One of the best moments of my life came out of sheer boredom; I was perusing Boston.com for something to do when I stumbled across a listing which said, “Fashion Branding, PR, and Fashion Installation Workshop” and thought it sounded interesting. After all, I had nothing better to do, right?
Well, that “interesting” listing literally changed my life because the workshop’s hostess turned out to be Crissy Ford-Leatham, a fashion stylist, fashion editor, and overall amazingly successful and wonderful woman who takes time out of her crazy schedule to help aspiring fashionistas learn the ropes and connect with each other, forming lasting relationships that lead to countless opportunities.
Read on to find out more about Crissy and to learn about how you can participate in her next workshop, taking place in just two days, on Wednesday, June 18th, from 7-9 PM at Oficio, located at 30 Newbury St in Boston, MA 02116!
EM: What is the typical day of a fashion stylist like and what do you like best and least about it?
CL: There are many elements to being a fashion stylist. You cannot show up thinking all you do is put clothes on models, actors, and actresses and then go home. There is a lot to accomplish when you show up to a set to shoot. Your planning for styling starts with creating a “shot sheet” and “mood board”; these two put together give you the idea of what is looking to be captured during that shoot. When I arrive at the location, which is determined by the photographer and/or creative director, the first thing I do is connect with my team and make sure everyone has arrived and is ready to go.
Then I will move onto hair and makeup to be sure that I answer all their final questions about the looks they will be preparing on the model. I pull the garments and accessories prior to the shoot, or sometimes the day of, so that means it’s game on to get the garments broken down by which model will be wearing them. I will put them on a rolling rack along with the model’s name tag so the model knows what looks she will be wearing.
Shooting the models is where the challenge comes in. Some models are new and this is their first job; however, as a stylist, it’s good to know this bit of information so you can schedule more time with that certain model. The creative director and the stylist will work with the client to help them capture the look.
If we’re working with seasoned models, we usually can get the shot we need and send them on their way. During the actual shooting time, I am on set to be sure the garments are not wrinkled, have stains, get in the way, show any hanging tags, or are simply disturbing to shoot. On top of that, you have hair and makeup on set, fixing and touching up the models so they have a fresh look. It would be awful to grab the best shot but hair and makeup were out of place; worst of all, Photoshop will not fix it the way you want. “Photoshop” is a limited term in my vocabulary!
Styling is all about finding the right beat to walk to and realizing that your beat can change at any moment. No editorial shoot that I have personally styled has gone exactly according to plan. I am OK with that, which is why I love styling. The hardest thing about styling is when you cannot use the garments you planned on or the model you were expecting to show up never did. These are real case scenarios and you must have real time answers. The answer is “make it happen” and “forget about the original plan”.
EM: What celebrities have you styled and who was your favorite?
CL: I have assisted in styling many red carpets; however, I worked on a shoot with Katherine Heigl and she proved to be the hardest to work with, yet the celebrity with the most fun back story I have ever had.
EM: Have you ever styled a plus size woman? If so, what were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
CL: I’ve styled my mother, and I found that it was not easy to shop for bigger sizes and find garments to accentuate her curves.
EM: Why do you think many designers don’t create plus size clothes?
CL: There are a few reasons. The most common is that they work on the standard size body when designing their garments. On the other hand, a model is hired to showcase the clothing in the best possible light without disturbing the garment itself; they look at the model in essence as a rack. With that being said, the garments are created to be long and very petite, sometimes not even fitting a model who is a size 0/2. It’s preference over product.
EM: Why did you create the “Models Against Bullying” campaign and what kind of responses have you gotten from it so far?
CL: I created the “Models Against Bullying” campaign to raise awareness of the effects of bullying, but also because I was bullied in middle/early high school and that carried on to a job I had here in Boston. The owner of the company I worked for would push me, scream at me, and degrade me. However, it made me stronger. I have never looked at myself as a victim, only as someone who has to overcome a challenge, which is exactly what I did. Bringing awareness to models who are or have been bullied shows that they are happy adults with lots of lessons learned and are now sharing their stories with the world. Bullying no longer consumes them and that’s what we want others to see. While bullying will end, your feelings of being bullied will still linger. I want a community where fashion professionals can come together and have a place where they can relate to others in all ways.
“Models Against Bullying” has spread to India, Japan, U.K, Italy, and, of course, right here in the U.S. The responses I have received are amazing! Year-round, I try to continue to help children of the Jordan Boys and Girls Club with support from our followers by sending school supplies at the beginning of the year and providing jackets for the children when winter is approaching. My next step is to raise funds through a silent auction to be able to send at least two children through their program.
EM: What kind of topics do you write about for Fashion Industry Magazine?
CL: I joined Fashion Industry Magazine because of the concept behind the publication. I cannot talk to many specifics with you as the first publication has not yet launched. I can tell you, however, that I cover a broad range of topics that relate back to the fashion industry.
EM: What will be Fashion Industry Magazine’s biggest point of difference?
