Episode 4: Emilia Wickstead
Emilia Wickstead’s entire career has been defined by strong women. The celebrated designer – our fourth guest on this season of the Incredible Women podcast – has built her eponymous luxury brand around these women, creating clothing that combines the refinement and romance of a bygone era with precision silhouettes and a modern sensibility.
The first strong woman in Wickstead’s life was her mother – also a fashion designer – and some of Wickstead’s earliest memories are of watching her in fittings with clients and building her business from a small studio at their family home. Wickstead’s design schooling had already begun.
A move from New Zealand to Milan when Wickstead was 15 turned out to be pivotal, and it was in and around the Italian fashion capital that the teenager discovered a whole new world of possibilities: “I just couldn’t believe my eyes – I was in heaven,” she says.
Encouraged by her teachers, Wickstead went on to study fashion design and marketing at Central Saint Martins in London with dreams of one day launching her own brand. She was relentless – and naïve, she now says – in her ambitions, but Wickstead’s vision was always to build a business with women at its heart. The designer saw clients one-on-one for seven years before eventually opening her store in 2008. Fifteen years later, the brand now encompasses bridal and homeware, as well as offering made-to-order services from Wickstead’s west London atelier.
Listen in as Wickstead talks to content director Alice Casely-Hayford about being passionate about her purpose, making mistakes along the way, and why there’s a Wickstead woman in all of us.
Read highlights from Wickstead’s podcast episode below…
[On her mother] “Ultimately, she’s forever inspiring me; I’m always asking her questions. You know, she’s got this real curiosity; she’s very forward-thinking.”
“[The Wickstead woman] is bold and thinking and fashion-forward. She loves to play on tradition and heritage, but she has this real modern approach to her…”
“I get most excited when I spontaneously see women in the world wearing Emilia Wickstead. Those are my proudest moments. I remember going into a coat check once and three women were getting their coats, and they were all Emilia. God, I felt like I’d made it.”
“I just feel that, as a woman, I love to empower other women to talk about women’s journeys, their stories, photograph them in an inspiring and exciting way…”
Episode 3: Kate Bailey
As the senior curator of theater and performance at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, our next guest, Kate Bailey, is a creative force who is well versed in pulling together extraordinary visual and thematic feasts. Her latest masterpiece is the V&A’s current major exhibition, DIVA, a spectacular celebration of some of the most iconic performers of all time, alongside a reckoning with and redefining of the term ‘diva’.
But what exactly does a curator do, and where does one even start in the research process? Bailey sees the job of curating as the ultimate act of editing – starting at the very bottom of a huge pyramid of information, and then honing it down to its essence – but it’s the words ‘passion’, ‘obsession’ and ‘immersion’ that strike you as she speaks about her commitment to the role.
The DIVA exhibition is based on an idea that has been in Bailey’s head since 2015 and brings together stars from Joan Crawford to Shirley Bassey; Mae West to Rihanna. It charts what it has meant to be a diva over a period of more than a century, examining the social and political movements that they have driven, challenging the negativity around the term, and reclaiming its power for a new generation.
Listen in as Bailey talks to fashion director Kay Barron about the process of ‘selling’ an exhibition idea, the extraordinary process of sourcing rare objects, and why she finds the concept of the diva so fascinating.
Read highlights from Bailey’s podcast episode below…
“I think I’m perhaps a little bit unusual as a curator in that I start with thinking about the stories and feelings and emotions, and what you want people to feel and what you want people to take away.”
“With DIVA, it was about a reclaiming and a retelling of a story. But also, you know that if you get the story and the music and the objects right, it could be such a powerful, inspiring and emotional narrative.”
“I always think that, as a curator, you’re a sort of pivot between the past, the present and the future… At the same time, your space in the present is to engage with that past, but take it very much to the future, which is also about thinking what visitors want to know about.”
As a company dedicated to empowering and celebrating Incredible Women, NET-A-PORTER is proud to partner with the V&A in supporting the DIVA exhibition. DIVA is on now until April 7 at the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London
Episode 2: Adwoa Aboah
Joining us for our second episode of Vision and Voice is Adwoa Aboah, the Gurls Talk founder, actor, model, and mental health advocate. These days, Aboah has found global success across these myriad disciplines, but her journey to this point hasn’t been straightforward.
