Taking inspiration from our ‘The Biz’ feature in Issue 13, where we gave readers an insight into how influential key players in the sneaker/fashion industry made their way from A to Z, we thought it necessary to spread some female love and get a woman’s perspective. One who knows magazine madness like the back of her hand is ex-pat and serial blogger, Linlee Allen. A veteran in publishing circles, Linlee has proven that being able to sell yourself is the bottom line to making it in this fickle business. With a knack for talking her way into any situation, she has quickly garnered a massive roster of publications she contributes to, and is now the go to girl when it comes to fashion forecasting, no thanks to her inspiring photo blog Delinee Delovely! Not bad for a girl from Adelaide! There definitely is something good in the water down there.
Hi Linlee, where in the world are you coming to us from today?
From my office in Los Angeles.
It seems when you hail from Adelaide and have a passion for style and expression, it’s best to get the hell out of there and free yourself! How did you find growing up in Radelaide and how did it mould you into who you are today?
I had a really brilliant time growing up in Adelaide especially around my mid to late teens. I discovered clubs and music and basically worked in retail in Rundle St from the day I left school until the day I got on a plane and headed to Europe. I can remember a DJ who I was very lucky to have spent my teen years listening to, HMC, come back from overseas and tell me ‘Europe is amazing. You see these incredible people walking on the street looking like they are the coolest thing ever. And you know what? That's ok because they ARE the coolest thing ever.’ I was very curious about overseas, especially Europe. I remember buying an import copy of an Italian magazine for about $10 (which back then was a lot) and kind of feeling some form of validation knowing that a world outside of Australia even existed. I grew up playing Godard and Fellini films non-stop in my bedroom. From the age of 14 there was always some foreign film looping whilst I was doing my homework or waking up in the morning or whatever. I was obsessed with Italy and I wanted to live there. Straight from an old '60s film into the present. It's not that Adelaide was so bad or anything, I just always had the feeling that I would find myself in Europe. And I did.
Was it always fashion and magazines? Were you obsessed with them growing up or did you fall into this profession by accident?
I guess magazines were an escape, a bird’s eye view of another world for me. I either wanted to work in fashion or to study art history and I wasn't patient enough to stay in Adelaide and study. As clubbing was such an influential part of my teenage years, I started taking photos at parties and after a while I guess everyone knew me as the girl with the camera. One of the local street newspapers asked me for some pictures and requested that I write some text to go with it and that's pretty much how it all started. Of course at school I majored in English but I never imagined I would write as a career. It was always just something that I could do, some sort of creative vessel which came naturally for me and that's what I depended on to fund my travels once I left Adelaide.
How did you manage to become the jet set writer you are today, and where do you base yourself these days?
When I left in 1997 I ran out of money after a few months in New York so I bought a laptop and started trying to sell articles to a few websites. One of which asked me to come to Paris to start working for them. I thought I’d stay a few weeks and ended up staying three years. I returned to Australia in 2000 and decided to give Sydney a try. Three years later I returned to Paris for a second time, where I stayed until 2007 before relocating to LA. I don't know about being a jet set writer. My philosophy is that I spread the word and help to strengthen awareness on people or subject matters that I find inspiring and of interest. Nine times out of ten, talented people don't necessarily have the skills or the confidence to promote themselves properly. That's where I step into the picture.
How did Stylebyte come about? In fact how have all your jobs intertwined and led to one another?
Stylebyte was created when I returned to Australia. Simon Lock and a few others in the fashion industry knew of my work from Paris and when they heard I was moving to Sydney they approached me about the position. The TV show was a spin-off from the website itself. My other jobs have intertwined through contacts; I worked in PR for Colette in Paris for four years and met a lot of people, many of whom I am starting to reconnect with now in America.
Do you ever find that people who do not know you well ask ‘when are you going to get a real job’ or is everyone quite interested and slightly envious of your job?
Actually I’ve always had lots of people envious about my job but I guess it just goes with the territory. I quite like the idea of randomly introducing myself to people and making their acquaintance all in the name of work. It helps that I don't really suffer from feeling intimidated often.
So what exactly is your job title now? Are you still working for www.stylebyte.com.au and hosting the Foxtel show?
No no. Stylebyte ended when I left Sydney in 2003. I'm a freelance writer / photojournalist so basically I'm a west coast editor for www.style.com (the online home of US vogue), V magazine, and Paper magazine. I also contribute to i-D, Teen Vogue, Lucky, Wow!, New York Magazine, Nylon Japan and other publications/sites. When I left Paris last year I decided to start a blog to document the difference in street style between a place like Paris compared to Los Angeles. As a result of doing so, I am now approached by trend forecasting agencies in Europe and also work as a creative consultant for different brands.
Lets talk style. Who is killing it at the moment?
PAM, Jun Takahashi, Bernard Willhelm, Azzedine Alaia.
What are your thoughts on the worldwide domination of sneaker culture? I know you love rocking your Nikes but what sort of trends are you seeing on the streets when you are capturing shots for your blog DELINLEE DELOVELY?
I'm not exactly what one would describe as a die-hard sneaker fan but I can definitely see the obsession factor for what it is. I really like prints a lot. Up until the Nike x Liberty Dunk I had never worn a pair of Dunks. In Paris I always wore printed Converse (like Colette herself) and having said that, a lot of the people I’ve been photographing lately for work projects or for my blog are more often than not wearing printed designs. I like the printed Eley Kishimoto Converse which were released over two seasons ago and are still sell-outs. I like the new flag series that Supergra have done. I liked Misha's Air Max in green. And I'm currently consulting on a Sergio Rossi x Puma collaboration which looks like it could turn out to be interesting (launching at Colette early next year) so I'm looking forward to that. Otherwise I'll probably wear a Nike printed blazer more than any other sneaker.
Are you seeing a steer away from the usual Nike get ups to more underground or even simpler brands?
I just came from a Nike ID appointment where I was really disappointed with the dismal selections available in a style as popular as an Air Max. Considering that concept has been around for a while now, I was surprised to see such a basic 4-colourway option with some of the features. I think Nike is in a weird spot right now. I'd like to see adidas making a creative comeback in the next year. And I wouldn't be opposed to supporting a re-emergence of New Balance either. When I first arrived in Paris in 1997 they were extremely cool.
Do you think it's ironic then that sneaker styles seem to reflect what is in fashion on the streets, like the massive push for vintage and not looking like everyone else?
I think fashion takes its cue from so many different elements these days; everything seems both ironic and idiotic rolled into one. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
So when are we going to see Linlee do a colab shoe?
Whenever I'm approached.
You are so well known in the fashion circles now, not only as a blogger, journalist, photographer and ‘lady around town’ but it seems a lot of the scene look to you fashion advice through your work and websites. What are the key mantras that get you through making it in this very fickle business?
1. 'First they laugh at you. Then they ignore you. Then you fight them. And then you win.'
2. 'Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.'
3. 'What you see is where you're at.'
What has been your favourite magazine to work for and why does it top your list?
The favorites are the ones that pay me on time.
Where will Linlee Allen be in the next five years?
Writing somewhere about something or somebody and reaping the rewards for it.
Any parting words of wisdom?
Live and learn
All model images and Linlee self portrait courtesy of the amazing Linlee Allen.