INTRODUCING: GILLIAN ORR
Gillian Orr – the MP’s assistant, turned PA, turned writer, turned content director at Refinery 29. As a passionate supporter of women’s rights and now in charge of an editorial team at a women’s magazine, Gillian finds herself in an influential position and you can be bloody sure she’s going to use it…
What does being a strong woman mean to you?
To know your own self-worth and to stand up for and support other women.
Is there a person, or a place that has been most influential on your life?
I have so many favourite bars, it's hard to choose...
You are Content Director of Refinery 29 UK, an online magazine that challenges women’s issues. What has been your most rewarding article published to date?
We've done so much on trying to tackle taboos around periods and mental health which I'm really proud of. One story that stands out, though, was when a young woman who had been raped at university came to me wanting to tell her story and also raise awareness about universities' appalling record of handling rape cases. I was really taken aback by the scale of sexual assault at UK universities and how little the organisations are doing to combat the situation. Many turn a blind eye so that the uni's reputation isn't tarnished and survivors don't get the support they need. The young woman had started an initiative called Revolt Sexual Assault and I have continued to work with them as they campaign for policy reform.
How did your career start in the creative industry?
When I graduated (with an English literature degree) I had no idea what I wanted to do other than having some sort of desire to work in journalism or television. After working at MTV for a bit and realising television wasn't for me, I landed a job at The Independent as a personal assistant until I bugged them enough to let me write some articles. Eventually I was writing full-time. If I've learned anything about this industry it's that no two people have the same path into it.
"To know your own self-worth and to stand up for and support other women"
Refinery29 UK recently supported a campaign to make upskirting a sexual offence. This campaign had the power to change and modernise the law. How important is it to publicise issues like this?
When Gina Martin approached me to support her terrific campaign, it was a no-brainer. The world is still so far from being equal for men and women. The fact that it wasn't specifically illegal to take an unsolicited photo up someone's skirt in England and Wales is mind-boggling. But it only wasn't illegal because it doesn't really happen to men. (If you don't believe me, take a look at Scotland which made it a sexual offence in 2009. Why? Because men wear kilts.)
House of Holland has recently launched a collection of couture block suits in the ‘Pride’ colours. What do you think of them!
The cut of the suits and the colours are amazing. I never thought anyone would get me in a yellow suit (unless I was going as The Mask to a fancy dress party) but I actually loved it! Plus a percentage of sales go towards the amazing Albert Kennedy Trust, so I'm sold.
Has your work influenced your own personal style?
Not really but I suppose I've tried to make a bit more effort since I was put in charge of the editorial team at Refinery29... not that that always works out. Put it this way, when I was asked to make an impromptu appearance on Sky News recently I had to go out and buy a new t-shirt from APC because we didn't think a ripped Megadeth t-shirt was the right vibe.
How does the House of Holland design aesthetic connect to you personally?
It picks me up. I see all the patterns and different shades and it puts a smile on my face. It's like colour therapy.
How does it feel to be a part of ‘House of Holland life’?
I actually used to live with Henry a while ago so I feel like I've been part of 'House of Holland life' for years! He was a lot of fun to live with. Ask him about the time he dressed up as Freddie Mercury...