Last week we met up with the brilliant Micaela Erlanger, Celebrity Fashion Stylist and author of How to Accessorize: A Perfect Finish to Every Outfit (2018) who gave us a glimpse into her world as one of the most powerful stylists in Hollywood.
Growing up as a New York native, Micaela Erlanger was inspired by the energy of the city streets and prepared to follow her passion for design and styling. She graduated in Design and Management at Parsons School of Design and within a mere two years, she opened a studio, moved to Los Angeles, and with a team of assistants she began to style clients like Lupita Nyong’o, Meryl Streep, and Common under her own name.
So what’s it like to be a celebrity stylist?
Today, stylists relationships have changed within the industry. The role of a stylist is all encompassing. These days, stylist curate lookbooks for brands, national print campaigns, editorial, runway shows, consulting for brands and designers, styling beauty campaigns, music videos, and street wear promos. It’s all about collaborative work and sharing style secrets. Sharing style secrets is sharing knowledge and sharing knowledge is power.
“Being a stylist is like being an Image Architect,” she says, “We sculpt an image by creating a personal brand that naturally becomes a public persona – the image we create sends a message that can be both very powerful and transformative.” In her practice, she stresses that authenticity is the foundation of every image. When she works her magic, the client’s personal image is polished and elevated – always a true extension of who they are.
How does a celebrity stylist work with clients?
When getting to know new clients, it necessary to ask new clients about their preferences. Discovering what they don’t like, is just as important as finding pieces that they love. Conversations with clients are intimate as styling requires trust and natural synergy to get acquainted with a celebrity figure on a personal level. Micaela cautions that styling is an intuitive art form that requires strong, interpersonal communication. “Try to guide them, never force them.” You have to know how to read a person, and when it’s appropriate to push the envelope in the art of persuasion.
Her second tip? Confidence is key; always be excited about the pieces you bring to the table and stand behind your suggestions first is her goto recommendation.
It’s a stylist’s responsibility to provide better solutions or provide a reason as to why a specific look might not work for an occasion. If you criticize without providing a better solution, you lose that positive, persuasive outlook. That being said, Micaela expressed how much she loves to select pieces off the runway from emerging designers to push the envelope and style in new designers (which we love at Nineteenth Amendment, of course!). “Fashion is your personal expression to the world and style is the way in which you present it.” In any case,
She gave sound advice to the students who are just starting out in their fashion careers. Her first bit of advice was centered around fostering professional relationships and seeking opportunities for professional experience. Be friendly and introduce yourself; make sure to follow up if you’re seeking to make a connection with an employer or client. Also, she suggest, making a phone call – “Phone calls show initiative; make sure to prioritize your contacts and follow up three times. That’s it.” She recommends that everyone should put themselves out there, because there’s truly nothing to lose, except fear. The more you reach out the better you get at making connections.
How do politics play into styling?
Micaela insisted politics are certainly involved – every event has different parameters but designers add pressure if their brand has representative requirements. Plus real negotiation is required after a collection debut, since there’s only so many looks to go around. It’s imperative to avoid a Who Wore It Best moment at award shows.
Additionally, social issues like the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement set a precedent for the stars to follow suit – so whether the dress is limited to all black or all white, it’s rarely an issue. A stylist must remain flexible, resourceful and an active problem solver to be tuned to social movements for appropriateness.
Micaela mentioned how the #TimesUp movement (at the award show), it was a decision made by the celebrities and sometimes she’s the last to find out about the dress code commitment.
By wearing all black the message was, ‘I’m standing here in solidarity to make a unified statement and support the movement.’ This was not an all-eyes-on-me style-moment. It’s important to read the audience as well as the client to make the right call for the look.
When asked what the most challenging aspect of her job was, Micaela mentioned that the hours can be brutal unless you are fashion obsessed, love working with others and business savvy. Learning and perfecting your craft takes time and internship’s are your friend to teach experiences that reach beyond the classroom.
Want more Micaela and more styling?
Follow Miceala’s styling journey on Instagram.
Want to join celebrity stylists like Micaela in making their lives easier? If you’re a stylist, or want to be one, learn more about our Stylists Closet and send us an email!
Interview observed and written by Paige Goodings at Creative Careers Parsons.
Photo via @micaelaerlanger Instagram.