“Just take every opportunity that is presented to you and you never know what that door could lead to. Be courteous to everyone because you never know who will end up supporting you in the long run. Constantly work on what you love, even if you are just taking photos for yourself,” says American Vogue Contributor; Kathryn Neale Shaffer.

I am very delighted to have had the opportunity to interview; Fashion Stylist and Contributing Editor of American Vogue; It is important for me to write about individuals, who we mostly just see their work, but can’t put a face or even a name to them.  Kathryn Neale is one who is working behind the scenes; as I would say ‘controlling the strings’.

In previous years, before she was married to Samuel Shaffer (Stepson of Anna Wintour), Kathryn Neale’s career started at the age of 18 as a model, being represented by Ford Modeling Agency.  “I was shopping with my sister at a leather store in Wellington, New Zealand, when an agent approached me. Ford invited me to come to New York when they saw my first photos.” 

Kathryn made an easy transition from modeling to becoming a recognized fashion stylist. “After modeling in Europe I came back to New York and began to go to night school part-time at FIT. A friend of mine started a magazine and I quit modeling to work for her. My first role was really as an office assistant, but I quickly gravitated towards the fashion shoots where my previous knowledge as a model was really helpful. I quickly began to put together a portfolio of editorial images for my book.” She continues: “It was an interesting transition. It was very empowering to finally be included in the decision making process. To get to call the shots and come up with my own ideals was very fulfilling, after being a passive member of the team for so long.”

Proceeding to a market position at American Vogue with Managing Editor Laurie Jones; “She asked me if I had any experience styling and I showed her my book. They gave me an opportunity to shoot a few stories and then gave me a freelancer’s contract.”  Kathryn continues to shoot for American Vogue for two years now, “it is quite possibly the best job in the world, in my opinion”, says Kathryn.

Starting out as a model and styling for the world’s number one fashion magazine; I asked her what is the best thing that she loves about her job; She replies; “Being a stylist really allows you to get creative and its always challenging to come up with new ideals, re-imaging how somebody should be shot and try to execute the picture in your head into a photo.”

Kathryn has worked full time as a fashion stylist for four years; she thinks that being a fashion stylist today; “it’s no harder today than it was 10 years ago; you just have to really want to do it.”  Kathryn is not currently represented by an agent at this time, but says that she does need one.  “I style a lot of fashion shows and my schedule is always pretty hectic.”  She adds; “I constantly double book myself.”

 What Kathryn looks for in an assistant? “Someone who can do the work quietly and efficiently,” she also adds; “I expect them to offer an opinion only when I ask for one.”

Kathryn describes her personal style as pretty eclectic.  She says; “Being from New Zealand, I am less preened and polished than most American Editors; definitely less preppy.  My look is much more raw, more like something that just blew in the door.”

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