One Week As a Fashion Stylist... Assistant
When opportunity knocks, I listen. My friend David who I've known since grandmother was a girl recently asked me if I'd work with him on an important styling project. Being the entrepreneur and lover of fashion that I am, I was game! David and I went to college together back in the DMV and were roommates when we moved to NYC. David is a fashion stylist and consultant and has been working between New York, California, and Atlanta on several TV and film projects. He was recently summoned back to New York from a project in Atlanta to do an internal lookbook for Stuart Weitzman and who did he tap to be his right hand...ME!
The call went something like this:
David: Hey Ri
Sirita: Hey boo, what's t?
David: Girl, I know you're building EstroHaze and got a lot going on but could you use an extra coin? I have a styling project that I need an assistant on.
Sirita: Could a girl use an extra coin? Bish where, when? I'm there!
The rest is history!
When I was pursuing my undergraduate degree I dreamed of being a fashion stylist. I was inspired by the clothes in magazines and movies. By the time I transitioned to NYC and finished my internship for Vibe magazine I was no longer interested in styling full-time. I began writing about fashion, beauty, culture and style and interviewing some of the players in those spaces. I have always had a hand in styling though, whether is was visual merchandising for Lester's stores or selling luxury handbags and shoes to store buyers for Melanie Dizon.
Shop til You Drop
There is so much prep work that goes into styling. Seeing that Stuart Weitzman is a shoe brand, the clothes pulled for the shoot had to be not only stylish and cool, but, more importantly they had to be non descript so that the focus stayed on the shoes. The internal look book serves the Stuart Weitzman staff so they can educate potential buyers on how to style the seasons latest shoes. David and I spent around 3.5 days just sourcing looks for the models which represented two distinct demographics of the Stuart Weitzman's consumer base. One model was targeting a younger, tech savvier girl, while the other was for a older, more sophisticated and chic woman.
We ran all around the town!
From Zara and Ann Taylor to Rebecca Minkoff and Old Navy. We went everywhere. At the end of each "window shopping" day I would upload all the images from each store and send over to David, along with a total price from each store. He used this info for budgeting and to shape the final mood board that would be presented to the client for approval prior to the shoot. After the final approval David and I would then go out and shop the looks. It's important to note, aspiring stylist should have some sort of working capital. Almost every time you do a styling project you end up spending money upfront that will then be reimbursed from the company. Unless you get an advance and those on usually happen unless you have built a relationship with the brand. It was not uncommon for me to get home sometime well after midnight during this time. Most people think styling is all glamour, photoshoots and cute clothes - but it's hard work with plenty of heavy lifting. We made at least two stops to Bed Bath & Beyond to ensure the styling kits had everything they needed like: double sided tape, scissors, hangers, rolling racks, hand-held steamers, etc. Everything had to transported from midtown Manhattan to Harlem each day, as that was where our base was until the shoot day in a Brooklyn at the end of the week.
One of my favorite moments from the week was seeing the smart mirrors at Rebecca Minkoff. Please watch the video, my pal Lonnie who heads up events at the SOHO Rebecca Minkoff boutique did a demonstration on how the mirrors work, I was so impressed...whilst enjoying my glass of champagne! 🍾
When the shoot day finally came about I was so excited. Check out some behind the scenes of the final looks and David in action! I hadn't been in a Stuart Weitzman store in ages, in fact I thought the brand had gotten a bit stale tbh. Imagine my surprise when I saw the S/S18 styles we were shooting. This pic really doesn't give the shoes justice. But know that I am looking to cop at least 3 to 4 styles before the summer is over!
The shoot really went off without a hiccup. The day was long and I was steaming clothes to make sure all the wrinkles were out. The photographers and the entire crew were great. The kraft services were fantastic and David did an amazing job! I was a proud friend. But the job isn't over after the shoot! In fact over the next two and half days I was making returns. When you have over 10 stores you shopped - at times shopping the same store at different locations -- you have to be on top of your shit, especially with all the receipts and how you handle the merchandise. The shoot ended on time and David, myself and my partner *who showed up right on time - spent the next 3 hours organizing the items that were going to be returned. We were able to knock some returns, well one that evening and I was beat! Check out the video below. The video following is my boyfriend on a rolling rack inside of Lord & Taylor, he so graciously helped us as we struggled with navigating 500000000000000 bags back from the shoot. lol
All in all I had a great time, learned a lot and lost about 7lbs due to all the running around the city we did. David has grown so much in his profession over the years and I was glad to be able to take the supporting role in this project. I was even introduced to some of my new favorite stores including & Other Stories, COS and Massimo Dutti.