The Insider – Stylist Linda Portman
On a dreary November afternoon, no interview could have been more welcoming than one with Linda Portman. Linda’s blog, Alice in Wonderland, blends professional styling talents, skilled photography and lyrical prose that captivates like-minded wonderers seeking an escape from the mundane.
Q: Linda, you’re originally from Sweden – what brought you over to the UK?
A: I went to New York to study and did an internship at the New York Times. I ended up staying there for six years – first as an intern, then Fashion Assistant and Fashion Associate. I moved back to Stockholm to work freelance when my visa expired but soon it was time to move on. The choice was between Paris or London, and since I didn’t speak much French… I moved to London.
Q: All your experiences seem to have evolved naturally without a strict plan – would you say that’s true?
A: Most things seemed to come naturally. I started to do my own photography and shoots with the French magazine Crash and I’ve been obsessive about taking photographs ever since. I have found my ideal way to style and compose shoots; my photography has really developed with my ideas and skills.
Q: Do you work with a team of people or individually during your shoots?
A: It varies. When I collaborate with a photographer to style shoots, there is a whole team of make up artists, hair stylists and assistants; but when I’m the photographer, it’s usually just me and the model.
Q: It must be very satisfying and emotionally rewarding to see your ideas come to life and then published.
A: Yes, very much so. Since I do not use hair and make up people on my own shoots, I get to know the models, what they can do, and they understand what I would like from them. I get the shots I’d anticipated and keep good relationships too; it’s a happy balance.
Q: How has your faith supported you in the development of your career?
A: It has been my reality check that helps me realise and appreciate what is important. I never used to understand why I believe in the bible so much, when my friends didn’t and the stories were so fantastical. However, I read C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and it helped me understand why I believe what I do, and learn to appreciate my beliefs. My faith makes me calmer; knowing I have that stability means I can let problems just roll off me. God created us to be creators ourselves, and I am happy knowing that I am creating under His guidance.
Q: The Alice In Wonderland theme on your blog is captivating – what was your inspiration?
A: Myself! It is very personal as I just upload what I love. The name comes from a nickname I was given by my supervisor in New York, because I reminded her of Alice. I began the blog when I moved back to Stockholm, and it became an outlet while living in the smaller city. It reminded me of New York.
Q: How has it evolved?
A: It took me a couple of years to find a voice that felt natural. At the beginning, it was very dramatic, but since I have been doing my own photography, my words have become more fluent from one post to the next.
Q: Your words and photos create a very genuine impression of the person behind the blog.
A: That’s a compliment! I think everyone needs to just be themselves. ‘Alice’ is me, but she is just a little bit more than what I am.
Q: The concept of Wonderland revolves around escapism and a fantasyland. Do you use that idea to create an ideal world for you (and Alice) to explore?
A: Yes. It’s my fairytale, and it’s a longing for something to be more beautiful than it is. It’s sometimes good to think about what you could do in daily life, and this is my way to explore that and pretend. It’s a positive place.
Q: Are there any other projects in the pipeline at the moment?
A: Yes – I’m working on this project called Coquette Journal. It’s really a journal of my life and interests, with quite a romantic and dreamy style. I have decided to work just with women, as I prefer female aesthetics – something I think came from adoring ballerinas and dance when I was younger. It’s good for women to stick together and show our worth.
Q: What advice would you give young women hoping to be individual and successful in their careers?
A: Trust in your dreams. Although the path will always have obstacles, it’s important to keep pursuing what your heart believes in.
Interview by Alice Bowring
Photographs by Linda Portman