'I burnt Nicole Nicole Scherzinger’s dress' - Sunderland graduate tells all about life as a celebrity stylist

From burning Nicole Scherzinger’s dress to sewing up Jessie J’s outfit live on stage, Madeleine Bowden talks about her life as a stylist and how she made it in the competitive world of fashion.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 1:52 pm

The celebrity stylist, who is originally from Cramlington and a University of Sunderland fashion journalism graduate, has talked about her life in the industry – which wasn’t always plain sailing.

The now 32-year-old was working as an assistant stylist on the X Factor when she accidentally burnt a hole in Nicole Scherzinger’s dress.

Though she can laugh about it now, and the Pussycat Doll forgave her, it stands out in Madeleine’s mind as one of the worst mishaps she’s encountered in her life as a freelance stylist.

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Madeleine Bowden (left) was the personal stylist for Jessie J (pictured right)

“There was a stain on Nicole’s dress,” she recalls. “After trying to get it out I was drying the dress with a hair dryer and burnt the dress 20 minutes before the live show started. I had to give her the option of re-styling it or wearing a different dress.

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“She chose a different dress, and hair and make-up were so angry because their hours of work were specifically for the original outfit.”

In another bizarre styling moment, Madeleine found herself sewing up Jessie J’s pants live on stage after they split during an energetic dance routine.

Montage of images of University of Sunderland graduate Madeleine Bowden (top left) and Jessie J

Madeleine, who recalled her fashion adventures in a masterclass for current university students 10 years after she left, told all about styling stars such as the Pussycat Dolls and Jessie J, and working for brands and publications including Superdrug, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan.

“There were times when I would walk into stores like John Lewis and talk myself into getting loaned loads of clothes,” she told fashion students. “If I couldn’t borrow clothes from stores and businesses, I made my own out of anything I could find. There’s one picture of me somewhere covered in bin bags.”

Prior to her career as a stylist, Madeleine took on multiple internships in London at publications such as ELLE, InStyle and The Telegraph.

Madeleine landed her first gig at ELLE after meeting the editor at Newcastle Fashion Week: “I went up to her and asked if I could interview her.

"My hands were shaking, and I felt like I was asking some stupid questions. She told me that ELLE were running an internship scheme and said that I should sign up for it.”

Madeleine transitioned into celebrity styling when working as Nicole Scherzinger’s assistant stylist on The X Factor and became a stylist in her own right when she joined Jessie J on her arena tour.

She became the singer’s personal stylist for every event including her time on The Voice, music videos, tours and red-carpet events.

The 32-year-old has also worked on campaigns and adverts for well-known commercial companies, such as John Freida, Arcadia, L’Oréal and New Look.

“My ethos has always been to say yes to everything when you are starting out,” said Madeleine, 32.

“If that means working for free or going right in at entry level, that’s fine, just do whatever it takes.”

Liz Lamb, senior lecturer in Fashion Journalism, said: “Madeleine is such an inspiration for students and she’s a great example of someone who grasped every opportunity available to her while studying at the university."

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