What Makes a Great Stylist? | Education

Fashion Styling and Image Making is Lucinda Chambers’ online course for aspiring stylists, teaching you how to develop concepts and research; organise shoots; work between editorial and commercial clients; and develop a dynamic portfolio that will help getting that elusive foot in the door. To view the full online Fashion Styling and Image Making course, click here.

LONDON, United Kingdom — Leading their respective fields, hair stylist Sam McKnight, makeup artist Val Garland, producer Sylvia Farago and set designer Shona Heath have been a part of the creative teams behind some of the most iconic fashion imagery of the last 50 years. McKnight is the industry’s original session hairstylist, working with brands like Chanel, Fendi, Balmain and Burberry and styling everyone from Princess Diana to Kate Moss. Garland, global makeup director of L’Oréal Paris, began her career as a makeup artist for Alexander McQueen in the 1990s and has worked closely with photographer Nick Knight.

As a creative producer, Farago wears the hat of a casting director, location scout and photographic director on any given day, collaborating with photographer Glen Luchford and Dazed magazine founder Jefferson Hack. Designing elaborate editorial sets for Craig McDean and Tim Walker, Heath recently brought to life Walker’s re-imagination of “Alice in Wonderland” for the 2018 Pirelli calendar.

Indeed, having collaborated with a number of the industry’s top stylists, from Katy England and Cathy Edwards to former Vogue fashion director Lucinda Chambers, the four seasoned creatives know exactly what it takes to make it in fashion. Below, they outline the skills necessary to become a great stylist.

Val Garland | Source: Courtesy

Val Garland, Makeup Artist — Collaborate and improvise

“I have to say, I really loved the shoot that I did with Lucinda [Chambers] for British Vogue June 2013 cover with Kate Moss. Both mine and Sam [McKnight]’s kit didn’t arrive and we were shooting in St Barts in the Caribbean, so we basically had to borrow make up here and there from the team and got some stuff from the local chemist to create the look. We turned Kate into a modern-day Bardot and she looked amazing! We all worked together and adjusted accordingly to create the best possible outcome.”

A stylist will bring clothes, but an amazing fashion editor will bring a story and a narrative that brings the pages to life.

Sylvia Farago, Producer — Build your confidence, or show ambition

“Today, I think a stylist is more of a creative collaborator with a designer. They have such integral roles in creating looks. Panos Yiapanis‘ role as a stylist [at Givenchy] was almost like a designer in its own right. He is so confident and knows what he wants.

“What makes a really amazing stylist is someone who is confident with what they’re doing. With the younger stylists, it’s confidence. With someone who is a bit indecisive, it shows in how they style the model. Confidence comes with age and experience and there are stylists who don’t have that, but their ambition drives their confidence.”

Sam McKnight | Source: Courtesy

Sam McKnight, Hairstylist — Bring a story, not just clothes

“A stylist will bring clothes, but an amazing fashion editor will bring a story and a narrative that brings the pages to life. There’s a difference between a stylist and a super-stylist. It’s about the whole thing; it’s not just about the clothes. They will bring a story and the narrative and have the girl become that character.

“The old-school guys are good at being spontaneous. The less references, the easier it is to work with. None of us have time to do meetings really as we’re all on shoots all the time; it’s all done via e-mails and phone calls. There’s a lot of people who just say to bring a few things, and it can be vague, and we’re all quite happy with that to. As a hairdresser, I have to adapt to how stylists work. Everyone is different. Everyone has their own way of working.”

Shona Heath, Set Designer — Translate the clothes for the audience

“A fashion stylist connects the designer with the person who will be wearing their clothes. They can feed the designers with a general picture or minute details, or both. They can translate a moment in time or a feeling into a way to wear clothes and, therefore, communicate a progressive concept or attitude. They have an enormous influence on the person who will be wearing the clothes, and ultimately this is what makes it. It is very subtle but ultimately very powerful.”

To view the full online Fashion Styling and Image Making course, click here.

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