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Making Style Matter
The season of summer is no vacation for many in the fashion industry. It’s the time of year when designers, agents, producers and stylists are busy stitching together the details for the feast of fashion shows that unfold in New York, Paris, London and Milan, starting in September.
For Crystal Ivy London, an emerging fashion stylist from Arima, it’s a doubly hectic time to shop for assignments and book gigs. London launched on her career mission last year when she retired her position as a production assistant for couturier Claudia Pegus and hopped a jet to New York City. Coming from an island where there is no formal training in the art of pairing design elements to create a cohesive look, means London, 28, faces a unique set of hurdles to get inducted into the illustrious Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week fraternity.
We met London recently to get her testimony on what is demanded of an image curator, and how to score prime seats among the stylistas who will huddle around runways in two months and dictate what trends you will want to wear next year.
Q: Who influenced your approach to styling?
A: The first person who influenced me and still does to this day is June Ambrose. I have been following her for years. My interest in fashion and styling was big but it grew into a massive explosion when I was introduced to the Juniverse World, as she calls it. Her approach to fashion, her story was amazing to me and knowing she was from the Caribbean as well gave me more determination to go after my dream.
Derek Khan is another who has influenced me. He’s a stylist from Trinidad who lives in Dubai and has become one of the most influential people there. His story is one of a movie. I will never forget hearing the story and crying and thinking, “My gosh if he can do that then who am I?
Who did you study under and why should anyone bother to intern?
I interned with designer Claudia Pegus and had some training with celeb stylist/designer Carlton Jones, Memsor, and assisted Alicia Crutchfield. I believe it is important to intern, it is a proven way to gain relevant knowledge and skills while establishing connections in the field. It’s hard but worth it in the end.
Describe your strategy for getting in the game once you landed in NYC?
My strategy was research, research, and more research. I wanted to get all the information before contacting anyone. I had to be updated on everything that was going on in the city. I had to find out who were the top stylists, photographers, agencies, and scope out the well-known and upcoming designers. I didn’t want to go into anything without having the knowledge first.
How did you get a front row seating at New York Fashion Week?
Honestly, I didn’t expect a front row seat for any show. Attendees and seating are chosen by the show’s designers and PR agents; so for me to get a seat was a complete surprise. I attended: Gustavo Carvalho, Carmen Marc Valvo, Kate Spade, OUDIFU, August Getty, and Elizabeth and James by Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, to name a few.
What lesson did you learn during your six months in NYC and what’s the hardest challenge of trying to find your groove?
You literally have to build everything from the ground up. Finding your groove takes patience, but it is worth it once it has started. In New York, fashion is a living and continuous entity; you always have to be prepared, on your toes and self-assured.
Do you think the fashion industry requires folks to fake it in order to make it?
I believe in an industry such as this you have to believe and visualise you are where you want to be. You have to act as if you are there, dress the part and be the part in order to be noticed at all.
Which pieces are essential to your personal style?
The number one piece is a pair of heels. You never know what could happen throughout the day or night. My other essential is a tailored blazer. It’s classic, feminine and looks great on all body types. I can pair it with jeans, little dresses, trousers, skirts. Of course, I cannot do any of these pieces without accessories, so I always carry a statement piece. Whether it’s a necklace, ring or earrings. I always have one piece that can start a conversation or just make a simple outfit look strong.
Being a fashion stylist in NYC requires 80 per cent of what and 20 per cent of what?
80 per cent business and marketing and 20 per cent creative. To me the business is more important than talent and portfolio.
What mantra are you guided by?
The quote that keeps me motivated: “Someone once told me not to bite more than I can chew. I told them I would rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocrity.”
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