Fashion styling is something I knew I wanted to do as a career since I was 13 years old. Ever since then, I’ve made decisions (starting this blog, going to fashion design school, styling my friends, creating my own company, interning, etc.) to set me up for success in this industry. Since I’ve been living in New York City, and working at a PR firm, I see stylists come in the showroom to pull several times a week. I’m also the one who gets cc-ed on their emails with the account executives and am asked to pull the looks they requested to pack and send to them for use. When I come across an African American stylist, I feel joyous seeing someone who looks like me doing exactly what I want to be doing.
So this post is for those of you who need that encouragement. Obviously you don’t have to be black to enjoy this. If you want to be a stylist, or are even remotely interested in fashion, this will be a great read! [Click Here to Read “These Are the Black Fashion Designers You Need to Keep on Your Radar]. Continue reading to learn about how these eight stylists got their start, who they’ve worked with, and what advice they have for those who want to be successful in this industry.
1. Solange Franklin
Solange Franklin is a New York based fashion editor and freelance stylist, but she didn’t always know she wanted to be in fashion. She started on the pre-med track and wanted to be a doctor, but her mind was more focused on how she could redesign her lab coat [Source]. Before getting to where she is today, she assisted Giovanna Battaglia for four years where she had the opportunity to work globally alongside the likes of Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh. She is now the current Fashion-Editor-at-Large for Paper Magazine.
A Word of Advice: “The best advice I can give to someone who wants to be a stylist is to save your money. Money management is essential.” -Solange Franklin
2. Mobolaji Dawodu
Mobolaji Dawodu is the fashion editor at GQ Style, and is also the costume designer behind the movie Queen of Katwe. He is known for his beautiful tailored garments with stunning #prints, that he gets tailor made in Africa and Asia [Source]. He attended LIM, a business fashion school in New York City, and then interned at a showroom, and assisted for a couple of years. Before GQ Style, he was a freelance stylist at Fader magazine for 11 years.
Word of Advice: “If you want to work at a major magazine, I hope you know someone. Real talk. But other than that, I think you should believe. Believe in yourself and keep going and don’t worry about what someone does. Worry about what you’re doing all the time.” -Mobolaji Dawodu
3. Matthew Henson
You may or may not know Matthew Henson, as A$AP Rocky’s go-to stylist, but before that, Henson got his start as an intern at Flaunt Magazine. He then got an opportunity to work at Complex Magazine as their Market Editor, which he did for 6 years. He styled everyone who was featured on the cover from Beyonce to Nick Jonas.
Word of Advice: “It’s going to take some hard work, you’re not going to make it easily and don’t try to cut corners, because it’s never going to work. But if you stay focused and work hard, then you will go somewhere.” -Matthew Henson
4. Charlie Brianna
At only 22, Charlie Brianna is a Los Angeles based up-and-coming stylist who has already worked with the likes of P. Diddy, Whitney Port, Chris Hemsworth, and Nicki Minaj. She does editorial styling as well as personal [Source]. Just a quick scroll through her LinkedIn and she has a phenomenal roster of clientele. Umm, goals!
Fun Fact: In 2010 Brianna launched her own line of sunglasses called Blindfold Eyewear, which is now in its third season.
5. Ian Bradley
Ian Bradley moved to the Big Apple to get his education at the Fashion Institute of Design (F.I.T.). Post graduation he assisted stylists such Sally Lyndley, Andre Walker, and Jay Massacret [Source]. In an interview with The Coveteur, he states “When I was in preschool, I would tell my teacher, ‘You look great, but you wore the wrong shoes with your dress,” which I think says it all. He now styles celebrities like Sky Ferreira, and works on editorials for magazines such as Fader, i-D, and Tidal [Source]. He is with a styling agency called Starworks Artists.
Words of Advice: “When it comes to editorial, you create your world with the photographer, hair and makeup team, and model—you can create characters. Whereas working with people you have to remember that’s a person and they already have their image. It’s a matter of decorating who they are instead of imposing on them.” -Ian Bradley
6. Fatima B.
Fatima B. is the stylist responsible for Nicki Minaj’s signature”barbie look” and Wiz Khalifa’s switch to a rebellious, modern, hippie style [Source]. She got her start interning for 50 cent’s stylist, as well as Missy Elliott’s. She currently works with a repertoire of artists and magazines.
Words of Advice: “Definitely intern, and get lots of experience. You have to be hungry! Don’t do it for the money or the glamour, because a lot of the job isn’t glamorous! It’s a tough business and for some people it takes 10 years, but you just have to motivate!” -Fatima B.
7. Beagy Zielinski
Beaty Zielinski is currently based in Munich, although she previously worked out of New York. A couple of years ago Glamour Magazine had a web series called “Dress to Kill,” a styling competition show in which she was on. This is how I came across her. Zielinski began her career as a fashion merchandiser, and then dabbled into design and product development before creating her own clothing atelier for stylists to pull from, L’Armoire Du. Right now she is the senior fashion stylist at high fashion retailer, Stylebop where she not only styles, but photographs, art directs, does the marketing, and social media for [Source].
Fun Fact: Zielinski was the costume designer for Tyra Banks on America’s Next Top Model Cycle 16.
8. Corey Stokes
After graduating from the University of Michigan-Flint, Corey Stokes began as a contributing writer for Complex Magazine which then led to him being fashion assistant, and then associate Market Editor. He is now the in-house stylist for Brooks Brothers (since 2014), and works freelance as a stylist for celebrities such as Kitty Cash, and fashion brands including Pyer Moss [Source].
Fun Fact: Stokes describes his style as “Diana Ross meets James Dean.” [Source]
Did you enjoy this post? Learn something new? Let me know in the comments below! Perhaps I can make this a series…