lau

Tess’ wardrobe is full of colors and textures. Mix fur with sequins and don’t forget to bring the colors on. Try her new color combo: glossy red, silver, pink, and beige.