To say there’s more than meets the eye to Stacey Duguid is somewhat of an understatement. The seasoned fashion editor and magazine writer is now the Fashion Editorial Director at Harrods, where e-commerce, digital content and styling merge to create the perfect modern-day fashion publishing role.
After climbing the fashion ranks at the likes of Harvey Nichols, Prada and Giorgio Armani, and then establishing her magazine career at ELLE for years, Stacey went freelance to allow for more flexibility while caring for her two small children, a move that both cemented her love of publishing and fashion but also confirmed that working in an office environment with a team was more her style…
“I worked from home for five years after leaving ELLE in 2013. I loved being around for our children when they were little, taking them on trips and playing in sandpits, but I also hated having to go back to my desk once I’d put them to bed. I loved being around to pick them up from nursery and school, but no-one tells you when you’re freelance you might need to work on a holiday. Everything has its ups and downs, and things change, I worked at ELLE for a decade and was ready to leave in the end, but I just hadn’t prepared myself for a career at home with two babies in the house. A maternity cover role came up at Net-A-Porter and given how much I’d missed the camaraderie of working in an office full of like-minded creatives, I decided to do it for a year until I figured things out. A year in an office proved I could no longer stand talking to the dog at home. Time to stop lingering around coffee baristas trying to force them to chat to me, time to get a full-time job, sister!”
When we say there’s more than meets the eye to Stacey, we really mean it. Here in our gorgeous Tale shoot in London recently, we delve deeper into Stacey’s career achievements, hear her path to love, marriage and children, discuss the highs and lows of social media, and discover how she navigates life around her sixth sense, the ability to hear voices and connect with spirits…
You’re the Fashion Editorial Director at Harrods, can you tell us exactly what this means day to day? Being a fashion editor is often so hard to describe to anyone outside of the fashion industry, would you agree?
When I joined Harrods back in October 2018, I had no idea what to expect. Harrods had never had a Fashion Editorial Director before and with that, my job title was new in the business and there were no handover notes to gaze at. I just had to get on with it. On the first day, I sat at my desk and thought, ‘tackle one bit at a time.’ I saw the whole picture of the task ahead, which was to reimagine the fashion imagery for menswear, womenswear and childrenswear across all publishing platforms, and there was no way everything could be done at once. So, I started with the magazine, commissioning incredible photographers and stylists I’ve worked with over the years.
Overseeing fashion creative content that plays out across the Harrods’ platforms, I also oversee E-commerce styling and we are about to re-platform with FarFetch, so that’s super exciting. I have a team of in-house stylists, who create fashion shoots across dot com, social media and all the men’s, women’s and children’s shoots across our portfolio of men’s and women’s magazines. I also host monthly talks in-store, meet regularly with our buying teams and work across new brand launches and in-store activations. When I say no two days are ever the same, I really mean it. It’s such an exciting place to work. Harrods is a heritage brand and the iconic store is brimming with so many stories to be told. We’re moving towards the future in a way that is respectful and elegant but also fast and dynamic. I’m learning something new every day.
You worked at ELLE magazine for years before the birth of your daughter, Martha. What do you remember about this time working at the height of the magazine-era, and when did you notice the industry was changing?
I loved working at ELLE – the team was amazing and Anne Marie Curtis, the then fashion director who later went on to be editor, is still a good friend. As is Lorraine Candy, the editor at the time, who put together this crack team of women who, in my opinion, produced one of the most entertaining and joyful fashion magazines out there. One of my favourite parts of that job was writing my column, Mademoiselle, Confessions of an ELLE Girl. I had so much fun writing it. She was my alter-ego, my better dressed slightly richer self, who had great handbags and super swanky dresses. I think the reason the Mademoiselle character was so popular is she made fashion relatable – this is all pre-blogs and Instagram, remember. She was also wild and a bit daft, dated all the wrong guys and spent far too much money on shoes. We’ve all been there…
You launched your own blog and fashion consultancy business after ELLE, was working for yourself really the dream that so many women envision once kids come along?
