heathermary jackson talks cats, dogs, and working with larry clark
Heathermary Jackson is like a cat with nine lives. Born on the other side of the world, Heathermary left the sunny climes of New Zealand at just 20-years-old, with her sights set on London. Kicking off her career in the fashion cupboard of luxury retail company Club 21, it was while sending out DKNY garms and Giorgio Armani suits to titles like i-D and The Face that she first fell in love with fashion. She spent the next few years assisting stylist Charlotte Stockdale, before joining The Face as Fashion Director in the late 90s, and eventually moving to NYC at the turn of the millennium to work at new title America Magazine, with our very own Graham Rounthwaite. Tough, masculine, and raw, Heathermary's style has made her one of the most sought-after names in fashion. The latest edition of Puss Puss magazine, a visual ode to felines and fashion, is a testament to this. Curated by Heathermary, it's the most exciting issue yet, with four iconic covers shot by the late Ren Hang, Juergen Teller, Sandy Kim, and long time partner in crime Gia Coppola. Fresh from the launch, we caught up with the esteemed stylist to talk working with Grace Coddington, whether she prefers cats or dogs, and what went down at dinner with Larry Clark.
How do you think your background shaped who you are today?
Oh, it was a life-changing experience that totally shaped who I am today. Learning about super hard work and pushing yourself to the limit, throwing yourself into strange, challenging situations, different languages and all sorts of characters and strong personalities!
What's your earliest fashion memory?
I was about my son's age, nine or ten, and I would change outfits about eight times a day.
How did you get involved in styling?
Working at a PR company in London and meeting the right person who introduced me to being a styling assistant.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
A mix of high and low and masculine feeling. I like things to feel somewhat real.
What is it about dressing the body and creating looks that appeals most to you?
I love creating a look that I would want to wear, I love a masculine silhouette, that raw toughness I really gravitate towards.
Can you talk a bit about your involvement with Puss Puss, how it came about, and what it was like piecing it together?
They had asked me to style their cover for issue four. Then my agent and I spoke about the magazine after I curated an issue of Fat magazine last season. I wanted to do that again but be even more involved. Which is what I did and I loved it.
What is it about Puss Puss that resonates with you?
I love cats and I love fashion so it made sense for me to want to be involved as I think what they do and what we are doing is something unique and not a "cat magazine." Cat people are awesome!
What was the overall concept behind the issue?
Cats and people is the concept, loosely. It was either a certain person I love and that inspires me, like Jane Moseley and Gia Coppola (both awesome cat people and artists) or Suzi Leenaars who is like a cat. Love her so much!
What did you want readers to take away?
For people to get a look at some of the most interesting cat lovers and fashion influencers and legends like Grace Coddington and her two cats, Pumpkin and Blanket. Probably the most amazing cat lover of them all. What an amazing woman.
What are you most proud of in the issue?
I'm proud of all of it to be honest and very grateful to have gotten to work with everyone that contributed their time and talent on the project. Having Juergen Teller, one of my all time favorite fashion photographers, shoot Grace and her cats was so amazing and I'm so happy that all worked out! It was worth all the hard work! Very proud of that!
What was it like working with Gia and Jane on your cover story?
I absolutely love working with Gia! I've known her for over a decade now and am very fond of her. She is such a talented woman and I just love working with her. Jane I met on Gia's and my first shoot many years ago for i-D actually when Terry Jones was still the owner. I was taken with her and her very awesome blue hair. I think that was about eight or so years ago. She is one talented and special lady! So great to see her doing so well! They are both superb humans!
What was the concept behind the shoot?
I knew Jane had many little feline friends and wanted to do something quite personal at her home with Gia. We did that and discovered she has two rats, a dog, and lives down the street from a stable with, yes, horses! So it turned into Jane's animal farm. Not to mention all the awesome horror memorabilia at her home. She really is awesome.
What's been your career highlight or one shoot experience that you're most cherished being a part of?
Back in my days as Fashion Director at The Face I had the idea I wanted to do a cover of all the kids Larry Clark had discovered and propelled them into an acting career. My friend James Grant had a young company called Starworks at the time and organized a dinner with Larry Clark and I to discuss the idea. I had spoken to the most talented Steven Klein about the idea and he was interested in shooting it. It all went ahead and Larry and James and I worked together on casting the kids Larry had discovered including Chloë Sevigny, Michael Pitt, Leo Fitzpatrick, and Rosario Dawson. We did an homage to a Vanity Fair fold out epic cover. I feel very privileged and proud of that cover and will never forget that experience from start to end. Larry was such an inspiration to me and still is. That was my first shoot with Steven Klein, the start of many more to come. Steven is an incredible artist; honestly it was a dream come true.
Do you prefer cats or dogs?
Cats! But don't tell our rescue mutt that.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I dream for a peaceful future for my son and me. I worry about what kind of world he will inherit. My dream for the future is to be able to spend my older days by the beach and be surrounded by people and things I love. I want my son to have all the opportunities that being raised, in part, in NYC can bring a person. Saying that it's important to me that there is a balance. I'm from New Zealand and we have a house on one of my favorite beaches, I just wish it was quicker to commute!
Text Tish Weinstock