Life in

Laura Bailey

Photography: Michelle Beatty
Styling: Clare Richardson
The hair, the smile, the Chanel…Laura Bailey needs little introduction. As she invites us into her home, Bailey talks us through her life in fashion, style and work, and the curated edit she’s crafted of her favourite Reluxe pieces.

In her own words – well, that of her Instagram bio – Bailey is a mother, model, photographer, traveller, and contributing editor for British Vogue. She is also one of the most stylish, not to mention loveliest, women on the planet. Renowned for her laidback yet dressed-up look, and how she can make Chanel feel like a casual weekend staple, Bailey opened her home to share with us her curated edit from Reluxe, her most treasured possession (I’m sure you could hazard a guess), and the causes close to her heart.

How do you describe your personal sense of style?

English eclectic. Part sport-mad tomboy, part Portobello princess. 


What’s your favourite way to shop?

Rarely but impulsively. My favourite kind of shopping is market or vintage shopping, abroad as well as on my Portobello Road doorstep. Although I shop in the moment, I invest in classics - Chanel, a well-cut winter coat, good tailoring - and often wear things until they literally fall to pieces! I’m not the kind of woman who shops for a specific event, and I’m happy to wear the same dress or look over and over again, albeit in different ways.


How do you edit your wardrobe?

I am undeniably attached to much of my wardrobe but am also becoming (or aspiring to be) a ruthless editor. I love giving things away - to charity shops, to my girlfriends, to the teenagers - the feeling of space and freedom that brings. I'm definitely not a neat freak though. I have blitzes of good intentions but it never lasts long. And over busy work moments, I can admittedly have half-packed suitcases lying around, plus an obstacle course of shoes in my hallway.


What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is the community I’ve grown up in. It has given me not just a career but precious friendships and creative collaboration. But it’s true style, strength, and individuality that inspire me.


What are some of your favourite fashion brands?

Chanel, Patagonia, Preen, Alex Eagle Studio / Sporting Club, Bella Freud, Wales Bonner, Gabriela Hirst, Stella X Adidas, Simone Rocha, Erdem.


Have you got one item of clothing that you value most?

My Chanel little black jacket given to me by Karl Lagerfeld. Still my favourite piece, twenty years later. It emulates timeless, mood-changing chic whether I wear it with love-worn jeans or tweed and pearls.   

“I’ve got a thing about not saving things for 'best'. If something brings you joy, be that a party dress or diamonds, wear them today. Don’t wait for the perfect outing: the time is now.”

You mention your style being influenced by sport, was that part of your childhood?

I was obsessed with sports. Athletics and hockey especially. So I was more interested in kit and performance than style or glamour. That said, I do remember discovering eyeliner and the joy of school uniform customisation. And the thrill of discovering menswear in the local thrift stores which my friends and I wore in the sixth form. Picture the Blues Brothers in miniskirts.   


Who are some of your key influences when it comes to style?

As a kid - Chrissie Evert, Lisa Bonet, and Madonna. And the stars of the Brat Pack movies- Molly Ringwald and Demi Moore, mixed up in my subconscious with a little Merchant Ivory! As a model, I looked up to Ines de le Fressange for her Parisienne chic and Kristen McMenamy for her international punk irreverence. I also loved American dream girl Amber Valletta and the infinite cool of my friend Kiara Kabukuru. But if I could borrow anyone else’s closet, perhaps my friend Amanda Harlech’s. Mostly for the Chanel but also the vintage and the trappings of a (part-time) country life.


Beyond that, I’m inspired by London, nature, movies, travel, art, music, and my girlfriends. And collaborative creativity - at British Vogue, on set, and with my team.


What’s your best piece of fashion advice?

I’ve got a thing about not saving things for 'best'. If something brings you joy, be that a party dress or diamonds, wear them today. Don’t wait for the perfect outing: the time is now.   


Likewise, when I’m on the move, I know received wisdom suggests coordinated classics, but I make sure to pack something that feels luxurious and unexpected. On my most recent travels, this took the shape of a pale blue Oscar de La Renta slip I found in a charity shop which exudes Elizabeth Taylor hotel decadence even solo on a work trip.


A fashion rule that’s a dealbreaker?

No fur, ever.  

“Reluxe is the dream. I can search my favourite brands and discover archive gems, but also be inspired by the curated edit, the collaborators, and the founder herself, Clare Richardson. It’s slick and modern but feels soulful and personal - in short, it feels like the future.”

What does vintage shopping look like for you?

In the market or charity shops, I simply drift and browse unless I’m with my daughter looking for specific sportswear or denim brands. I love the quest, and that feeling when you stumble upon a treasure. I’m always attracted to old cotton nighties (wearing them as beach dresses on holiday) and silk slips, but also jewellery, scarves, and those random finds that become forever favourites - like my navy and red Chanel suit I found on the wrong side of Miami - a little too big but I don’t care.


And for me, Reluxe is the dream. I can search my favourite brands and discover archive gems, but also be inspired by the curated edit, the collaborators, and the founder herself, Clare Richardson. It’s slick and modern but feels soulful and personal - in short, it feels like the future.


Is there one particular piece that’s on your wishlist?

My cherished navy blue hooded trench coat by Phoebe Philo for Celine was stolen at a party and I’m always keeping half an eye out for its replacement.


Your home is beautiful, can you tell us how you style it?

Well, I don’t have a plan, I just slowly build a world out of things I love. I’m a frustrated minimalist, drawn to clean lines and a muted palette. But I also love my home to reflect my passions - for art and literature especially. Most importantly, I want to create a warm, welcoming home for my kids, my stepsons, my friends, and my two dogs! And in my little study, I cherish the art made by my kids over the years as well as the souvenirs of my work and travels. 


I’ve also got an emotional bond with the art and furniture that’s made by friends - photographs by Sam Taylor-Johnson, the sofas designed by Peter Micik - as well as my tiny and romantically overgrown back garden, which brings me joy.

How would you describe your working life, and does it reflect in your wardrobe?

A working day could find me on either side of the camera, biking across London for meetings, or at my desk in my studio, so my style needs to be practical as well as chic. As I usually start or end my day with tennis, I’ve either got my sportswear packed or I’m already wearing the socks if not the whole outfit.


As a photographer, I’m seeking to capture the spirit of a subject as much as the style. In the casting process, I am always inspired by the real lifestyle of the models and artists I meet and often return to my original Polaroids. Behind the camera, I’m most often shooting in a boyish suit (mine is by Alex Eagle Studio), a vintage tee, and trainers - or my beloved Doc Martens. And always something Chanel - a kind of lucky charm.


Are you working on any passion projects outside of the fashion industry?

I’m a long-term ambassador to Save The Children and have supported many of their projects and campaigns for a decade now, combining fundraising and storytelling alongside an inspiring UK team.


For the last few years, I’ve also taught and mentored in my local community centre. Since the Grenfell tragedy, teaching has become one of the most fulfilling elements of my working life.


What has been your proudest moment?

Like any mother, my proudest moments are with my kids. But at work, I’ve felt most proud when using my voice to support the causes I believe in, especially girls’ education and sport. I also felt proud after climbing Kilimanjaro for charity in harrowing conditions. But then- I can’t resist a dare! And as a writer, photographer and editor, that feeling comes from championing young talent and amplifying diverse voices across the industry. 

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