Hanging Out With... Ben Schofield
Originally from Manchester, GQ Style’s fashion editor Ben Schofield moved to London aged 18 where he cut his teeth assisting superstylists Alister Mackie, Katy England and Nicola Formichetti during the iconic Lady Gaga years. As friendly as he is fashionable, it’s unsurprising we chose Ben to model our latest bucket hat drop. We join him for a stroll around his local park in north London, where he shows us how to wear a bucket hat in a way that’s more fashion week than festival chic.
Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I was born in Oldham just outside Manchester but grew up between there and a really small town in Lincolnshire.
Did you study?
I did, but I didn’t finish. I studied English literature at Queen Mary University and then started working and decided not to go back.
What was your first job?
My first job was working with Anna Trevelyan and with Nicola Formichetti right in the period of Lady Gaga doing the Born This Way album.
Wow – baptism by fire!
Yes! It was really good fun. I started there and I was only meant to do a couple of weeks and then ended up staying for nearly two years.
Were you always really into fashion?
Yes, very much so. I grew up in a place where it wasn’t really something that you thought you’d ever be able to do. Especially with all the TV shows when we were growing up – you had The Rachel Zoe Project and all those shows. That kind of thing made it look really inaccessible.
What was your first role?
I went from working with Anna and Nicola to then assisting Alister Mackie and Katy England who shared a studio. Then I worked as Alister’s assistant for about two and a half years at Another Man. I then went and became the fashion assistant at GQ Style and after that I went back as junior fashion editor at Another Man, and then back to GQ Style.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment we’re working on the autumn/winter issue for September, so I started shooting last week. Then shows as well - I’ve got Robyn Lynch’s show for Fashion East and then I’m working on Daniel Fletcher’s new collection too.
Let’s talk about bucket hats. They’re synonymous with music culture in the UK – what kind of music do you like?
I’m a pop music person, shockingly! (laughs) I’m either pop music or really, really devvoed sad songs.
Do you go to many festivals?
I’m not really a festival person. I’d love to go to Glastonbury, but we never can because it’s always during men’s fashion weeks.
What’s on your agenda for fashion week?
So right after this I’m going to start looks for one of the shows I’m working on, and it will be that for the whole of London – doing fittings etc. I don’t really ever get to go to the shows in London because I’m working on stuff. We have the GQ party with Browns, but other than that it’s all work.
What are the things you love about fashion week?
Doing shows is my favourite thing to do in my job - I love it to bits. I’m the happiest at fashion week when I’m on my hands and knees with a lint roller backstage.
What is it about the shows that you love so much?
I think it’s the adrenaline and all that prep… bringing a whole vision together for a designer… the fact that it pinnacles down all this work into a minute and a half.
As a stylist, you obviously have a keen sense of your own style. Can you talk a bit about how this developed? Did you have anyone you particularly looked up to style-wise?
I would say all the people that I’ve worked for have really shaped me, not necessarily MY personal style but in terms of having a strong sense of yourself and the way you look and dress.
How has your style evolved?
It’s got less bonkers. When I was a kid, we would wear all the crazy things – go out with your belly out and colouring in your eyebrows. But it’s kind of settled down into a muted neutral vibe.
Do you ever have days where you just feel crazy and avant-garde?
Yes, I always have those days! Then you look in the mirror and you’re like: “No… not doing that anymore!” And then sometimes you do, and you feel like a plonker on the tube, but then you get to where you’re going and think: “I’m so glad I did this!”
What are some key pieces you currently have your eye on?
I’m all about a miniature bag.
As mini as Jacquemus?
Not as mini as Jacquemus – phone and cigarette size. There’s a really good Prada one from Browns that I’ve got my eye on.
What are some hacks for tackling trends you might not usually wear?
I think just confidence. As long as you feel good in what you’re wearing I don’t think it matters if it’s not something you normally wear. Just make it your own. I sound like Louis Walsh… (laughs)
You once modelled for Tim Walker. How was that experience?
It was amazing. It was styled by Katy England and it was a shoot based on Aubrey Beardsley. I got a message from Samuel Ellis who was casting it on Instagram, so I went over and met Tim – and two days later we were on set. It was pretty special.
In terms of a location shoot – where would you go if budget and logistics weren’t an issue?
Svalbard. It’s in the Arctic circle and it looks INCREDIBLE. You can only get there by boat, so you have to fly right to the top of Finland or Norway. It’s full of polar bears and you’ve got the Northern Lights overhead. It’s where Lyra goes in that Philip Pullman book Northern Lights, which is one of my all-time favourite books ever.
What would someone be most surprised to learn about you?
Maybe that I’m actually quite shy!
Photography by Max Barnett
Interview by Georgia Graham
Styling by Sally Bottomley