I worked from home for five years after leaving ELLE in 2013. I loved being around for our children when they were little, taking them on trips and playing in sandpits, but I also hated having to go back to my desk once I’d put them to bed. I loved being around to pick them up from nursery and school, but no-one tells you when you’re freelance you might need to work on a holiday. Everything has its ups and downs, and things change, I worked at ELLE for a decade and was ready to leave in the end, but I just hadn’t prepared myself for a career at home with two babies in the house. A maternity cover role came up at Net-A-Porter and given how much I’d missed the camaraderie of working in an office full of like-minded creatives, I decided to do it for a year until I figured things out. A year in an office proved I could no longer stand talking to the dog at home. Time to stop lingering around coffee baristas trying to force them to chat to me, time to get a full-time job, sister!
What do you love most about your role at Harrods right now? It seems to combine all the right things - fashion styling, writing, digital content…
This role is as challenging as it is creative and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I learn something new every day – digital, marketing, digital marketing! I even know what BAU stands for (business as usual, in case you were wondering!) But what’s most inspiring, is taking an already established brand and pushing the creative fashion vision somewhere new. Working with a truly talented in-house team, I also love commissioning freelance stylists and photographers and seeing the work they produce is just mind-blowing. I always used to think I worked at ELLE during the heyday of print, and yes, print was king back in 2009. But we live in a golden age of storytelling where retail publications and platforms can be as interesting and culturally relevant as a newsstand product. Print is not dead, as Harrods magazine proves and there are so many more ways to tell a story these days. (I’m a big fan of an extended Instagram caption, for example).
You met your now-husband Matt online and soon after welcomed your son Nathaniel and daughter Martha. What was it like including and involving them in your recent wedding last year? Did they understand the occasion and celebration?
To be honest, we kept their involvement to a minimum. They were invited to the registry office in the morning after which we sent them packing with their cousins in a taxi whilst the adults had a riot of a lunch. The speeches are our wedding were outrageous. Mum of the year? It was for their own safety. What a blast. I never wanted a big white wedding and shocked myself by the fact I suddenly wanted to wear a white dress. I loved my Preen frock. It had a vintage feel to it. I’d wear it again (I mean out, I’m not suggesting I want to get re-married!)
You’ve spoken publicly about your sixth sense and ability to hear voices, how does this impact your life day to day? Can you ever switch off from the spirits?
Everyone has a sixth sense. The gut instinct of knowing the right thing to do, that feeling of warmth that inexplicably buzzes through the body, the intuition of knowing something is wrong, feeling the room when there are good vibes and bad. We all connect to spirit, to something we can’t explain, to something bigger than us. I choose to listen, rather than ignore. I believe because I’ve seen and heard too much from ‘them’ not to. It’s been happening since I was a child.
Are the voices ever frightening to you?
Only when I say something to someone I couldn’t possibly know. Witnessing their shock at the situation can be frightening.
Do you feel a sense of responsibility as an “accidental psychic”? Have you ever had to deliver someone a message that you didn’t want to?
I don’t get bad messages, only helpful ones. Often focused around fertility. It’s very odd
Do your kids know or understand of your communication with spirits? Do you know if they carry a similar sixth sense yet?
They do, and we talk about spirituality, but they are too little to understand. I’m vegetarian and yet I cook meat for them, belief is the same thing – they can make up their own minds when they are old enough. I am hugely spiritual, as are they, but if one day they start to believe in organized religion, so be it. I’d never force my opinion on anyone.
How do you approach buying each season now - do you have a shopping plan? You seem to mix high and low dressing so seamlessly, is there a system in place to keep on top of trends without overspending?
I’m not a slave to trends anymore and tend to wear the same labels over and over again. Preen dresses, ACNE tailoring, J Brand jeans, McQueen trousers, Stine Goya for the weekend, Rejina Pyo for going out, Celine boots, equipment shirts. I’m more obsessed with styling details picked up from poring over street style shots of my favourite editors at fashion week. And from sitting alongside them at the shows.
What are some of your favourite online fashion brands to buy for yourself and your kids?
I buy kidswear from Arket – I love the smart but easy style of the clothes from Arket, it’s always a winner, especially for boys. Now I work at Harrods, I tend to shop in-store. If I have a break between meetings, I walk around the shop, asking the staff what’s hot etc (it helps me figure out what imagery is working on our Instagram feed and what isn’t). Then I earmark the pieces I like. I always give myself a 24-hour breather before purchasing. Just to make sure I really “need” it. (Currently, have a pair of white Isabel Marant shoes on hold).
