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EXCLUSIVE
STORY
BY ROCHELL "E"
Fashion Stylist

MIA MORGAN

 - I read about how you've been in business for 7 years.

"No, about 10 years.  I don't know where they came up with that number.”

- So can you tell me a little bit about how you became a fashion stylist?

“I went to school for fashion design and at the time I thought I wanted to be a designer. I moved to New York and worked in various parts of the fashion industry, I was attending film school at SVA.  I started to work on movies as a costume designer. It was when I became a costume designer that I really learned about being a stylist, so I started doing styling projects in between my costume design work.

- Wow.

“It just sort of all made sense at that point.  I worked in various parts of the industry that led me to really understand how to do this job and having the film experience was really instrumental as well. I learned a lot being a costume designer.  I brought the film experience to my styling work."

- What made you choose that career, when you finally decided that fashion stylist was your niche.  How did you come about your business as a fashion stylist?

" Once I learned about it, I realized I had the perfect skills and personality. When I started styling, which I kind of fell into it in a way through my fashion experience, it felt like the right thing to do”.

- Yea right, becoming a fashion stylist can be quite challenging at times, so how did you advertise yourself in order to get your clients?  

"Well, I started by word of mouth.  I had a friend who was a stylist and I was assisting her and started building my book on the side.  Then, after I got a book filled, I got an agent and they opened doors for me as well."

- With the economy as it is, do you feel it is hard to work in this field or do you find that it’s not affecting your business?

"I definitely have seen a difference in the industry since the economy has changed, although a lot of my clients are pretty solid so I guess I’m lucky that I have a lot of clients that are still shooting regularly." 

- Oh okay.  So can you tell me some of the celebrities that you have worked with?

“Sure, Nicole Kidman, Beyonce’, Halley Berry, Penelope Cruz, John Travolta."

- Can you walk me through the process of a fashion shoot?  

"Well they are all different depending on the job. If you’re talking about a fashion editorial, I work with the photographer and come up with a concept for the shoot, and then I do research with my team come up with the storyboard for the shoot and how it’s going to look.  We’re researching all the designers to find clothing that the designers have that fit into our photo shoot. Then we contact the designer and coordinate getting the clothes. 

When the clothes get here we do a run through and style everything out.  I also do a lot of that on the set.  We don’t figure everything out in advance.  A lot of that happens naturally during the shoot.  Things change and I also work closely with the photographer to figure out what outfit looks best with the location. I also work with the hair and makeup people to make sure that we are all on the same page with the vision for the shoot."

- I wanted to talk about when you said choosing the model.  Do you go to the agency and choose the model or how does that work?

"Normally a lot of times the photographer will come to me with 10 or 12, a package of models that we’re looking at and I will help them to narrow it down”.

- You’ve worked with many photographers.  One name pops up, Patrick Demarchelier; I cannot pronounce his last name for the world.  We laughed.  Demarchelier.  What was it like to collaborate with him?

"Well he’s just such a veteran in the field.  He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it.  He’s easy to work with on the set.  I don’t know, it’s hard to explain really. (She laughs)”.

- Who are your favorite fashion designers? 

"My favorite fashion designers are Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, and Matthew Williamson." 

- Oh okay.  I love Matthew Williamson.  I love his tailored look.

"Yea, he’s really great”.

- Can you describe your personal style?

"My personal style.  I like to mix designer pieces.  It’s definitely a mix of brands and price points.  I have a kind of a curvy figure so I like to accentuate my waist and I wear a lot of black because I live in New York.  I wear a lot of dresses and I have a great little leather jacket that I wear all the time.  So I guess I’m a little bit edgy, a little bit of rock-n-roll”. 

- When you started your fashion stylist career, did you make any mistakes in your career, if so, what did you learn from them?

"Mistakes? Hmm.  I’m sure I’ve made a lot.  I can’t think of any in particular right off the top of my head.  I don’t know that it was a mistake as far as hindsight you know, as far as lessons I’ve learned.  When I first started out and I was testing, I put a lot of effort into getting really, really great clothes but I didn’t research who I was working with that much and I didn’t get the kind of pictures back that I wanted with the kind of effort I was putting in. 

When I would work on a shoot, it takes us a week to prep something and everyone else would only take a day or two. I would put all this effort in using my contacts that I knew in the fashion industry and really putting all these amazing clothes together.  I would get these pictures back and I wouldn’t like the model, or wouldn’t like the hair and makeup, or the photography wasn’t quite right and I didn’t really want to use it in my book. 

I learned my lesson, but I don’t think it could have been any different at that time.  I didn’t have anything to show anybody.  I had to go through that process at that time.  I had a lot of contacts going into it so I could actually get great clothing."

- How do you obtain your contacts?  Is it hard to get your foot in over the years?

"Yes, before was a stylist, I worked in the fashion industry for 10 years, so I had built those contacts.  I have been working in fashion for many years. It takes a long time to get certain contacts to trust and respect you in the industry. If someone wants to become a stylist, it’s going to take a lot of patience." 

- Yes, that was my last question, so we can just jump to it.  What advice could you give upcoming fashion stylist?

"It takes a lot of patience.  Things don’t happen as quickly as you think they’re going to.  It requires a lot of skill so it’s important that you assist really great people so that you can learn how and why they do things the way they do.  It’s not just about putting together a great outfit.  There are so many different elements to being a great stylist."

- Right. 

"And a lot of that requires skill and contacts. That’s just something that takes time.  I think that the advice that I would give is that if people want to do it they have to be very persistent, and very patient and really build up credit too. You know we shop for a living that means you have to have good credit and you have to have buying power."

- Yes, because a few years ago when I lived in LA I went to Makeup Designory and they were just teaching us that being a fashion stylist is a business, and in order to succeed you will need great credit and to be able to charge on your own credit card.  So basically, it’s glamorous, but it’s a lot of business behind it as well.  So can you give any business advice as well as having great credit? 

"What I find often is that when a lot of young stylists come in they really have misinformation.  They need to acquire strong business skills because you are managing a lot of money, you’re managing your assistant, you’re managing working directly with your client and when you get to a real professional level you have to deal with them professionally”.

That’s great advice.  I’m glad you pointed that out about the business.  You have to be business minded in this industry.  Is there anyone that you would like to style that you haven’t had the opportunity yet?

"I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the best people in the industry and in Hollywood.  Are you talking about an actress?  Oh, in general, actresses, magazines. I’d like to style for Vogue.  I’ve styled for India Vogue, but I haven’t styled the other Vogues yet.  American Vogue, Italian Vogue  I like Kate Blanchett..  I’d like to style her."

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