Violet in Shirtaporter top; Grandmother's skirt;
Lulu Guinness socks; Loeffler Randall oxfords.
Fashion & Film Stylist. Journalist.
She is both enchanting and audacious. Violet Naylor-Leyland has fun with fashion, while having serious credentials as a top stylist in London. She started her career assisting Isabella Blow, the legendary Fashion Editor of Tatler, who recognized her talent early on. As a journalist, Violet is the former London correspondent for Vanity Fair and today, continues to write features on style and etiquette for Tatler, among other publications.
As a married mother of two, Violet finds absolute tranquility in Kenya, where her husband hails from, no doubt channeling the spirit of a modern-day Baroness Blixen. She speaks with fondness of family, especially on the style of grandmother, Bindy Lambton, an extraordinary beauty and hostess.
Here, Violet shares her approach to style and a few of her favorite things...
What sparked your interest in style?
I have always loved dressing up. When I was five, my actress godmother sent me a theatre costume from Australia: a red and dalmatian print, Cruella De Vil-inspired, mini dress. It made me feel grown-up and somewhat badass, which, for a five-year-old was unusually exciting. Neither of my parents were interested in fashion or trends; they just found a cut of clothes they liked, then replicated in different colors or prints. I found this strange, for as a young teen, I wanted to discover and experience all there was to discover (still do) about clothes and style; I was a magnet for anything strange or unusual.
Markets abroad for clothes and fabrics were always very inspiring, too. Istanbul, Rajasthan, Marrakesh, Siena, Florence – even London used to be good.
Recently, my mother admitted, when I was 17, she used to sneak people up to my wardrobe, to giggle at all the sartorial bizarreness I had managed to acquire - including a pair of Yeti boots, a hooded, baby blue knit crop top with seat belt clips and some (men's) gold Indian slippers with huge curly toes. Clothes were as much curiosities as they were pieces to wear. The fun begins when putting all these pieces together, creating a look that no one has seen before!
As a creative influencer, how do you remain true to yourself?
I think I am lucky in feeling a strange sense of comfort being myself. I take huge pleasure from looking at other people’s style, especially when it’s unusual, but have no interest in emulating it. The beauty is that it is theirs. As a stylist, my job is to create a story around the person I’m styling; so I get to experience other styles vicariously. But essentially I treat them like a brief. I suppose I am my own brief… but not one I’ve consciously studied.
A dress my Grandmother Bindy had made from Violet curtain fabric she fell in love with.
But... I’ve always liked unusual, quirky things that maybe I've not seen before, while being drawn to pieces that remind me of a feeling, e.g. excitement or naughtiness. At times, people I love have inspired me, like my Grandmother. She had incredible style, and in later years, dressed head to toe in butterflies; so as a child, I knew her only as Butterfly Lady.
Getting myself and others dressed is a visceral experience for me – so for my own style, if I don’t feel it deeply, I don’t go with it.
What would you like to accomplish in the next year?
The book I'm writing!
Images courtesy of Violet Naylor-Leyland, Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Simon & Schuster, Charlie Day Gardens, It's Me Lulu Guinness IG, 20th Century Fox and Shutterstock.