In her formative years, Aboah struggled with addiction and her mental health and, while she was signed as a model aged 16, she grappled with her identity, having to overcome self-doubt. In 2015, after sharing candidly about her struggles, she founded Gurls Talk, a non-profit, community-led organization that promotes the mental health and wellbeing of adolescent girls and young women. The goal is to create safe spaces – both on and offline – where young women feel safe, seen and heard, and the support now extends to a podcast of Aboah’s own.
Despite Aboah’s intense schedule – between her committed activism and being one of the world’s most in-demand models – she has still found time to pursue her love of acting, and she appears as steely drug dealer Jaq’s love interest Becks in the last two seasons of Netflix’s smash-hit show Top Boy.
Listen in as Aboah talks to content director Alice Casely-Hayford about the dangers of ego, chasing joy, and turning shame into an opportunity to share and heal.
Read highlights from Aboah’s podcast episode below…
“I don’t know if I could have done the modeling the way I’ve done it if I hadn’t had something like Gurls Talk as the backbone of my existence… like, I’ve always got something bigger. And it always felt like Gurls Talk was that thing.”
“We know mental health is not a linear journey or experience. I do all that work every single day. I got sober when I was 22. I spent my twenties sober amongst people who weren’t sober. I have to think and live and breathe my moods every single day.”
“Today, nothing gets me more hyped than getting some feedback from some casting director or producer and showing them that I’m actually focused and putting the work in…”
Episode 1: Hari Nef
We kick off our seventh season of the Incredible Women podcast, Vision and Voice, by speaking with the actor, model and writer Hari Nef. While Nef doesn’t like to think of herself as a pioneer – putting her wealth of accomplishments down to being “at the right place at the right time” – she is an undeniably inspiring force across the industries she occupies.
She has made strides in the fashion world – Nef was the first openly transgender model to receive a worldwide modeling contract – but acting was always the dream. She graduated from Columbia University in 2015 with a degree in theater. Nef says she “totally lucked out” by being offered a role in the second series of the critically acclaimed Transparent, but numerous parts in film, theater and TV followed, including a star turn as ‘Rabbi Jen’ in the first series of the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That…, and a recurring part as journalist Talia in the recent controversial HBO drama The Idol.
However, it’s her most recent role – in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie – that has brought more mainstream attention to her talents. Playing ‘Dr. Barbie’, Nef’s doll specializes in medical and DJ skills (not to mention her trailer-stealing repulsion at the sight of flat feet), and making the movie turned out to be the experience she dreamed it would be.
Listen in as Nef talks to NET-A-PORTER fashion director Kay Barron about the privilege of platform, how she secured her role in Barbie, and the desire to be known as a great actor, rather than a pioneer.
Read highlights from Nef’s podcast episode below…
“I don’t think of myself kind of isolated as a pioneer. I think of myself as part of a chain that continues. And the people who come after you, they open more doors for you.”
“You know, I just felt significantly like I had something unique to contribute to this film [Barbie], being who and how I was…”
“I just had a feeling, especially with Greta at the helm, that we were not going to shy away from these trickier parts of the Barbie legacy and of the doll legacy.”
“Greta was always, like, holding in her laughter and, as soon as ‘cut’ was yelled, like, Greta’s laugh! There was nothing like that laugh to make you feel like you did a good job.”
“You can’t have your whole creative output be based on getting cast in things or picked for things. So, whenever there’s no acting work, I just go back to the typewriter.”
Vision and Voice
Returning for its seventh season, NET-A-PORTER’s Incredible Women podcast celebrates women who inspire us with their commitment to pushing for positive change; women who are using their platforms, talents and expertise to create space for others, and who are redefining the future with their drive and innovative ideas.
This season is titled Vision and Voice, and each episode is an intimate, thought-provoking conversation with a lineup that includes multi-hyphenate Hari Nef, who has recently appeared in Barbie and The Idol; model-turned-actor Adwoa Aboah, who founded the mental-health organization Gurls Talk and now stars in Top Boy; and climate activist, journalist and podcast host Sophia Li.
Hosted by NET-A-PORTER’s content director Alice Casely-Hayford and fashion director Kay Barron, this season will tap into the minds and lives of these phenomenal women, whose creative visions and inspiring voices make them forces to be reckoned with.
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