Gemma styling up the rails at X Factor HQ

X Factor Stylist Gemma Sheppard Spills All…

So firstly, just how many outfits are you responsible for?

We started off this year with 33 contestants and each contestant has to have three outfits – Saturday, Sunday Ensemble song, and Sunday results. And we also have to dress the dancers. There can be 100 costumes just on dancers alone!And what does it take to be an X Factor stylist?
Crazy levels of organization! I wont apologise for the fact that I have OCD. That’s what makes me good at my job and it is ultimately what keeps me really calm.
If you need to be really creative you need to be in a calm environment that is really fun and clear. I don’t save lives so I don’t like people who get too stressy. I can’t stand negativity.

What are the contestants like to style?

I love working with Fleur, she has natural swagger. She knows who she is; she knows what she’s doing. She embodies a pop star and acts like a pop star so she takes things to a whole new level. She always rocks a skinny jean with a leather jacket and a nice pair of heels. Fleur’s hair makes the whole look for me. I’m a fan of a great hair do!

Lauren is adorable. The most important thing is we keep her looking young and fresh. I didn’t want to lose her youth. She is so young and pretty, I wanted to retain that. I didn’t want her to look like she was suddenly 25. They’ve all got to the point that they trust us and we have a good styling relationship with the contestants. Their schedule is so tight, so they have to go with it.

Has there been any point where you and the contestants disagree on outfit choices?

We’ve been blessed with a great year. I not had a situation with any of the contestants; they’ve all been willing to try things on. I met them 24 hours before we did the first makeover – two weeks before live show. It is important to develop the relationship. Clothes are about empowerment. . When you look good you feel good. They’ve got to like what they’re wearing. I don’t want to force them into wearing something then they tell the press the next day how much they hate it.

How do you keep all the clothes for every artist in one place?!

You can see by how I have the trailer organized, we only bring down the looks for that weekend. It’s about us putting together a whole collaboration of looks. I can create a look that in my mind will look amazing, but then we might see someone on stage with the choreography and think actually they need to have more flexibility to dance.

And where do you keep all the extras?!

This year I created a fashion hub – we basically called in as much product as we could from as many places as possible. We held a press day, so all the brands could meet us, they told us what they could offer. We then built our mini Selfridges. The beauty of the show is that it is an amazing platform for up and coming designers and people who have never had a platform. By creating the fashion hub it gives us an autonomy and freedom when styling that prevents a last minute panic.

So you’ve been working on the show for over 10 years now, who else have you dressed?

I styled Sharon Osbourne, Tulisa and Danni Minogue when they were judges. Danni has a naturally great body and she knows how to wear clothes. She knows how to own her outfit and that you shouldn’t let the clothes wear you. After this I’m styling Ashley Roberts on her I’m A Celeb commentating job and she’s also going to be on Saturday Night Takeaway.

What was styling Tulisa like compared to when you first met her? She’s been through a lot, did you noticed a change?

Yes she’s been through a lot, she’s like a phoenix rising from the ashes. She really owns it now. T now really loves fashion; she had a show stopping moment at The Pride of Britain Awards. You could tell she’s been working out. T has had an incredible evolution and now she’s much more open to fashion. She has this incredible aura and is so drop dead beautiful. Her new video is fabulous and she looks phenomenal, off the charts amazing.

What’s been a standout fashion moment on the show?

Fleur’s Thriller dress was exciting. It was made here. We had to wrap her in clingfilm first and wrapped her in brown tape, made a body mould of her and dripped latex on to that. The outer dress was made like a couture dress but the whole thing was made of Velcro so it could be quickly and easily ripped off. To achieve that on live TV was unbelievable adrenaline. Fleur had to go down under the dancers and out of the top dress in three seconds. This isn’t just about fashion, it’s costume, and it’s theatre.

What should everyone be wearing for party season?

Tuxedo trouser suit in lux fabric and they’re loads of them on the High Street. SuperTrash does a good one and so does Ted Baker. I love a trouser suit. It’s such a great androgynous look that you can glam up or tone down depending on the event. You can add jewellery to it or cool heels. But I’m really into doing it with a brogue.

What else has caught your eye on the high street?

The high street reflects what goes on the catwalks and River Island is doing that well at the moment. I absolutely love Jeremy Scott for Moschino’s entire collection, I think it’s so playful and its being picked up. In River Island, they have a jumper with a popcorn logo, it’s so cute. I love River Island – they also have a lot of winter creams, which is great for Christmas. I also like Zara, Top Shop and Ted Baker.

And your number one style tip?

Its about structure, its all about the silhouette. It doesn’t matter what size you are but you need to have a clean silhouette. Often people get the wrong size bra, which creates lumps and bumps. I hate when people get obsessed with sizes, work with what gives you a clean silhouette. Size doesn’t matter; it’s all about your silhouette. I don’t think fashion can give your confidence completely you have to find it within yourself. But absolutely clothes are a great tool to help you with that.

By Sanjeeta Bains

To see what Gemma and her team get up to before the shows at the weekend, watch the video below!