Leah Abbott is a versatile figure in the fashion realm, working as both a skilled fashion stylist and a model. Her work involves partnerships with renowned fashion brands and internationally acclaimed music artists such as Skepta and Jorja Smith. Leah's expertise lies in curating a sense of 90s nostalgia-infused street style through her creations.

You weren’t always set on a career in fashion – what changed and how have you become the stylist and image curator that we know today?

I think a career in fashion was always part of my destiny but I just didn’t know how to tap into it growing up in an area with not much opportunity. Moving to London and meeting creative people who had somewhat ‘DIY’ lifestyles really opened up my perspective on what is possible and how passions and hobbies can become careers.

What are some of the challenges you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?

I think there’s always the fact that I’m a woman and a woman of color, which undoubtedly affects opportunities in the very elitist world that is the fashion industry. I strive to maintain good morals and let great work speak for itself, using these factors as positive influences and inspiration in my work.

What does your creative process look like when it comes to creating looks for your clients?

I feel like I’m always creating whether I’m physically dressing someone or just home watching a movie –  I’m getting ideas, saving references, and creating boards. I always have a clear direction I want to go in when I meet someone and feel their energy, so once this happens the next step is just finding the perfect pieces from brands that fit this direction.

What’s been a highlight of your career so far?

I’d have to say working and attending the Grammys in 2019. It’s such a momentous event I’ve grown up watching on TV, so to be there and have a purpose there felt very surreal.

How has your own style evolved over the years and who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

Naturally working in and exploring fashion is going to change anyone’s style. I have more access to brands, diverse people and niche pieces so this has really expanded my wardrobe and my love for items. I definitely no longer follow what’s ‘cool’ and just feel sure on what I love and if it looks good on me – that’s all that matters now!

As a part of the Zalando Visionary Award jury, you had to review lots of incredible brands – what made Paolina Russo stand out for you?

I’ve followed Paolina for a long time and have always first and foremost associated the brand with creativity and dedication to design and manufacturing, both of these were key in the deciding process for Zalando.  We wanted innovative brands that are thinking about the future – not just today. Paolina was a perfect fit here and clearly had amazing plans for what the Zalando Visionary Award could offer the brand.

If you had a crystal ball, what do you predict is in the future for Paolina Russo?

I see a continuation of the brand’s already incredible creative ideas. Runway shows, bigger collections and collaborations, the natural path a talented brand can take with the right support.

What are you looking forward to most when attending Copenhagen Fashion Week in August?

I love visiting Copenhagen and have been there a few times now for fashion week which is only getting bigger! I can’t wait to chat properly with the designers, see their progression and also note down some pieces to use in my own work.

What does being a change maker within the fashion industry mean to you? 

I think being a change maker is to not shy away from things you’re not happy with in your industry. If you don’t see enough of something – create it, do it, and do it unapologetically!

Who are the visionaries in fashion that have inspired you over the years?
I really admire people who strive to reinvent themselves and explore different eras of themselves and their fashion, examples I love are Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Pharrell – so many greats to name that inspire me daily.