Now is an exciting time for me because a German music label has given me the opportunity to meet with one of their female recording artists to have talks about styling the musician for one of her upcoming promotional ventures.
One of my main motivations for entering the fashion industry and adding the ‘Styling’ string to my fashion bow, was because I have always believed in the deep, unshakable bond between music and fashion. I remember being a child and loving the music videos of artists like Blondie, Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson and even at the tender age of eight or so, I remember that it was these icons fashion sense as well as their music that had kept me enthralled.
Fast forward the years and due to my collaboration with Clash magazine, I had the opportunity to style some musicians. I will never forget the first band I styled, the experience threw me right into the deep end because the fashion editor of the magazine had instructed that I style the band using a colourful, circus theme. But here was the catch, the band hated colour and wanted to wear all-black. In the end, a compromise was made, but boy it wasn’t easy. Then as if to apologise for such a difficult entrance into musician styling, the next artist I styled was singer, VV Brown whose enthusiasm and genuine appreciation for my press pulls reminded me of why I wanted to style musicians.
Based on my experiences, here are my 5 tips for stylists when styling musicians-
1) Do your social media research– styling a model and styling a musician are two entirely different flavoured pies. At the most basic level, a model acts as a clothes hanger and is there essentially to sell the clothes you put him/her in, unless they are at Naomi Campbell level, they are there really to be seen and not heard. A musician on the other hand often wants ‘who they are as an artist’ essentially to be reflected in what you style them. This means that before you offer styling ideas to them, it is best to get an idea of who they are as artists. Luckily with social media tools like Facebook, Tape TV, Youtube et al, this is possible. For example, before I styled VV Brown, I watched a few of her music videos and interviews and a combination of this led me to know that she is an artist who likes to experiment with fashion and loves vintage/retro styles. And it was with this knowledge that I knew what to pull from press offices, high street and vintage stores.
2. Try and find out if the musician has a favourite designer or store– I find this particularly helpful because it gives me an idea on what type of apparel to pull for the musician and it also increases the chances of the musician liking your pulls. Remember musicians are not actresses, so if they don’t like what you have got for them to wear, not only will they not wear it (which means a lot of not happy press officers) but if they have to wear your pieces (due to lack of choice) and are not happy with it, this will lead to a none too pleasant photo shoot experience. With VV Brown, from doing my research I found out that she was designer’s, Ashish’s muse, so I pulled some pieces from his collection. And to make the shoot not look like an Ashish look book, I used the main themes from Ashish’s aesthetic which is clash of bold colours, print, textures and ethnic inspirations- to direct me into borrowing similar pieces from other designers.
3. You must have Patience and Thick Skin– styling musicians is not for everybody. Personally I believe the different facets of styling like look books, editorials, fashion shows, children styling et al, all take a different and certain kind of person, and before one chooses which sector they want to work in, they have to be sure they have the character and skills that will make them adept at the job. From my experience I would say styling musicians is not for the sensitive and faint-hearted. For example, I once styled a band where I had to wait for over an hour before the creative team was graced with their presence. The girl in the band had a particular way of how she wanted to look and scrutinised and complained about almost every piece of clothing I had brought for her. In fact one of my biggest disappointments from that shoot is that she adamantly refused to wear a particular dress I had got for her, I had such faith in this dress and my convictions were right as later on that week I saw Peaches Geldof wearing the same dress on the cover of Nylon (one of my favourite fashion magazines for when I want to pretend I am a trendy American teen). Back to the subject at hand, when dealing with the female musician, I took every criticism with a smile on my face and did not let her blatant disregard for my choices bring down the positivity of the shoot.
4. Network but know your boundaries– it can be hard knowing just how ‘chummy’ to get with musicians, especially when you really like them and their music. When this happens, you want to ‘carpe diem’ and all that jazz but you don’t want to appear all ‘Single White Female’. I find the best thing to do here is to follow their lead, if the artist is being particularly friendly, then reciprocate in kind but be aware that you have a job and a (probably) short time schedule to follow. If on the other hand, the musician likes to keep schtum, still find a way to create some meaningful rapport with the artist because this will increase the chances of the artists taking to your selection of clothes etc and hiring you again for another job.
On a side note, if by any chance the recording artist brings in their manager for the shoot, you would be best to ensure you network with them and give them your business card.
Have any of you styled a musician before? If so, do you have any tips to add to this list? What were your best experiences? Which were the ones you’d rather be hypnotized to forget?
All Images Styled By Me.