STYLE POWER: THE INFLUENCE OF THE SUPER STYLISTS
Updated: May 6, 2020
From New York, London, Milan and Paris, show after show, we tend to see the person (or people) who would traditionally come out to the runway and bow to the audience, the creative directors. They receive praises and tons of What-The-Fucks based on the collection they present.
But are they really the only one in charge of each collection? Well, not really.
Designers and fashion houses tend to hire stylists who would work hand-in hand with the designers in the creative aspect of the collection, to put together each look, even to an extent of creating the whole atmosphere of each fashion show.
That seems like a pretty influential position. Well, because it is. These super stylists truly helped create the whole universe of a brand, just from a collection. They even have a signature style that somehow is recognizable just by seeing the first model walking on the runway.
Who are these forces?
Carine Roitfeld is one of them. She is probably the most globally known super stylist. She has been doing it since forever, working as a stylist and muse for Tom Ford at Gucci, she played a crucial role in turning the house into a prominent luxury label. She then became Editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, before resigning in 2010. Her style is somewhat iconic.She often referred as the pioneer of the Porno Chic; a depiction of sexual rites through a combination of art and glamour (remember that G on the pussy campaign ad? no? google it yoself).
[Left: Carine Roitfeld for CR Fashion Book. Right: Gucci 2010 campaign styled by Carine Roitfeld]
Carine wasn't really cleared out of trouble though. She and her whole Vogue Paris team was apparently banned from Balenciaga back in 2012. She did consult for Italian house Max Mara, She allegedly asked Balenciaga for samples for an editorial shoot, and one of the coats ended up at Max Mara's design studio where it was copied and then sent back to Paris. Naughty Carine..
[Max Mara Fall/Winter 2017-18 show in Milan, styled by Carine Roitfeld]
After 10 years at the magazine, her departure was controversial. However, her style truly outlived her Vogue Paris career. She became a street-style icon and even created a collection with the Japanese giant Uniqlo. This is a woman who has a stye, bottle it up, put her name on it, and fucking sell it.
Another super stylist by the name of Emmanuelle Alt is the one who happened to replace Carine at French Vogue. Much more reserved as a person, not a dressed-up doll kind of fashion editor. She has a 'cool' tomboy-esque style that -despite not being seen so much on fashion people's instagram feed- is recognizable through designer collections that alot of people love. Yep, she was the lady behind Isabel Marant and Balmain.
Aside from being the fashion director of under Carine's editorship, Emmanuelle's side job was actually styling for Isabel Marant and pre-Kardashian Balmain under Christophe Decarnin. Her effortlessly cool style was apparent throughout the whole seasons at these brands. She had to give up this job since appointed as the Editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris replacing Carine Roitfeld.
[Left: Isabel Marant spring/summer 2011. Right: Balmain spring/summer 2011.]
Sidenote, Emmanuelle's husband Franck Durand actually runs a creative agency Atelier Franck Durand, whose clients are big designer brands and yes, among them are Balmain and Isabel Marant. So he is still well on their payroll...
Not all super stylists have the same traditional role. On an interview with Derek Blasberg for Vanity Fair, London-based super stylist Katie Grand revealed that she work on designing the clothes, choosing the fabrics, working on shoes and bags and accessories. Basically, all aspects of clothing.
Katie does have a permanent job as the editor of LOVE magazine. She works for various projects from editorials, runways, to campaigns from major fashion houses like Prada and Bottega Venetta. Word on the street is that her fee is ultra expensive that they call her "Katie Grand a Minute". Well, with earnings of $6,000 a day- reportedly- she surely is living a Grand life!
She is currently being one of the contenders to replace Alexandra Schuman at British Vogue. We'll stay tuned.
Katie might be the go-to super stylists for major established houses. But there is also another super stylist who is known to champion the underground fashion scene. Her name is Lotta Volkova, a Russian girl who is the rising star of the new Parisian fashion scene.
Her collaboration with Demna Gvasalia caught the world's attention, and probably what takes her into prominence. Demna, who heads a collective of designers behind Vetements, work alongside Lotta where season after season they present collections that spark a social media frenzy and a WTF fiesta (245 €DHL t-shirt anyone?)
Vetements is well-known to stage fashion shows in the most unusual places (such as the Parisian sex club Le Depot -eww), and street casting for models. Apparently Lotta is pretty much hands-on behind all of this. She said that she was present at every meetings, choose the right music and space, she even once walked the show as the opening. Now that is a major trust and responsibility!
Today, with Demna Gvasalia's appointment as the creative director for Balenciaga, Lotta continues her ollaboration with him and also present as his stylist for the historic Parisian house, an even bigger deal.
[Left: Lotta Volkova. Right: Balenciaga campaign styled by Lotta Volkova]
Lotta, Carine, Emmanuelle and Katie all come from various backgrounds, they all have different approach to styling and clearly different extent on how they want to work with designers. These women have helped elevate some of the biggest creative directors we know today. Their work fascinates me, though I am sure there are plenty of other super stylists I did not mention but you have Google and the internet for that.
It is clear that the role of these super stylists are so huge that these designers (or creative directors - whatever you wanna call it) would most likely be in deep shit without them. The role of a creative director is to decide which direction their collection is going, but these stylists are the ones who took the direction and really execute it.
So without a doubt, these people might be the ones to watch. Wherever they go, or whatever position they take in, they might make magic without necessarily having their name on the marquee.