Posts Tagged ‘student helping students’

Some Scrappy Artists

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
The Lantern Bearers – Maxfield Parish

Interview my stylish and paid stylist friend with me

Hanna decided at fourteen she was going to move to the city, as long as I moved too. I noncommittally agreed. I asked her why New York, she said, “I like fashion,” and that was it, that was all the reasoning she gave. She liked fashion. Many people have the same sort of instinct, we all grow up with an abstract impression that if you like to paint, write, sew, sing, you move to a city. It’s just what you do. I was much less compelled by this instinct than Hanna, but the years went by, she applied to colleges in NYC, and I casually followed suit. 

We ended up moving to opposite ends of Manhattan and I often wondered what she was up to thirty minutes away. In high school we’d have sleepovers on Friday nights, pizza and coke cans and movies. And every Saturday at 7am sharp she was up and looking through my closet, throwing together outfit after outfit. Some days she’d try to get me to try them on, I’d groan and pull myself from the covers. Some days we compromised; she’d try on the outfits as long as I opened at least one eyeball and muttered a score 1-10. The variations of outfits often decided my wardrobe for the week. A certain black t-shirt must be worn with the medium shade of jean skirt, not the light-wash, and it must be worn with a certain undershirt that would pop perfectly out at the collarbone, and I was not allowed to wear any matte black shoes with it, only the glossy black boots, and hair accessories was a lucky privilege, I could pick those out on my own. I didn’t give a lick what I wore, but Hanna was meticulous and passionate. I imagined her having the same routine with her college roommates now and the thought made me laugh. 

Two years later and I’ve watched her go from dressing me, a lowly recipient in comparison, to being paid to dress models and red-carpet attendees. Some random weekday I’ll see her posting about styling “so and so” for “so and so’s” shoot and I’ll swipe up, amazed that said “so and so” is actually someone with millions of instagram followers, working in partnership with a big name brand. 

Here is a brief part of our interview: 

“At what point did you realize you could do something with your hobby”

“I was taking fashion classes as soon as I got to school, learning about this designer and that designer. I spent so much time engraving the names in my head and the different season collections and this and that etc… I just assumed that these people were what you aimed for in fashion school, the Madonnas of fashion. But then I was like, how the **** am I supposed to get there and what if I never do… but styling people is its own art, you are wrapping someone in your knowledge, of who made what piece, what fabric, etc, not just your own taste, that’s when I realized it was a job, because it wasn’t about what I liked, like I wasn’t just like ‘Oh I’d put her in this top because I like the pattern’, it was, ‘let’s put her in this top because it references this one 89’ Spring show, where this pattern was paired with this color and heralded in the papers as the best combo of the time, let’s reference that in a cheeky way’… that isn’t about taste, or subjectivity, it is a job”

“So it wasn’t like you got a styling job handed to you on a silver platter to decide, it just seemed like a necessary course of action?”

“Totally, I didn’t bump into Anna Wintour and have her offer me an intern position. I realized I needed to look. You can’t wait around and hope you end up at the top of your profession, you have to first realize the worth of the lower level work. Styling isn’t low-level work, but I needed to start low-level obviously, low paid, low profile jobs”

“Still though, do you think you excelled because of your previous hobby/talent?”

“Oh definitely, high school girls, minus you, are a lot harder to style than real clients. In high school when I’d dress people, you say… I don’t know, Vera Wang, and they look at you with a blank expression. My little hobby and the way I liked clothes in high school made me feel much more of a resonance with work once I did start to be surrounded by people who spoke the same language as me. It wasn’t a struggle to know fashion in a way small-town people didn’t, but here, in New York, you learn a lot really fast. Your natural inclinations and ‘talent’ are half the struggle though, they’re what keep you ‘in the game’ so to speak, they keep you going back to the struggle, they keep you interested enough to push past the imposter syndrome and critical feedback.”

Nothing will make you feel more productive than a smoothie bowl and Union Square.

Olivia Sully is a Junior studying English Literature at New York University. Olivia spends most of her school and professional life writing and reading, but she likes to decompress with her paintings. 

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