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 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)