Do you have any tried and tested mum hacks that make getting out the door a little easier each morning?
I have a kids banking app called Go Henry. I put the kids’ pocket money into it on a weekly basis and it allows you to top up for tasks undertaken. My son is saving up for a Nintendo Switch at the moment and is doing really well considering he gets £3 per week pocket money. The thought of earning an extra pound towards his goal is enough to make him clear his dishes and get dressed. Amazing…
What is your favourite part of motherhood?
Getting to know my children as they grow up and become their own people with their own opinions feels like such a privilege. It’s an honour to be part of their lives. Not everyone gets to go on this journey, I realise that, especially given I had them in my late thirties.
How do you handle the more stressful parts of motherhood?
A small glass of wine helps alleviate level 7 stress (10 being the worst). When I reach level 10, I tend to leave the house and sit in the car. I hate shouting; it makes me feel wretched, them scared and it gets us absolutely nowhere. So rather than shouting, I sit in the car for a minute to calm down. Weird, but it works. I also do a 30-minute HIIT class at 6.30am most mornings. It’s a total stress buster.
Social media is often a highlight reel void of reality, particularly when children and fashion are involved, but you seem to depict the good, the bad and the hilarious at all times. Is this a conscious decision to keep things real?
I was out at an event the other night, and a guy came up to me and told me how much he appreciated my post at Christmas about loneliness and how dreadful Christmas can be. I am incapable of doing things without humour and feeling, so the idea of posting a perfectly curated version of my life is alien to me. I do sometimes wonder if I’ve gone too far. Overshared, said too much, gone overboard. When I joined Harrods, I archived some riskier posts, like the one where I peed all over the arm of my jumpsuit during my first month at Harrods. I had to go back to my desk wearing a jumpsuit drenched in wee. I archived that post a week later, but then the head of content told me she loved it and it made me think, we are all human, no matter what we do or who we work for. I love the random human connection. Instagram can be good for that, but it’s better to see friends as often as you can. Social media can give us a fake sense of closeness, which is why I came off Facebook – social media is no replacement for a hug and a chat with an old pal. I turn off my phone at 8 pm.
What is your relationship with social media like - do you impose any scrolling bans or give yourself digital detoxes when necessary?
8 pm curfew, no work emails at the weekend unless there’s a shoot happening, no scrolling before 9 am.
Life with kids and work is often hectic, what keeps you sane?
Exercise, friends, my husband, my Monday night painting course. Not always in that order.
What is your definition of self-care and how do you make time for it?
My husband works in mental health, and so I’m acutely aware that for some, self-care is as basic as being able to get out of bed and have a shower once a week. For others, it’s a regular manicure or a massage and I get that. But for me self-care is facing the things I fear the most – tax bills, unpaid bills, checking bank accounts, monitoring credit card spend. There is nothing worse than having The Fear. The Fear makes me unstable, so I face it every day.
Stacey's Little List of Loves...
- Lost Dog by Kate Spicer. It’s a brilliant love story about a mid-life woman losing her dog. Please ignore the part where she calls me a “fashion monster”. I did say that about her UGGS though. It was late. What can I say.
- Open Up – The power of talking about money by Alex Holder. Because talking about money is a can of worms worth opening.
- Abstract painting course at Hampstead School of Art. My teacher is an art therapist and I find her incredibly soothing to be around
- The science of Happiness podcast – perfect for the morning
- Recode Decode podcast – in particular, Scott Galloway on love, Chipotle, and the other forms of happiness.
- The Northumberland Coast. We go once a year. It’s cold, but there is no one around.
- And speaking of no one around, I recently went to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and have never seen anything quite like it. It’s bucket list territory!
- How to Own The Room by Viv Groskrop. Read it from cover to cover on a flight recently. If you fear public speaking, this book is for you.
- Harrods’ Wellness Clinic is incredible. It’s there I found out about Louise Parker, the health and fitness specialist. I just bought her book, The 6 Week Programme and plan to do the exercise from home.
- I recently had three sessions of EMSculpt at the Wellness Clinic. A small handheld machine forces muscles to contract via electromagnetic waves – I chose to have it across my stomach, but you can do the buttocks and thighs too. My stomach was definitely more toned after three sessions, especially when combined with my morning HITT class.