Woman Alive editor, Tola-Doll Fisher, spoke with stylist Lily Lam about how she got started in the industry

The first thing I notice speaking with Lily Lam on Zoom is her bright pink hair, and since I recently dyed my hair blonde (by accident, it was meant to be ginger but my follicles had other ideas) I was keen to compare notes. Turns out that for both of us with naturally thick black hair, changing hair colour is an expression of creativity that is very much a part of who we are – and in Lily’s case, something that helps in her various roles behind the scenes in the fashion industry.


Early years

Lily primarily works as a stylist and editor but in more than two decades in fashion she has also worked in fashion PR, fashion photography and personal shopping. I asked her how it all began. 

“I’ve always loved fashion. I’m one of seven and my mum used to sew clothes in our lounge. She did all our school uniforms from scratch. And she would make these amazing 80s ballgown dresses with big bows. Stuff you see a lot of in vintage shops now. So, from a young age I was exposed to all this creativity.”

Lily went on to study fashion styling and photography at the world-renowned London College of Fashion. I ask, with the familiarity of my own education-focused Nigerian parents, how Lily’s Chinese family felt about her stepping into the unpredictable and often unconventional world of fashion.

I’ve done fashion for so long that it’s in my DNA

“My mum didn’t really support me being in the fashion industry. She was like: ‘Go and be a lawyer or a doctor.’ And I was like: ‘But you were in the fashion industry!’ I think [my siblings] are all very different. My brothers in Hong Kong have their own businesses working in finance, recruitment. One of my sisters is a teacher and another is a chef. 

“Both my parents are Chinese; they got married in Hong Kong then moved to Britain and had seven children. My parents were very Chinese orientated when it came to faith, so more into Buddhism, but I think they did believe in God. J. John came to my primary school with the Gideon Bibles so we were reading these little Bibles at a young age. All my brothers and sisters are Christians. I feel like when I pray and read the Bible, a lot of it is about garments and it feels quite symbolic. Even the simplest things mention what we wear and I just love clothes and the way [they] make people feel and all the colours…I feel like that is how God talks to me.

“I styled a lot of bands when I started out. I had the option of working for a film or working for NME magazine (one of the world’s biggest music and pop culture magazines) and ended up working on all the covers with bands like Kasabian, Roger Daltry, Bobby Gillespie and even a Christian band called Black Kids from the US. One project led to another and then I started working in fashion PR for an agency called Blow and we did all the off-schedule shows for Fashion Week and also some interior styling. 

“So my background is working with bands and their music; giving them ideas on what to wear. But my work now is different because I’m running the shoots with magazines.” 


On the day of our interview, Lily has a spread published in Vogue Philippines and is scheduled to work with luxury fashion and lifestyle magazine, L’Officiel Arabia – “Which is like my dream because my kids are half Arabic” – and has a regular slot styling for fashion magazine .Cent.

“So now as a freelance [fashion] editor, I’m creating the shoots with my ideas and putting the whole team together. It’s kind of like having your own vision, and then creating that with clothes, photography and makeup. I’ve been collaborating with photographers David Titlow and Paul Farnham and various actors (including Daniel Ings from The Crown, Black Mirror and The Gentleman).”

The fashion industry is sometimes viewed as an immoral industry with connections to many notorious issues including eating disorders and poor working conditions. I asked Lily how she navigates faith in her work.


“There have been very challenging characters. Sometimes I’ve worked with people and then out of the blue, they become really nasty for no reason. But then I do the Christian thing – forgive them and just move on or pray for them. But it is tough, because you might feel betrayed or wonder if people are talking about you behind your back. 

“I constantly ask Yahweh: ‘What’s the next project? What’s the next inspiration?’ And I collaborate with what’s going on in my life and what season I’m going through. So sometimes I feel maybe it didn’t work out for a reason – and move on.”

Having started a high-flying career relatively young, Lily is open about struggling when she became a mother to two boys. 

“That transition was hard. It took me a while to figure things out, because when they were young, I was like: ‘I really want to be out there shooting’ and, obviously, it wasn’t the right season. Then once they started going to school, it got a bit better.”

For many of us, the pandemic threw up questions about the value in our work and, on contemplating her return to employment, Lily wondered whether she should change careers and do something more altruistic. 

Aligning with Christian creatives to support each other and pray is really powerful

“There were many times I thought I should reach out and do some charity work but nothing really opened up because I’ve done fashion for so long that it’s in my DNA.

“But then I ended up doing this big campaign shoot for Comic Relief. Everyone was isolating at home and I hadn’t worked for so long because I had been home with my children. So, I was literally catapulted back in the industry. Then I thought: ‘Maybe I am meant to be here!’


You may remember our interview with the actor Rhoda Ofori-Attah from September 2022 – Lily and Rhoda connected at small group. Women supporting women is a big part of what we do here at Woman Alive and Lily explains how having faith in numbers helps her work in the fashion industry: 

“I think aligning with Christian creatives to support each other and pray is really powerful. Because sometimes you feel like you’re by yourself. But when you’re with each other, you can carry each other in prayer. We don’t have much family around us now, so I feel like my support is in my hub [Lily’s small group at her church] and people around me at church. We’ve fasted a lot and that has been really powerful. 

“I have recently joined a support group for Christians working in fashion [@FashionForChristUK on Instagram]. It’s nice to get connected and just hang out because they know what you go through. It’s a really positive atmosphere and one in which we can pray for each other and remind one another to stand firm.”

For more information about Lily’s work visit LilyLaiLam.com, Instagram: @Lilylailam and X (Twitter): @LilyLaiLam