It is a grey Autumnal Sunday afternoon and Abbot Kinney is sitting down and suddenly feeling conscious of our chosen outfit to meet today's guest.

I'm dressed in my usual Sunday staples; worn in J Brand jeans for comfort, a slouchy red Mango cardi for warmth & a pop of colour and my very worn, but very loved, silk Cami NYC top...a must have for any jewellery obsessive!  So why am I over thinking what I'm wearing.  Well today's guest is none other than...


By way of introduction, Shelley has been in the fashion business for over 28 years and is the current Fashion Director of Mail on Sunday's You Magazine, joining just over 2 years ago.  She is the previous Fashion Director of Cosmopolitan, where she spent 15 years, and has also worked in similar positions at Marie Claire Health & Beauty, Company Magazine, Clothes Show Magazine and SHE Magazine. 


Shelly started in the industry cutting her teeth as an assistant at ELLE after studying Fashion & Journalism at The London College of Fashion.  She now  also has her own business in the form of 'The Stylish Stuff', her very own editorial space from which she can showcase her curated portfolio and blog on fashion, beauty & lifestyle.  From this platform, Shelly freelances in the areas of art direction, styling, writing, consultancy and editorial.  Shelly has worked with many major high street players in directing and styling look books, window & advertising images and has also worked with some of the world's top models, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell to name drop just a couple.  She is absolutely instrumental to any magazine's fashion image that she works with. 

Shelly has travelled the world with her career and drawn much of her inspiration from these experiences.  She has extensively collaborated with brands and recently designed a capsule collection of bohemian vegan bags for British brand Labante.  She also collaborated with Miss Selfridge on a 25 piece collection for festival season; 'Inspired by Shelly Vella' whilst working at Cosmopolitan.

Shelly lives in the most delightful cottage (styled to bohemian perfection as you'd imagine!) in leafy Buckinghamshire.  She is passionate about eco living and ending animal cruelty and is the proud previous winner of the PETA Influencer Award.  She loves all animals but her favourite is most definitely Prophet, her gorgeous chestnut horse.  It's safe to say when it comes to fashion & style there aren't many people more respected and admired than Shelly.  She was noted as making Cosmopolitan a magazine that every girl wanted to pick up but also one that every girl wanted to work for.  We can't wait to get chatting...

AK -  Thanks for sparing some of your Sunday to chat to us.  What does a typical Sunday for you look like?

SV - What a pleasure it is. Thank you for having me. 

For me Sunday is about time with my horse, Prophet. He’s 22 now and we just go for a gentle mooch around the gorgeous Ashridge Estate woodland near where he’s stabled.  In the afternoons I tend to spend time with friends (when possible in our new socially distanced world) or go to some of the local antique centres to lust over little curious pieces I like to collect. The evenings are spent by our wood-burner with the cats (sometimes the rabbit joins us from outside) and my partner makes a really wicked vegan roast… 

AK -  I wanted to ask you about vegan life actually.  You're a PETA award winner, you uphold a vegan lifestyle and also aim to live eco consciously, why is this way of life important to you & what rules do you try to live by?

SV - I turned vegetarian at the age of 11 (after nagging my Mum since the age of 5) and then turned vegan 6 years ago. I wish I’d done it sooner. Being vegan is my way of demonstrating my compassion for, and love of animals. It’s a lifestyle choice that means I really have to think about everything I consume – where it has come from & how it effects the environment. I never liked meat or fish and I genuinely hurt at the thought of animals suffering. It keeps me awake at night.

AK -  It's been a strange year (a little bit of an understatement), what has 2020 meant for the world of fashion & styling?

SV - Gosh it’s been a horrific year hasn’t it. I also lost my Mum this year and it’s overshadowed everything.  The only one positive to happen in my industry is that things have slowed down and brands are really wising up to the fact that they MUST become more sustainable, create less waste and explore new ways in which to deliver fashion to an ever smarter consumer. I had several months in lockdown where I couldn’t shoot and it made me stop and look at how we do things & how to try to be more responsible in what we recommend to the reader.

AK -  I'm so sorry to hear about your Mum.  That must have been truly horrendous.  Life all of a sudden feels very short and each moment very precious! No one can predict the future, least of all now, but looking into your crystal fashion ball, what do you envision the next upcoming style trends to be?

SV - I think there are two ways this can go really - either designers who have a bit of time to step off the fashion treadmill will have had time to really rethink the way they deliver collections seasonally, like Gucci announcing  it will cut the number of fashion shows it holds every year in an effort to reduce waste. The concept of seasonal clothes has become obsolete in so many ways.  The other way is that there will be collections reflecting a pared back more work from home, socially distanced way of life. Trend wise; I’m really as intrigued as the next person. Having been in the industry for so many years, watching the same trends rehashed year in, year out can be so uninspiring.

AK - Where do you draw inspiration from?

SV - I love to look to films, music, photography and the world around me. I work somewhere where trends don’t tend to resonate with the reader so I’m trying to present capsule wardrobe collections or ideas to inspire them.  I love watching people in the street and how they put things together...that inspires me a lot.

AK - You've travelled much of the world, if you could drop everything and fly somewhere tomorrow, where would you go?

SV - India. Always. I love the people, the food, the culture. I just feel at home there.

AK -  What's the best and worst parts of working in the fashion industry?

SV - The best has been being able to travel and getting to meet lots of lovely, creative people. The worst? Anything that is cruel. I’ve been an anti-fur campaigner for years but there is so much more to get upset about and to see change before I leave the industry would be amazing.

AK - You've been a huge success in a very tough and competitive market, what advice would you give to someone aspiring to a role like yours?

SV - I would say follow your dream & work REALLY hard. Always be nice to people, know what it is you love about what you do and do it well. I always recommend that anyone starting out learns the ropes, never try to leapfrog up the ladder as if you don’t know the guts of what your role is you wont be able to do it properly.  It’s tough out there with less intern roles, less magazines etc but if you do your research and have the right spirit you can work your way in and succeed.

AK -  How would you describe your own personal style?

SV - Resolutely bohemian. I love dresses, I love colour, I love texture, I LOVE tons of jewellery and I love to feel good in my clothes so I don’t care what other people think. I’ve never been trend-led, always sticking to my own style.

AK -  What would you recommend as must have wardrobe staples?

SV - For me my go-tos are; dresses...they are the one-stop shop of easy dressing and loose ones on a ‘meh’ day just make you feel better.  I also love a great pair of wide leg trousers, tailored for the perfect fit (a professional seamstress is a great number in your little black book),  a beautiful blouse that always makes you feel great & a well cut blazer that looks as good with boho dresses as it does with your wide leg trousers and blouse.

AK - What are you currently reading and what one book do we need to ensure we read this year?

SV -  I'm currently reading the new Matt Haig book. It’s dark but clever.

AK -  What lessons have you taken from 2020?

SV - Not to take anyone for granted and to really enjoy the now. I’ve also learnt that if I don’t need something to walk away (or close the computer)!

AK -  Which women inspire you?

All women inspire me….impossible to narrow this one down, sorry! 

AK -  And finally, what's your favourite piece of Abbot Kinney style? 

I love the 'Turquoise Crescent' necklace. It’s just beautiful. So many great pieces and such good prices.

AK - : Thank you Shelly you've been so generous with your time and it's been so insightful to see the world & fashion through your eyes.  I really admire your sense of self and individualism, it's a really aspirational trait to know who you truly are.  You are a style goddess with such a creative unique spirit and flair and I can certainly see why every girl wanted to work not just at Cosmo, but for YOU, at Cosmo!    

For more on Shelly get YOU magazine with The Mail on Sunday and visit the links below:





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