While reality shows often feature quirky competitors, last year’s Stylista was particularly notable for the colourful cast of characters that it starred. Yet, while conniving Megan and fake-accented Jonathan were memorable, it was Kate Gallagher who seemed to stir up the most controversy.
In the competition for a job at Elle, former law student Gallagher had no experience in the fashion industry, leading to ridicule by her fellow contestants. While some fashion-savvy viewers rolled their eyes, others rooted for the underdog.
In an exclusive interview, Gallagher talks personal style, insecurities, and Rachel Zoe.
Q: What do you think were the most realistic parts of Stylista. and what was played up for TV?
A: I think the most realistic part of the show was just being on it. I was so excited to film a show in New York City. All the stuff that followed was silly, and a big waste of time. The most realistic part of the show was our outfits. I really wanted to wear everything I wore. I loved it all, and I don’t regret a single outfit.
Also, I lost, like, nine to ten pounds from stress and nerves, but I gained it all right back at home in California.
My mannequin was totally real, the one that Elle’s fashion news director and Stylista judge Anne Slowey made fun of. I’m so proud of it, though. My personality was written all over that thing. Probably my favorite moment of the entire experience.
Also, I’m obsessed with nothing, and I won’t say I’m obsessed with fashion. I really don’t dress like anyone but me. So conforming wouldn’t work. Elle wasn’t my dream job after the first day, so that wasn’t realistic. Elle was just a walking, breathing Seinfeld-like episode of silly events that made me laugh and cry.
I’ll dress however I want. I’m 5 ft 2. I have my own style, and it’s awesome. Besides, no one really cares at the end of the day. No one cares. Save your money for a house.
Q: Did you get the opportunity to interact much with the Elle staffers off-camera?
A: No, unfortunately when I wasn’t with the staff, I was with the cast – or what was left of them at the end of each episode. The night I left was an incredible relief. The minute I knew it was all over, I was surprisingly calm. I didn’t cry at all and waited on the set for someone to take me home. The lights had all been turned off, and everyone was just waiting to leave. It really felt like a TV show at that time. I gave Anne a hug, and when she got in the elevator she told me that it was just the beginning and that opportunities come up every day in life – you just need to be aware of them and ready.
Q: Why do you think the media is so fascinated with the fashion world?
A: The media is driven by a bunch of middle-aged men in LA that want to stay wealthy by exploiting young women. The merge between reality exploitation and the illusion of a fashion industry job on television is a ratings gold mine. Right after puberty, a female in major US cities is bombarded with peer pressure to look and act a certain way. Their hopes and aspirations are translated on screen, and every individual cast member plays on a regular person’s vulnerabilities. I was twenty-two, the most perfect age for insecurity. It’s not an unknown thing that women in their early twenties are just totally transforming and confused.
Then comes product placement. No one who can actually afford a pair of Louboutins is watching reality TV. They are out making money at work in major law firms, financial institutions, marketing jobs… they may have kids to take care of, or work in entertainment themselves. They are doing something. So what you actually get is an increase in sales at places like Forever 21 and Macy’s, with young ladies going out and imitating the trends. It also increases tabloid sales, because no one actually reads the "articles" in US Weekly. I read more on Perez Hilton than I do in magazines, because at least he is funny.
Right now, my fashion world consists of not eating too many pretzels and laughing at Rachel Zoe outtakes on YouTube. She’s HILARIOUS.