A fashion writer to be reckoned with

Kenya Hunt, has one of those jobs that’s so surreal you have to continuously pinch yourself. As fashion features director at one of the UK’s biggest, boldest and most gutsy fashion magazines, ELLE, this London-based New Yorker is a force to be reckoned with. She has a resume of work that spans some of the world’s biggest publications, including InStyle and Metro International newspaper, and has rubbed shoulders with some of the hottest A-list celebrities and music artists.

Kenya works with the world’s best copy writers, columnists, fashion and female role models – people who constantly educate and inspire her. She tells Khoollect about the world of fashion magazines and shares some of her experiences along the way.

A Day in the Life of Kenya Hunt

You’ve written for some amazing high-profile publications. What’s your career highlight?

There have been a few. At the top of the list would be working with Karl Lagerfeld on a special editorial project where he guest-edited Metro International, during my time on staff there. We created an app as well, and I got to work quite closely with his team, and even Karl himself. He was inspiring and the whole project was really fun (he even distributed the newspaper on the street in Paris). He is such a force – I wish he would bottle up his energy and sell it.

Tell us about some exciting projects you’ve worked on at ELLE UK?

At ELLE UK, I’ve already worked on so many amazing projects. Our podcasts – the first from a women’s magazine title in the UK – have been pretty amazing, because the team and I were already such a big fan of the format. It was great to be able to experiment with storytelling in that way.

Working with top class writers and contributors, such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Robin Givhan, is great. I also get to edit copy from ELLE’s brilliant columnist, Rhyannon Styles, who has been chronicling her transition from male to female. Readers have connected with her story in such a moving way.

What’s the most challenging AND exciting part about the huge (and very swift) move from print to online media?

I know a lot of people who work in media get tense about this topic. But, I think digital and print work incredibly well together. For example, it’s amazing seeing how a stunning magazine cover or editorial can travel far and wide (quickly) on Instagram and generate so much excitement and discussion. Before social media, I can’t say that I remember magazine covers or advertising campaigns generating the level of buzz and chatter they do now.

I think digital can actually amplify the best qualities of print, and turn it into a real moment. I like being a part of that, both as a reader and an editor.

What do you love most about your job? 

I work with so many inspiring women – women whose work I’ve followed for years, such as Lorraine Candy and Anne-Marie Curtis. The team is great in that it’s very sisterly; Lorraine has really created a work environment in which people are constantly exchanging ideas and learning from one another regardless of title or age. The senior staff learn just as much from the interns and assistants, and vice versa.

Worst fashion trends ever?

I don’t know, I generally think people should wear what makes them feel happy. But, there was a moment in London where everyone was wearing denim – but like the ‘jeggings’ kind of denim – that was ripped at the knees. So, the rips looked kind of taut. Not the best look.

What trends are in store for 2016?

I’m really loving the celebration of individualism that was everywhere for spring/summer 16. That ranged from the 90s through-line that ran through some collections, to bold eccentricity. This idea is big in fashion, but it’s also happening culturally as well.

Meet Kenya Hunt

Most memorable interview? 

I mentioned Karl, whom I’ve interviewed a few times and is always good for calling it like he sees it via highly quotable aphorisms. I recently interviewed Lupita Nyong’o. She was intriguing simply because she’s a woman who takes her platform quite seriously and uses it to tell stories that aren’t typically told.

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few … 

Honestly, I’ve been all about decluttering a la Marie Kondo and trying not to accumulate too much stuff. However, I do have a habit of buying statement shoes (really, really tall Alaïas, or hyper-decorated Pradas for example), that I love the look of but will only wear like, once a year. I just like knowing that they’re in my closet. I would like to get back into collecting artwork. My husband is an artist and my sister has worked in the art world for years, so we’ve amassed some nice pieces over the year. I just need to get them all framed!

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?

A cast iron skillet from New York, simply because I love food and we’ve made so many incredible meals with it.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Stop rushing everything.

Your tip for pulling off an effortless easy dinner?

Puy lentils, which work as a base for any protein or veg. I love it with beetroot, greens and goat cheese (a recipe I picked up after having it at Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris kitchen). Lately I’ve been using the lentils in a stew with turmeric, kale, cumin, tomatoes, carrots and chicken. Great for cold and flu season.

Urban Favourites

Where do you call home and what do you love most about it?

Southeast London. I know Londoners can get tribal when it comes to which side of the river you live on, but I’m a New Yorker and don’t get involved with that. I love my neighbourhood because I’ve got so many great friends who live locally.

Your favourite places for coffee?

I rarely drink it, but if I do it’s coming from Monmouth at Borough Market, the best in the city.

Best spot for dinner?

St John’s.

The best nook in the city for reading or writing?

My bedroom

Your top five favourite fashion spots in London?

Dover Street Market, Matches, Mount Street, and stalls at the city’s many outdoor markets (Portobello Road, Broadway Market, Brixton etc).

Best green space or park?

There are too many to settle on one. Dulwich Park is just a quick bus ride away and often take my three-year-old to the duck pond there on weekends

How do you spend a lazy Sunday?

Showing my son someplace new, interesting and fun in London or vegging out with all of the Sunday editions.

Music, film or art – which couldn’t you live without?

I want to say art, but it would have to music because it’s such a constant in my day.

If not in London, where would you be?

Back home in New York. Even though I left it, it’s still one of the best cities in the world.

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