CL: Since it hasn’t launched yet, I can only promise you that no one has launched a magazine such as Fashion Industry Magazine. Another crazy thing is that the name was available. How has not one person thought of “Fashion Industry Magazine” until now? Crazy! And true.
EM: Will Fashion Industry Magazine include plus size fashion? Why or why not?
CL: I will not be making that decision because it’s not my publication, so I cannot answer that question.
EM: As a fashion editor at Fashion Industry Magazine, what exactly will you be doing?
CL: What will I not be doing?! Every day is different but the deadlines never change. You must be willing to give up free time if you want to step into the world of fashion editing. Since digital media is so heavily integrated with print media, there is a lot to accomplish day-to-day as a fashion editor, but I work more as a fashion journalist. A few things that keep me pretty busy are editing, PR, events, social media, and also blogging; they all fall under an my role as an editor. I also interview celebrities, so that’s pretty cool.
EM: What do you like best and least about fashion editing?
CL: Writing is a passion of mine, so I love to explore and gain inspiration from a variety of areas in my life and combine them all to make sense. What becomes tedious is when I reread the same thing over and over and over just to make sure it’s ready for my editor. Taking a break is the hardest thing for me to do, not because I cannot take one but because I learn so much every day that I feel like I might miss the next big trend (LOL).
EM: What do the PR/ styling workshops entail and why did you start hosting them?
CL: I started hosting the workshops because there was a void in Boston. I felt like I would always run into amazing talent that somehow lacked the knowledge on how to run a successful fashion business. We all have skills, right? We are artists in every sense of the word but it can be very difficult to promote and manage your brand without the proper guidance. The good thing is that in this business if you fail, you can pick up and start over.
EM: How do you choose the designers, makeup artists, and hair stylists you feature at the workshops?
CL: I met Crissy Kantor and Caitlin Plumpton of Chill Spa, voted New Hampshire’s best spa 7 years running, during the Boston Fashion Awards 2012. We immediately hit it off and she reached out to me when I had a cancellation for an editorial. I was thankful beyond belief and from there we just continued to work together. I met hair stylist Dominique Earle Coppola through a wonderful model, Megan Beauregard. Again, I had a cancellation and ended up working with Dom of Fulgenzia Coppola Image Design Studio.
Designer Toni Lyn Spaziano of Chances R Designs gave me an opportunity to use her garments to shoot editorials a few times. I am inspired by her line and the reasons behind it.
I also want to say that when I met Robyn, co-owner of Sedurre Boston boutique with her sister, Daria, was another incredible accident. I had an editorial shoot in 2 days and the garments from the designer had not arrived, so I went into a silent panic mode. The shoot was very specific; I could not just go find the clothing to shoot. She had what I needed. We built a relationship and I am fond of that.
Lastly, I met Taneshia, owner of The Haute House Design Studio at Emerging Trends Boston Fashion Week. She and I have been working together and have future plans for business together. So to generally answer your question, I think I met them all by accident. How ironic!
EM: What reason do most people give for attending your workshops?
CL: To build their business and to get insider tips on how to successfully gain press/media coverage. Many people who attend the workshops are extremely talented and are working hard in the fashion industry as we speak. The workshops have helped more than a few launch their design business, start a blog, style fashion editorials, design concept interiors for a luxury retail space, etc. The list is endless; I have others who come to gain connections from the contact list I give out. I am proud of seeing others succeed; that’s the goal of the workshops.
EM: Do you feel that the workshops have been successful so far? Why or why not?
CL: I believe I have a way to go to fulfill the feeling of “success”. I have completed projects that were successful based on my work but I am never quite fulfilled. I always feel like there is more, you know? I grew up near the ocean so I have always looked at the ocean and seen endless opportunities that I have to find and conquer.
EM: What advice would you give to your two children if they wanted to join the fashion industry someday?
CL: Go for it! I will support my children no matter what. It’s like marriage vows except the list of vows to your children are longer and more detailed. I will always give them great advice and my opinion but I will also let them go through their own failures in order to gain a true understanding of what life is all about. I always tell them “never give up” and “always get back up when pushed down”.
EM: What are your hopes for yourself and for the fashion industry in 2014?
CL: Fashion in 2014 should continue to grow, especially with incorporating plus size fashion weeks because it’s a great avenue to explore. It’s not easy to succeed with a plus size collection, but with persistence anything can be accomplished. After meeting plus size designer Dede Allure, I was inspired to follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… call it social media stalking. Her models were from all walks of life and it was great to see that.
I also hope that as an industry we continue to value one another and work together so we can all have our dreams come true together. I would love to share the joy of success with other individuals who understand how hard it can be to make it in the fashion industry. In Boston, I have seen tight-knit fashion communities, but I have also witnessed bitterness. My hope this year is that when I get knocked down, I continue to have the strength to get back up and do it all over again. As you grow in age, you start to realize the importance of being connected to the proper individuals that will guide you towards the change you hope to see.
For more information and to purchase tickets to Wednesday’s workshop, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/fashion-branding-pr-and-fashion-installation-workshop-tickets-10968578313?utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=event_reminder&utm_term=eventname&ref=eemaileventremind
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