Styling Stories: The Devil Wears The Row

My first day working for a mega-stylist in Los Angeles began with a 4:30 a.m. meeting in the dark parking lot behind her studio in Beverly Hills.  Said stylist had hired me as her second assistant per a recommendation from a very important publicist  friend. Earning a reputation of  an accomplished assistant in New York City speaks volumes in LA, where the average assistant is a 20-year old blonde from Calabasas who drives her mom's old BMW and can't find her way out of a paper bag. I was hired without so much as a phone call. 

I briefly (and coldly) shook hands with my new employer, and was ordered to stuff as many of the human-sized duffle bags of clothes and accessories into her Range Rover, and fit the rest in my Ford Focus. (By the end of my tenure in LA I was an expert in maximizing the interior space of that car) "Ok, maybe she's cranky because it's so early." (By the end of my tenure in LA, I would also learn that I was wrong, and this was usually her demeanor) 

As I frantically packed her SUV, a terrified young man pulled into the parking lot in his beat-up Jeep. It was her first assistant who had broken down on the 405 on his way, I watched in awkward silence as he went almost catatonic as she reamed him out. 

We headed to the shoot location, the stunning rose gardens at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, me chasing her Range Rover Sport and trying to follow my GPS at the same time (I swear she was trying to loose me, this became a pattern)

Typically, assistants are not consulted for their opinions by their bosses or the client, and are expected to be as silent and invisible as possible. The nervous assistant couldn't help himself, and chatted casually with our talent- Emma Stone, who was having a major fashion moment thanks to our chic bitch boss. I knew I would quickly eclipse him and become the first assistant when she sent him off-set on a wild goose chase for double stick tape (it was 6:30 a.m.) He arrived back to set around noon, tape-less. 

I saw the nervous assistant only once more, a week later, when I was instructed to busy myself by organizing sample shoes in the assistants' office while he was excused, and left in tears. 

"So, should we just say that you're going to be working here full-time now?"  

So commenced my first year of working in LA for one of the best, and most difficult stylist in Hollywood. 

Stay tuned for more Styling Stories... 


The Scent of an Old Flame

I have a very strong scent memory. Coco Mademoiselle still reminds me of the family cruise to the Bahamas in 10th grade, where I bought it duty-free in international waters. I still have that bottle (it's turned a little yellow, maybe it's time to re-purchase) There are a few scents that trigger moments in time for me, some of which I'd rather forget, some I fondly remember, and some I avoid whenever possible as to not induce myself with stress. 

Oil of Oregano WTF. My first messy foray into relationships, with an older grip/actor/hippie/30-something manboy who lived in Queens. He swore by the health promoting properties of pure oil of oregano, and once persuaded me to put one single drop under my tongue. Do not do this. Unless you're into tasting liquid fire. 

Bleu de Chanel During a liquor-fueled, post-wedding rampage in Vegas with my male cousins, I met a very handsome, very good-smelling British man. We spent one night together, and for that night, it was love. We closed down the club (quite a feat in Las Vegas), made out in front of slot machines, and then I shut the taxi door and sent him back to The Wynn (What a tease) We stayed in contact for quite a while, I swear there was a time that this guy bought a plane ticket and was planning on pulling up to my Hollywood apartment in a vintage Jaguar to profess his love. But then his wife probably found out. 

Gain Fabric Softener A dangerously common scent that often has me avoiding laundromats and aisles. A great love who's laundry was always so fresh and so clean clean. You know a man respects you when you lend him some socks and he returns them smelling like a crisp mountain stream. 


How to Break into Fashion

Be really, REALLY sure that you love it, because it ain't easy, it ain't (always) glamorous, and most fashion people are effing crazy.

Still want to work in fashion? Fine, but you've been warned. 

They say "It's all who you know" and I agree, but let me take that one step further- "It's all who you know to get yourself in the door, and what you can do to keep you in the door." I don't care who your father is, if you can't hack it, you won't last. How did I get my start?

