When asked about her transition from a model to
becoming a fashion stylist; “It was a very slow
process”, says the former ELLE America Fashion
Director, Isabel Dupre.
was introduced gradually into the fashion
industry by a group of friends who were
photographers and stylists.
She gained experience by assisting with
one of her friends, who is a stylist.
Isabel then decided to move to the Miami
area for two years, working at a modeling agency
and working with her stylist friend.
Isabel was approached with the opportunity to
meet with people at ELLE Magazine for an
They asked her if she wanted to start as
an assistant, she responded “sure”.
Isabel worked at ELLE for 15 years;
first, as a Market Assistant Stylist.
“It flourished to assisting them more,
and then I began starting my own stories.”
Working for ELLE American for 15 years as a
fashion stylist/director and transmitting your
passion into a full-time freelance stylist can
be quite a transition.
After Isabel left ELLE five years ago,
she began to freelance.
“It's a lot different from magazine
life”, she says.
“With 'magazine life', it's like a 24hr
everyday job; you are always on the road, if not
you’re in an appointment, you never stop
You’re home at midnight and you get an
e-mail from the office, it never really stops.
With freelance you have some breaks and
when it's like a break then it's 'really' a
break and you go from one
client to another.
It's a lot less of a responsibility.
It seems that way,” says Isabel. “You do
a job and it's finished and you do another one.
Working for a magazine, it's like raising
You do the job from the beginning to the
With being a freelance
stylist, don't expect to have a daily routine.
“Every day is completely different,” says
“I really have no idea what tomorrow is
going to be.
When I'm shooting I leave early in the
morning, get to the studio, put the look
together and shoot.
If I'm not shooting, then it's shopping
If it's advertising, you go to all the
stores and you just shop like crazy for free”
“If it's editorial you go to the
showrooms and look at all the clothes.
Isabel draws her inspiration from various
“Every day is completely different.
depends on the job,” says Isabel.
“If I work on a fashion show, I would go
meet with the designer, talk about story ideas,
and if it's advertising, do mood boards for
It's a lot of things to do.
depends on what the job is.”
Theory.com came up with an idea of having 8 to
10 stylists to create looks for their online
“I think it is a great idea,” says
“Every stylist has a different eye on
putting clothing together differently.”
Isabel work on a regular basis with clients;
InStyle Magazine and Marie Clare.
And her recent client is the new designer
Jeffrey Monteiro for Bill Blass.
“We did a presentation for the Resort and
now we're working on the fashion show for Fall
Isabel says this will be a fascinating
I love shopping and I'm obsessed with it, says
“You travel a lot.
I like the fact that you meet a lot of
new people from all over the world.
It's a great social job.
Not like going to the office seeing the
same 15 people every day.”
Working in the fashion industry for more than 15
years; one may ask, what are the lessons they
“Not to care too much about how you look.
“I learned that beauty is not just a
I could work with the most beautiful girl
and find her absolutely dead and not interesting
and not beautiful, and then meet somebody who's
not like perfect.”
Isabel says that she learned to not judge
on the upper end.
“It's so weird because working with these
beautiful girls you would think that you would
become obsessed with beauty, but it's like the
Isabel says that she got lucky when she started
as a fashion stylist.
“It wasn't so many fashion stylists and
it was sort of the beginning of people starting
to realize what it was.
You were able to keep your job for a very
long time and keep your clients for a very long
time and now I feel like it's just a society of
'I used you and I want something new'.
So it's very hard to make a 'name'.
It's the same for the models.”
Isabel gives an example; “Why did Cindy
become so important, because they started at
Now you see these amazing beautiful
girls, she’s successful, and then for the next
job they say, 'uh we’ve seen her before we want
So it's very hard to make a name for
yourself because most people don't let you grow
and show what you can do.
The more you work, the more you learn,
and the better you become.
There are more people out there, no one
wants to 'assist' anymore, and more girls want
to be a stylist after six months.”
Isabel says that it's kind of shocking to
her when she began to look for an assistant;
girls would say to her that, ‘no I really want
to become a stylist fast’.
It took her four years to become a
stylist and that is how she learned.
“Everybody wants to do everything fast”,
She adds; “I think people don't realize the
importance of 'experience'.
It's like, if I have one thing to say.
The key to be able to assist somebody
that you can learn from, assist as long as you
can, because you learn how to deal with the
It's important to watch the stylist that
People will give you a chance but not
I think that assisting is like going to
If you're like one of those people who
doesn't like assisting and start doing your own
thing; unless you're like exceptionally talented
and lucky because it's a lot of luck in
'It's not the best way.'
Why do you think that it's so hard to work for a
fashion magazine; some magazines hire 'in
“A fashion magazine becomes your family,
you don't have a life.”
Isabel gives an example:
“Oh I'm getting married on Saturday.
Sorry, you need to cancel your wedding
because we're shooting Beyonce` for the cover.
And that's how it is.
The magazine comes first.
It's like an Army.
Your family becomes 'second'.
You need to be very devoted and ready to
work like crazy.”
With so many aspiring fashion stylists, some
would die to have a chance to work at one of the
top fashion magazines.
But how difficult can it be?
“It depends,” says Isabel.
“When you work at a fashion magazine, if
you're a working stylist, advertising, and
consulting you will need to find a magazine that
will let you do that, because a lot of magazines
don't allow you to do freelance.
If you work under a contract it will
allow you to work on other freelance jobs.”
Isabel adds; with the way the economy is
going the fashion magazines can't afford big
contracts, so they are hiring freelance. “It's
hard to get in as a stylist in a magazine now.”
Isabel gives her advice to the aspiring fashion
“Always put your suitcase on your bed.
That was the first advice someone gave to
Isabel said to me, never pack with your suitcase
on the floor.
“You carry so many trunks and so many bags; if
you don't take care of yourself and be careful
you'll break your back.
It's a very physical job and when I see
those young stylist carrying trunks bigger than
them with 'high heels' on, I look at them and
I'm like, you're not going to be a long carrier
because your back is going to break.
Physically take care of yourself, go to
Isabel adds that she had to have knee
surgery, she guesses, because of the high heels
she was wearing.
She couldn't work for three weeks.
“Always look at the fashion shows, read
everything about fashion.
It's like you almost need to be in that
circle, if not, it's like not going to school
for six months.
When people ask you what's the new pants,
you should be able to answer them right away.
You need to be an expert in fashion.
I think that it's very important during
fashion week to follow what's happening at the