Every season of Fashion Forward holds a variety of relevant and inspiring industry talks in between shows and presentations and this season was no different.
The only difference, after six seasons held at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena, was that the fashion showcase moved to the mostly outdoor Hai D3 location.
In a conversation titled ‘Red Carpet Secrets,’ Alison Tay, the Editor of a highly respected weekly glossy, Grazia in the Middle East, interviewed Anita Patrickson, celebrity stylist, to get a real insider’s look at the celebrity stylist’s industry and lifestyle in LA.
To be successful in this field, Anita remarked, it’s key to never be unnerved and be prepared for anything. That’s the personality trait required on the job – to be soothing to your client in the midst of mayhem.
Starting with a simple question, the talk probed into the oodles of knowledge Anita reserves – with clients such as Ellen de Generes’ other half, Portia de Rossi, ‘The OC’ TV show veteran, actress Rachel Bilson, Emma Watson, Juliana Hough, nation’s sweetheart Chrissy Teigen. She has assisted Mario Testino, and worked campaigns for American megabrands such as Covergirl cosmetics, Nike, Target and TV hit series ‘The Vampire Diaries.’
South-African raised Anita landed in LA and got her big break with Conde Nast. It wasn’t like going to nursery before elementary school, she explained. It was like going straight into high school after getting off a plane.
With four assistants in Los Angeles and two in New York on her team, routine visits to multiple designers to keep a finger on the pulse, and five or six projects running concurrently at any given time, Patrickson has learned to keep pace with a stylist’s lifestyle. Here are some pointers from Anita:
1. Be nice to everyone
Practice manners, and go the extra mile. you never know where someone will be when.
Patrickson says she reads, no, really reads, every single email and replies as much as she can to everything. Sounds like a lost practice in Dubai?
Research people you may want to work with thoroughly, analyse how thou fit in with them and why, be prepared to justify yourself too. Why? Because in the noise of competition, it’s gentility and relationships which get you ahead.
2. Find a super talented seamstress/tailor
As part of her practical nitty gritty tips, she explains that any fine piece of fabric can look just okay or amazing with small alterations.
3. Stay calm in the midst of a storm
She shares her craziest moment on the job when a client’s dress ‘exploded’ just within half an hour of her having to appear on a globally televised red carpet event.
What did Patrickson do? Immediately jumped in her car, grabbed dental floss to stitch up the gaps in the seams, all the while singsonging and hypnotically reassuring her client like a mother would coo to a baby.
4. Always be on the look-out and be confident in your choices
It was not uncommon for Patrickson to spot a dress at a catwalk fashion show, stick around till the end, run backstage, grab the dress straight off a model, jump on a plane and hours later have her client wear the dress to a red carpet event.
Sounds like a marathon.
During fittings, she says conviction is key – confirm how this is the right dress for the right person.
A Dubai-based designer in the audience asked how could they get their clothes on the radar of a celebrity stylist.
This is a big remit of Middle East designers, – to get their works noticed and taken seriously, on the uptake to the rest of the world. Patrickson suggested looking to PRs or agents for stylists as more talents have agencies brokering their work.
So research who is on the books, who their clients are, and where there is a mutual fit.
Then contact the stylist with a well-informed letter introducing yourself and ask to have your clothes looked at for future work.
Organisations included Styleworks and Le Chambre @lechambrepr.
If you’re a student, lecturer, photographer, designer or blogger, be sure to check the FAD Academy Dubai out for their new offerings starting from May 2016.
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