Film Premiers. Red Carpet Walks. Awards Galas. The glitz and glamour of Hollywood is undeniable! But, with the ever-present paparazzi snapping images which are destined to live on the internet forever, how do our favorite celebrities find exactly the right outfit? Staying on the Best Dressed lists is tricky, which is why smart celebs take advantage of the knowledge and resources of renowned fashion stylists.
But, who are these celebrity stylists? And, how do you get such an amazing job? I recently caught up with celebrity stylist Ali Levine to ask just those questions! Ali’s incredible work can be seen on Fran Drescher’s Happily Divorced, In Time with Justin Timberlake, Kanye West’s World Throne Tour, X-Men First Class, New Girl, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and many more.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. If you’re interested in becoming a fashion stylist, let Ali show you how it’s done!
What is your design and fashion background?
I studied fashion design and merchandising in college and took fashion classes in high school. I interned and worked in high school and college, as well, for many clothing stores and boutiques.
How did you get into fashion styling?
I honestly never wanted to be a celebrity stylist. I didn’t even know what a stylist was when I graduated college. It wasn’t a term that was really coined yet. I knew I wanted to work within the trends and with people, after working in design for quite a bit in a corporate setting. I wanted to get out of the box and be more innovative.
I started in the costume and entertainment part of the industry as a production assistant. I worked hard and moved up the ladder. I fell in love with the aspect of shopping as a costumer and that eventually led me to styling.
I would say the turning point in my career was going to work on a movie called Big Momma’s House with Martin Lawrence on location in Atlanta, and meeting the team there from Los Angeles (I was living in New York at the time – that’s where I am from). They wanted to give me an opportunity in costume in Los Angeles. So, I packed my bags and never looked back.
As a celebrity stylist and fashion expert, you have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. Any standouts?
I have worked with some of the top celebrities and major public figures. I still pinch myself at times when I think about all of the incredible moments I have had in the industry! I would have to say some celebrities that really stood out are Holly Robinson Peete and her family. I had so much fun dressing them all and their different fun personalities. Holly received a Best Dressed and Fabulous Award at 50 for the BET Awards and that was a moment! Holly was always kind too, just a wonderful woman and family.
I also love working with reality stars such as Gretchen Rossi and Scheana Shay. We had some major fashion moments and I loved getting them ready for TV, Red Carpet, and editorial moments.
Another would be Chelsea Kane. She received a Best Dressed Award, as well, and we had so much fun stepping out of the box on her Red Carpet looks.
Joey King has so much fire and so much life. When it comes to dressing her for editorials, she would always go with the flow and we’d have fun!
And, I literally could of died happy in Lisa Vanderpump’s closet. Just a stylist’s heaven!
What are the Top 3 Outfits you have created for clients?
Wow, this is a tough one. I like to think I am extremely innovative with all of my clients looks and have them stand out, because that’s my job! I would say Joey King for Glamaholic magazine is a top pick. There were several looks and I legit fell over in happiness for every one! Lisa Vanderpump for her sexy and chic red carpet moment, and probably Vogue Italia with one of my stunning models. I truly love every single look I create, but those stand out in my mind at the moment.
You offer personal shopping, style consulting and closet auditing. What are the differences between these services?
I love to bring my services from the Red Carpet into your home. I always say “confidence is your best accessory” and I want everyone to feel confident and fabulous and have the tricks and tools to do so! Personal Shopping is myself acting as your one-on-one shopper, helping you select one fabulous look that you may need for an event, or several looks that you need in your wardrobe. Nowadays, with Covid-19 restrictions, I have been doing Facetime, Skype, Zoom, etc. for remote personal shopping, as well as spending time online looking at sites and clothing options for clients.
Style Consulting is more a one-time session. We go over your overall style and decide what you like and maybe don’t, what you can work on, and how we transition your looks. It’s a more simple, basic step into the styling world of hiring a stylist. And, I like to get a feel for your style and who you are.
Closet Auditing might be one of my favorites! I go through your closet ( in person or remote) and I literally audit everything you have. We discuss how long you’ve kept something and if it’s been worn or is sitting at the back of your closet. (We all have those pieces, myself included!). We discuss basics that you should have in your wardrobe, trending pieces, etc. It’s an overall audit of everything you have in order to help you build up the wardrobe you need and trim out what you don’t need.
What is your process when working with a new client?
My process is pretty simple. I want to know about the client and why they want a stylist. Is this a one-time thing or they are looking for recurring help or guidance? How do they view their own style? I always ask for three words to describe a client’s style, to give me an idea of who they are and their personality.
Do you style both men and women? What is the difference between working with men vs. women?
Yes, I do. Over the years, it’s trended to more women (and kids as well), but I do work with men, too. There’s no real difference, except men usually have more simple options to choose from, or have one specific look or question. Women are usually into more details. Although, in Hollywood, I have had some men heavily into the details! So, it all depends. Robert Richard always loved testing the envelope as one of my male clients and details were important to him.
For what kinds of events do you provide styling?
I style for all kinds of events: Red Carpet, music videos, photo shoots and editorial, press junkets, TV, etc. I am based outside of Los Angeles, but I work remotely with clients all over the world, from celebrity to personal.
Describe your own personal style. Has it changed over the years?
MY style has definitely evolved and changed over the years. I used to be all about bright, loud, funky, the bigger the better. I would say I still say more is more, but I have tapped into more of a classic, yet trendy, glam style vs. loud and glam!
My young self really wanted to express myself every day, because that’s truly the fun in fashion! It’s a statement. As I got older, and styled hundreds of people, I also realized it doesn’t always have to be loud. It can still be a statement if I am choosing to layer my necklaces and have that detail become a talking piece. Or, wear one statement ring. It doesn’t have to be everything!
Now I think I’ve found a happy marriage between more is more… and less is more. I definitely still stand out, just in a less LOUD way (haha)! I laugh thinking about this question now.
You’ve said that you have “best job in the world.” If you couldn’t have a fashion styling career, what would you do instead?
The best part of my job truly, is watching people transform from the inside out. Giving them that confidence that I know they have! That’s the best part of my job. I love the fashion. I love the amazing clothes and the glam. But, what I can do with those clothes and accessories? That just gets me, every time. Hearing a client tell me years later they still follow my guidance, they still love a certain style, or that I encouraged them to go out of the box more, it’s all incredible. It’s truly why I love what I do!
I don’t know what I would have done instead for a job. I always loved fashion, since I was a young girl. I felt it was always in me. So maybe something else in the buying or designing world further.
I still want to have my own clothing line one day; it’s on my list.
How can potential clients reach you?
They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or they can connect with me on my social media @Alilevinedesign on all platforms. I use Instagram the most. Instagram.com/Alilevinedesign
Learn more and see Ali’s portfolio of inspiring looks at Ali Levine.
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