Britt Marie is an up and coming fashion stylist.  She has learned a lot by working beside Fashion Stylist Tinna Laakkonen.  With that great opportunity she has worked on publications such as Vogue China, Vogue Italian, Teen Vogue, Vogue Nippon.  Print and commercial: Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Cover Girl, Revlon.  Photographers: Terry Richardson, Patrick Demarchelier, Arthur and many more. 

Exclusively Fashion Magazine: What made you interested in becoming a fashion stylist?

Britt Marie: I think my interest was a bit roundabout.  I had spent my entire four years of college studying Chinese language and East Asian History.  But it was all becoming so tedious and void of creativity.  I had the opportunity to finally take an elective course during the last semester of my senior year, which was costume design.  It was literally a dream.  I remember Brooke Magnaghi had been a graduate of Middlebury and she came to speak to our class.  She was then working at W Magazine and was talking about her experiences.  She is now the Accessories and Jewelry Director there.   The professor encouraged me to look into design school and within months of graduation had applied to Parsons and FIT for post grad studies in fashion design.  That was the path eventually lead to my job as an assistant stylist.  It is an amazing job, the elements of which eclipse just merely fashion itself.

EFM: When did you decide to launch out on your own as a fashion stylist?

BM: I only recently began working on my own freelance jobs this year.  I have assisted under a freelance stylist for four years.  It is tough for a freelance assistant to transition from assisting to working on your own. We jump from publication to publication, work with so many different advertising clients, and the team is always changing.  You don’t have the opportunity to work for just one magazine that might support you and help you build a foundation.  I am super ambitious, so have worked hard building my book with test shoots, as to give people an understanding of what I could do in the industry.  At some point you just have to make that leap and hope for opportunities. 

EFM: How did you become Tiina Laakkonen's assistant?

BM: It all happened a bit serendipitously.  I had just finished a design internship after completing my fashion design degree at Parsons.  I was on Craigslist searching for a new apartment and had also decided to browse the design jobs section.  I saw a posting for a job as an assistant stylist.  It sounded amazing, but they didn’t reveal who the stylist was.  I had zero experience, but have always been a fast learner.  Somehow I got the job, amidst a sea of experienced applicants.  Good things do happen on Craigslist!!

EFM: What lessons have you learned by assisting fashion stylist Tiina Laakkonen?

BM: I guess the more appropriate question would be what haven’t I learned from assisting Tiina.  She has taught me basically everything I know.  It is extremely important to trust your instincts and be totally confident.  As a stylist you are often put into a leadership role on a team.  People are looking to trust you, and you have to sell your vision, your ideas and inspire people.  It is not an easy job.  It is not just liking clothes, or liking fashion.  You are rarely able to do just anything you want on a shoot.  It is a team effort and you are under the constraints of the editors, the advertisers, the clients, the photographer, etc.  It is often about compromise, but you somehow have to maintain your vision. 

EFM: Do you think assisting an established fashion stylist is necessary; if so why?

BM: I think it is not only important, but essential.  Like I said before, styling is not just about someone liking fashion.  You need to learn the rules of the game, and appreciate how much work it is to do this job.  I think maybe years ago it was not necessarily always the way it worked. But now there are many people who want to make it as a stylist.  I think it important to pay your dues.  If I had the opportunity to assist Grace or Camilla, or Alex White, Katie Grand, Panos Yiapanis, Nicoletta…. You better believe I would do it, even after so much experience.  You can never learn enough.

EFM: You also interned for designer Zac Posen; what was the experience like?

BM: Long, grueling hours…..  but I probably learned more there in that studio than in design school.

EFM: When on location, what do you carry in your kit?

BM: Always the usual in my prop kit, double stick tape, clamps, sewing supplies, everything.  I have the heaviest prop kit ever.  In addition I always have a generous supply of Mokuba ribbons in every color, and black bondage tape always comes in handy!! 

EFM: Describe your personal style?

BM: I am playing so much with clothes on other people, that I keep my style pretty easy.  I wear a lot of Comme, Rick Owens,  Margiela.  I tend to be attracted to draped, deconstructed pieces that have something “off” about them.  I like artsy clothes, with that kind of Belgian aesthetic.  I also occasionally have a penchant for a tough Victoriana vibe, a la Ann Demeulemeester.  I definitely don’t dress for men. 

EFM: What would be your idea celebrity to style and why?

BM: I would have to say Tilda Swinton, but she definitely doesn’t need a stylist!!!  She is fearless, and wears designers I love.  Everyone else (with the exception of a few) look exactly the same, with a different Louboutin.  I think Catherine Keener could go there with fashion as well.  I would like to work with this type of real actress.  She definitely wouldn’t have to be the “next it girl” or anything, just someone fearless.  Who isn’t afraid of some “worst dressed” list bullshit.

EFM: Who is your favorite designer and why?

BM: I wish you wouldn’t make me answer this question! Here are my favorites: Rei Kawakubo, Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann, Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, Meadham Kirchhoff, and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin.  It would be hard to say that Rei wasn’t my favorite.  Why?  Because she is a genius, and the only true original.

EFM: What accessory can you not live without?

BM: A few years ago Tiina gave me an old Balenciaga bag, that is unrecognizably Balenciaga.  It is the most beautiful soft distressed leather.  I love most that no one can place the designer, just a great bag. 

EFM: Where do you see yourself in five years in the industry?

BM: Working as equal parts freelance stylist, consultant to designers, and having a few amazing celebrity clients.

EFM: What advice can you give to aspiring fashion stylists?

BM: I would say assist as much as you can, with different stylists, and to strive to be a great assistant first and foremost.  Learn your craft.  

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Interview by Rochell “E” James



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