Tag Archives: Fashion Stylist

[FASH 54A] – A Little History of Fashion Styling

History was my concentration in college for my degree which is why I love to read and research.  Fashion styling is a somewhat new career title which made me very curious to research the history of it and find out how it all began.  Here’s the synopsis of my Powerpoint lecture from class:

The History of Fashion Styling:

The first stylists were editors who worked exclusively for fashion magazines. They “edit” the clothing and fashion pages, and they chose the designers to be featured in the magazine. Under the direction of the editor, there was the photographer and model. It was not uncommon in the 60s for models to do their own hair and make-up, as well as provide their own accessories for photo shoots.

It was during the 80s the first freelance stylists appeared. New magazines appeared which did not have a permanent fashion staff, which gave freelance stylists the chance to showcase their talents without being tied to one magazine.

Ray Petri:

Ray Petri is thought by MANY to be the first stylist. He was well known in the 80s for his Buffalo style, an eclectic mix of urban, ethnic, sportswear, and high fashion. He used real people in photos instead of models and people of mixed race. He oversaw and did everything on the creation of a photo, except take the actual picture!

“Petri was a fashion stylist long before this was a coveted job description. Indeed, in the early 80s, selecting and arranging clothes on models was still known, if it was known at all, as ‘fashion editing’, but he was an instinctive stylist, using his visual flair and magpie intelligence to produce elegant, unfussy and invariably sensual images of timeless modernity.” 

The Observer, September 2000

Unlike stylists of today Petri did not live long enough to become rich, or even celebrated, the way we idolize those today. But his influence is still felt and he even 20 years after his death he is STILL regarded as the king! There was a time when stylists were all but invisible to the world beyond fashion’s inner circle. But a growing shift in the fashion industry has given license to a special breed of visionaries, who are not only the interpreters of fashion but oftentimes the originators.

(research sources – Styling by McAssey and Buckley, Stylists by Katie Barron)

[FASH 54A]: Top Fashion Stylists

When asked to name a fashion stylist they admire a large majority of us say Rachel Zoe, and it’s not necessarily because they admire her only because they have heard of her.  She has in fact popularized the profession with her TV show and styling of red carpet celebs, but did you know there are many others out there whose work you’ve seen over and over again and just never really paid attention to who styled that look?

My students were assigned  a paper on a fashion stylist they truly admire and why.  This was to get them to open their eyes to the fact that Rachel Zoe isn’t the only name in the game, and once you compare her to others you begin to recognize what a one trick pony she is.  She has one aesthetic and sticks to hit – constantly!  I guess if it aint’ broke don’t fix it, but as a stylist whose job description is to inspire individuals on what they CAN do; sticking to one look can get very boring, very fast.

Here are the top stylists my students wrote about in order of popularity:

Grace Coddington – no surprise here, she’s amazing!

Creative Director for American Vogue. Top Model in the 60s. Became a British Vogue editor in 1969, came to NYC in 1987 to become a Design Director with Calvin Klein, followed by joining American Vogue in 1988, the same day that Anna Wintour, who gave her the job started.

Anna Dello Russo - a fashion maverick!

Studied art history in Milan, completed an MA in fashion before becoming an Accessories Editor at Vogue. In 2000 she became EIC of L’Uomo Vogue for six years before venturing off to where she is today, Editor-at-Large of Vogue Nippon, and a fashion consultant.

(I decided it was more fun to post photos of ADR, than her work!)

Giovanna Battaglia – my FAVORITE!!!!

Former model with Dolce and Gabbana, now an Editor at L’Uomo Vogue, a Contributing Editor at W, and freelance stylist.  She can do no wrong in my eyes and her personal style is off the charts!

Nicola Formichetti - where would Lady Gaga be without him!

A fashion collaborator for Lady Gaga, the Creative Director for Thierry Mugler, and Contributing Fashion Editor for V Magazine, Dazed & Confused, and Vogue Homme Japan.

Edward Enninful – brought new life into W’s editorials!

Became the youngest ever Fashion Director at 18 with i-D Magazine. Former Editor to Italian Vogue, spearheaded the “all black” Italian issue. Currently the Fashion and Style Director at W.

Katie Grand – a true stylist in every sense of the word!

Studied at Central St. Martins, and began styling for Dazed & Confused in the 90s when the magazine was still new. Became the Fashion Director of The Face magazine and later the Editor-in-Chief of POP magazine. She has styled numerous photo shoots and shows.

I’m quite proud of my students and this list they came up with, grant it there were many more stylists listed such as Judy Blame, Melanie Ward, Camille Bidault-Waddington, even Brad Goreski, but these were the top six amongst a class of 60 students.  This list is a recognition of those who inspire us in fashion with what we can do and not what we should do.

(images via various sites)

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