In the annexes of fashion’s halls, the name Kate Phelan has reverberated for decades as a distinctive power player within the London fashion scene. As one of Britain’s most acclaimed stylists, the former creative director at Topshop and British Vogue contributing fashion editor has had a career reflective of her passion for fashion image-making while relatively staying out of the limelight. The Exeter native embarked on a fateful voyage to London in the mid-’80s, enrolling at the revered Central Saint Martins. From that point, the creative seed had been planted, laying the foundation of what would soon pave the way to a series of powerful editorials with legendary photographers at top books.
At the nucleus of Phelan’s journey lies an enduring alignment with British Vogue, a romance kindled under the wing of former editor Sarajane Hoare, who hired Phelan in 1987 as a fashion assistant, where she blossomed and subsequently dropped out of uni. After a stint at Marie Claire, she was beckoned back to Vogue’s embrace. In the ensuing 18 years as co-fashion director at British Vogue (she shared with Lucinda Chambers), she transformed the glossy pages into a canvas of artistry, collaborating with Paolo Roversi, Tim Walker, Corinne Day, and Nick Knight to craft visuals that transcended mere fashion spreads. In a career marked by striking evolution, Phelan’s departure from editorial in 2011 to helm Topshop as creative director seemed a fearless progression, a testament to her mutable, clairvoyant nature at foreseeing the sartorial, fast fashion zeitgeist. Her journey came full circle in 2017 when she left the retail juggernaut to return to British Vogue for a senior contributing fashion editor role. Directed by Kloss Films, Phelan gives Models.com a rare, intimate view into her remarkable journey, favorite muses and collaborators, and letting the work speak for itself.