Sep 13, 2019 | By Athena Chen
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The role of a stylist is an interesting one, with many hats. Dressing models, calling in clothes, getting to pretend for a day that the beautiful Dior dress is yours, and getting the ultimate cardio from lugging garment bags around town.
Freelance fashion stylist Laura Martin has worked in London, New York, Los Angeles and Ibiza with everyone from Iggy Azalea to brands like: H&M and L’Oreal. Here she offers up her tips for aspiring stylists on the realities of the job.
1. You will become a walking fashion reference book
Depending on the shoot, once you get the brief through you will start with a detailed scrolling of Vogue Runway (formerly style.com) and look books. Then you will spend hours and sometimes whole days emailing back and forth with dozens of designers, PR companies and showroom coordinators, trying to track down and secure the loaning of the clothes that best fit your vision. Most of the ones you want won’t be available, so then you’ve got to start pursuing Plan B. Of course, you can’t forget the hats, sunglasses, jewellery, handbags, hosiery and shoes. That involves more emails, showroom visits and dips into stores all over town, because you’ll want lots and lots of options.
2. You have to be super organised and you definitely don’t need a gym membership.
‘Someone’ (usually that means you) has got to get all the clothing and accessories into one place. That means running across town doing pickups, asking brands to provide courier services, and praying your interns and assistants (when you’re fortunate enough to have them) don’t get lost with 100’s of pounds worth of designer gowns thrown over their backs.
3. You get good at hugs ..
Your number 1 duty is MODEL MAINTENANCE. The model’s wellbeing is your responsibility, because you’re not getting the shot if she’s not happy or warm! (Prepare for lots of apologetic bear hugs during shoots in the winter months ). Always bring a hot water bottle, warm parka and a pair of UGGs.
4. You’ll think nothing of being surrounded by models in a nude thong or pants
It will become second nature, and sometimes you’ll even be on set helping the make-up artist apply fake tan to a swimwear model.
5.Customisation is key
As I said in point 3 you want a happy model and/or A-lister on set. So that can mean when the clothes are not designer, you have to cut out the label and tell them it’s vintage. Or when shoes don’t fit, cutting the back of the shoe: samples come in set sizes, not helpful when the size doesn’t match. I also used a woman’s coat on a male model once, but that’s getting easier to do now thanks to the rise of gender-neutral clothing.
6.You’ll be able to pack a suitcase like Mary Poppins.
You will fit more in it than should be humanly possible. And yes, you’ll have to sit on it/lie on it so it shuts, but you will make it close.
7. You’ll build up a magical prop kit over time.
A good stylist always has tape, needle and thread, pins, clips and chicken fillets. You are required to think on your feet so having a good prop kit is vital, especially when you’re required to sew an A-lister into an outfit.
8.When it comes to overseas shoots – your luggage will always be overweight
Fact: stylists need a lot of options, even if you know the model/client well you need a lot of clothes and accessories to make sure everyone is happy and has options on shoot day. This means one big case isn’t enough ( you dream of being as chic and lightweight as the image above).
9.You’ll make friends with photographers
Over time you’ll find your fave photographers, and you’ll know that they will create the perfect shot on the day. You won’t even need words to communicate on the day, you’ll have worked together so many times, that you’ll just know.
10.You’ll love the final images.
Seeing your shoot in your favourite glossy or in a look book, you’ll remember why you wouldn’t want to do anything else.
Follow Laura on Instagram here.
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