Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Power Stylists

Stylists used to work on the backstage of magazines, shows, advertising campaigns, music labels and design ateliers but a growing shift in the dynamics of the fashion industry tuned them into entrepreneurial visionaries.  

Image from Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries book

They have bridged the nebulous boundaries between art, culture and commerce to become not only the interpreters but also the originators of fashion, style gurus with a killer eye, who are able to spark trends.

"Like an amazing film, a great stylist will open your eyes to a world you had not - or could not possibly have - imagined." Nick Knight

Their talented work is now being acknowledge on a book - Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries - by Katie Baron, published by Laurence King next month. With a foreword by the highly acclaimed photographer Nick Knight, who is also the creative mind behind ShowStudio, it showcases the most talented stylists and their crucial partnerships and collaborations.

Image from Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries book

This book is a celebration of contemporary styling and delivers an extensive insight into the pioneering work of an elite group of international stylists from different creative areas.

Their visibility is definitely enhanced by their collaboration with celebrities who more and more have to sell themselves as a brand. The stylist has become an important ally in their fight for staying on top in industries where competition is fierce, securing red-carpet exposure, magazine covers and lucrative fragrance and cosmetics contracts.

Image from Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries book

How do you explain the increasing collaboration between stylists and brands/pop/movie stars?

Katie Baron: We're living in an increasingly image dominated society - fuelled by the digital revolution. The Internet has spawned both a much higher proliferation of imagery across the world and a situation where it's now very difficult to hide. Success in all the fields mentioned above, but particularly for pop stars, is now frequently judged on having 'the whole package' and also on what is being represented.

Pop stars, for instance, are required to tour an image representative of an entire lifestyle. Every detail communicates a message. Stylists are becoming so invaluable in those areas because they are the people who can not only steer or negotiate those messages but actually cultivate them.

Image from Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries book

A fashion editorial is the result of many people working together. Do you think it's possible to distinguish the stylist work from the photographer's within an image?

Katie Baron: I think the best fashion editorials, indeed fashion images of any sort, are those when the collaborative element is so potent that it's virtually impossible to pick the work apart in that way. Of course, technically you know that it's the stylist who's bringing the fashion to the table - and with a great stylist their perspective will be unique - but in a great piece of work the vision should gel so tightly that it will feel simply like one cohesive, utterly convincing message.

However, if you're asking if it's possible to recognise the mark of a specific stylist on a particular shoot then yes, I think there are instances when you can see a particular language at play. All 25 of the stylists featured in this book have a very strong, unique creative language but the final image is always a collaborative gesture. It's no coincidence that many stylists and photographers partner up over and over again.

Image from Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries book

With today's due recognition of a stylist, many bloggers use their body as canvas to show off their skills. What makes a stylist truly visionary?

Katie Baron: A truly visionary stylist is someone capable of pioneering an entirely new language with fashion. Take Melanie Ward and the emergence of grunge as an example. Melanie channeled the sentiments of an era into a vision of fashion that still exists, albeit in different permutations of its original guise, today.

Having great personal style (as many bloggers do) is one thing, and certainly due full credit, but it's not the same as unleashing a whole set of ideas that could potentially change the shape of fashion. 

Book cover

Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries
by Katie Baron
(£30, Laurence King)
Out in March 2012

Other related posts:
Defying Photography
'Erotic Chic' Fashion Images by Carine Roitfeld
20 Years of Dazed & Confused Magazine