Always in All-Black: Lily Gatins.

Jardin des Tuileries, Paris.

When I first started Lord Ashbury a couple of years ago, I would make an effort not to photograph people wearing all black. I was convinced that going all-black was too safe, and in during the high point of the day it was hard to photograph in an appealing way. Then I met Lily Gatins at my second New York Fashion Week and she blew me away with her all-black textures and especially how it fully encapsulated her personal style and approach to fashion. Soon after I’d affectionately call her “my favourite stealth”—there aren’t a lot of people who can do black quite this way.

Personally, I know Lily Gatins on the friendly side of the acquaintance fence, some of her good friends are my favourite people at fashion week. She’s multicultural, multiethnic, and possesses an extremely keen sartorial element; if you ask her why she prefers to wear all black she will actually give you an answer. Photographers love shooting her. In public, she doesn’t say much, and moves through crowds with a slow, almost ominous pace, like a stingray ruling over the ocean floor. She’s better at being mysterious than many celebrities who come off silly this way—with Lily you want to know more about her.

When I was at Paris Fashion Week earlier this year a mutual friend of ours had an exhibition party one night that we both attended and more or less ended up in the same small circle. Seeing Lily there was interesting, because it was the first time I’d ever seen her in clothes that were more street-ready. She was there, having a good time like a normal person would—and yet, while I know that she is and always has been a normal person, just like you and me!—I was somehow still surprised to see that she was in fact that (which, is even more bizarre given that we had tea after a show last season! how easy it is to forget sometimes). Perhaps I was awestruck.  . . . Maybe it was because it was the first time I’d seen her smile in the two years that I’ve known her. Maybe I just needed to be reminded. The very next day, I took this photo. Lily was on her normal stride, my favourite stealth, eyes down and slipping away from Tuileries just before too many photographers noticed and could make her stop and pose. “Hello!” “Hey.” Just like it always was. Mystery always served best in black.

Wearing: Cunnington & Sanderson

See more looks from Lily Gatins here.

lily gatins