Find yourself a Fairy Godfather 

As a sophomore in college in New York City, I was very fortunate to have a fairy godfather enter my life. Michael Bevins was a real estate client of my mother's, who is an extremely talented costume designer for theater and film. He also happened to be a pattern maker for The Row. I also happened to have been obsessed with the Olsens since Passport to Paris, and jumped at the opportunity when he asked if I would like to intern for The Row. It was a new operation at the time, only two seasons deep into the line, with a handful of employees, myself being the first intern. I worked in the tiny design studio in the garment district two days a week, for nothing but the experience. I wasn't being paid, but I did get to play with vintage Alaia, rare Balenciaga (a shearling coat that weighed more than Ashley), and attend meetings at the offices of Solbiati (manufacture of some of the finest fabrics in the world) amongst others. It was the golden era of Olsen style- the witchy, super tall Balenciaga boots that MK wore constantly, dozens of fur coats, and all the vintage Cartier jewelry. I got to see how a piece was produced from inspiration to fabric sourcing, pattern making, first draft samples, second draft samples, production, to market meetings with buyers. I learned about product licensing, design, and the chain of command (designer, technical designer, financial controller, pattern maker, sample maker, sales executive, etc...) It was exciting to hear stories from The Girls upon their return from Paris Fashion Week, and how Karl loved the fur capelet that Mary-Kate wore his cruise collection party. It was a bizarre parallel, as we were all excited 19-year olds basking in one's Karl Kompliment, but I was a broke college student, and they were billionaires. I absorbed every moment I could, and when it was time to part ways and finish up the school year, I knew I had achieved something really special, that I would one day write about in my book (as soon as I figure out how to get around all the non-disclosure agreements I've signed). 

Take a Risk and cold-email

A shot from a Hollywood Hills shoot with Emily Vancamp

A shot from a Hollywood Hills shoot with Emily Vancamp

So your foot is in the door, now what? 

In 2011, after six years of working in fashion and film in New York, I decided that I needed to move to Los Angeles, where big budget things were happening. I knew no one. I moved in with my gracious aunt and uncle in Newport Beach, and was quickly connected to a colleague of my uncle's, wife (sounds complicated, but you should mine contacts anyway that you can). She was the head of PR for Stella McCartney, and agreed to have lunch with me. Evidently she saw something in me, and asked me to make her a list of the celebrity stylists that I wanted to work with. She laughed when I opened my notebook and had already done this. She provided me with some email addresses, and I took it upon myself to cold-email each one. This is a very important skill to master if you want to work in the entertainment industry. You must make yourself sound smart, capable, eager (but not creepy), like you know what you're talking about, and are worth having around. A week later was my first day of work for Petra Flannery, on the set of a Revlon commercial starring Emma Stone. Petra hadn't even met me in advance, I spoke to her assistant briefly on the phone the night before, and met her for the first time in the dark parking lot of her Beverly Hills studio at 5am. We jammed her Range Rover full of racks and raced off to the rose gardens in Pasadena for the shoot. For three years I worked consistently between LA and New York, assisting several major stylists, and doing styling jobs on my own as I cultivated a network of fellow assistants, agents, and producers that I still rely on today. And boy do I have some good stories for it (stay tuned for that time Justin Timberlake high-fived me backstage at The Hollywood Palladium after the Grammys)

Find a mentor

Be fearless and reach out to people who you want to work with

Work harder than everyone else

Take what you've learned and do your own thing

I'm summarizing my complicated, hilarious, and terrifying journey (which I am still on, by the way) to hopefully provide you with some insight and inspiration if you too once watched The Rachel Zoe Project and thought "I want to do that!". I've glazed over the fact that most of the very successful 'fashion people' you will encounter, are unfortunately, bat-shit crazy, and generally unhappy. I've been burned more than I've been helped, which is why I feel compelled to let you know that it doesn't have to be that way- you CAN be nice and work in fashion and be a boss bitch- without being a bitch. Stay focused, stay centered, and never forget to treat people well, because people always remember how you treated them. One day, that assistant whom you snapped your fingers at in front of Robert Downey Jr., will have her own shit going on, and she will write a book, and she will tell that story. (Again, as soon as I hire legal counsel to navigate the NDA's that I've signed.)

If you'd like to know more about about how to get started in the fashion industry shoot me an email or comment down below!