The fashion stylist occupation is a fairly new one which has been made popular by the likes of Patricia Field (stylist for Sex and the City), and Rachel Zoe (personal stylist to various celebrities). If you are not familiar with the responsibilities of a stylist, they consist of the following:
- Selecting the look for the project based on the client’s needs (it’s harder to dress someone else than yourself – keep this in mind)
- Coordinating hair and make-up for the shoot
- Finding hard-to-find pieces and creating balance
Stylists are hired by advertising agencies, modeling agencies, magazines, production companies, celebrities, photographers, and record companies for advertising campaigns, fashion shows, TV shows, commercials, catalogues, editorial work, model portfolio work, public appearances, concert performances, and music videos. Some make a living out of personal shopping services.
Fashion stylists are essential because they have an understanding of current and future fashion trends and are well connected when trying to find rare items. Depending on who you are working with, the stylist must sometimes choose the models and play the role of art director for the shoot. But this all depends on who you are working with.
According to Gail McInnes at Plutino Group, an artist management agency in Toronto, style influencers are in the spotlight now more than ever. “The general public is more aware of the career of a fashion stylist, but not everyone can do it – you need to have a natural sense of style, be personable and flexible.” What Ms. McInnes is saying is that a stylist can make magic from absolutely terrible pieces. That is what makes a good stylist.
Ottawa is a fairly small market, making fashion people scarce. It’s also very elementary – the monopoly does not want to be tampered with and once someone starts doing something, everyone wants in, like styling for example. The result is an unfortunate high school production of sorts. People with no knowledge of fashion and a lack of creativity are trying to make a name for themselves.
Two years ago in the early stages of Ottawa’s “booming” fashion scene, the amount of people that were allowed to bear the title of fashion/wardrobe stylist was a mere five. Nowadays, everyone is a stylist. People that claim to be “stylists” for X magazine in the city barge into stores and ask to borrow clothing for their photo shoot. Some stores will give them the clothes without asking for some credible evidence (portfolio, tear sheets, etc). Oh wait, these so-called stylists get angry when the rational store employee (sometimes) asks them who they are, as if the employee is supposed to know that. These same “stylists” are erecting websites promoting their “services” which include the ones I stated above. For some reason, I always thought you had to have credibility and a knack for styling before making false claims like that. Hell if these so called stylists hired an advertising agency to do their advertising and claimed they were a personal stylist, they would get sued. It’s the equivalent (in the world of exaggeration) of claiming that cigarettes don’t impose a health risk. Preposterous. Get over yourself, you’re not a stylist because you have no fashion sense. If you can dress yourself, props to you, it does not mean you have an understanding of putting something on someone else. That is a much harder task. You don’t believe me or think I am being harsh? Please analyze their work.
Unfortunately the good stylists in this city are limited to working with photographers that are not really fashion photographers, so their work is not recognized at its full potential. The entire clan of decent fashion photographer have left the city. The ones that are comfortably here are too arrogant to work with people that do good work and opt to work with those that have really bad portfolios. Why is that? Is it because the position is fairly new and no one can tell good styling from bad? Or is it because you don’t want someone to outshine you? The problem is that people here have low standards. If the city of Ottawa is about to move up in the fashion rankings, we need to start setting some standards. Not unattainable ones because the city can never compete with markets like Montreal and Toronto, but standards that actually give artists an opportunity and a reason to stay. When people think fashion in Ottawa, the following comes to mind:
– Mediocre models
– No boutiques or designers
– Fashion shows in clubs
– Catalogue work
– Lack of editorial work
– Lack of fashion schools and resources
Some of those stereotypes about Ottawa are true, some are changing. But even with new innovations like Dalhousie Street, a couple of decent fashion magazines, Ottawa Fashion Week, media attention and designer stores in the Rideau Centre, Ottawa is still a third-tier fashion city that produces poor work. People that claim they are fashion stylists and personal shoppers are preventing the city’s fashion scene from progressing because they produce inferior work. They are also reducing the credibility of fashion stylists who have worked hard on their portfolios filled with credible and respectable work with these claims.