How to become a celebrity stylist

When I started out as an assistant with Pernia Qureshi in Aisha, I had no idea that less than a decade later I would be styling the biggest A-listers in the country on some of the most-watched red carpets around the world! It can seem like a fairytale, but the truth is that there is a lot involved in being a celebrity stylist beyond the glamour. There are long hours spent researching in front of a laptop, lots of running around as well as basic logistics when coordinating deliveries. If you’re looking to make it as a celebrity stylist but don’t have contacts within the industry; don’t worry! I’ve drawn up a step-by-step guide that will help you get started on the career of your dreams.

Read, Research and Repeat

Today’s world of fashion is like an ever-revolving door; trends come and go and are reborn again. If you’re hoping to develop yourself as a credible source of fashion and style advice, it is extremely important to stay on top of what’s happening on the local and international scene. Vogue Runway should be your bible for keeping up with the latest runway shows. Other online publications, like The Zoe Report, will keep you updated about what’s making news right now.

If you have the means, you can also choose to study the industry on a professional level by taking a course. Istituto Marangoni offers a one-year course in fashion styling and photography, while the London College of Style serves a shorter 12-week diploma on styling for magazines, television and celebrities.

If you choose to study fashion in India there are a lot of amazing fashion design schools that have amazing courses now – NIFT, SNDT , Pearl academy to name a few.

Intern and Assist

The only way to get your foot in the door is to start out as an intern and then work your way up. It is essential to know that just assisting a stylist won’t immediately help you land all the perks of the job. It is important to make a mark on the people you’re working with by doing the best possible job you can. An assistant is supposed to make the stylist’s life easier, and good organisational skills are a must for effectively coordinating deliveries, pick-ups, returns and logistics. Expect a fair amount of manual labour in carting around heavy gowns under tight deadlines, but it will all be worth it because this is your front-row seat to understanding how the business works.

Build Your Portfolio

In today’s cluttered landscape, it can seem like everyone is a stylist. If you’re looking to stand out from the crowd, it is essential to have your own point of view on fashion and your sartorial signature. While you are learning the tricks of the trade, simultaneously start freelancing for smaller projects. Put together a portfolio of all your work, give the required people due credit, and start conceptualising moodboards to further build your vision. Today, Instagram has put the potential of a global audience at our very fingertips. Curate your feed like a virtual portfolio so that any client who visits your page instantly understands your aesthetic and vision.

Discover What Works

Looking in from the outside, it can seem as if stylists get paid to hang out with celebrities and attend red carpet shows all the time, but there is science involved. It is essential to understand different celebrities’ personal style, and what does and doesn’t work for them. Katrina Kaif is someone who likes to keep things fuss-free but she also appreciates a challenge and likes it when the stylist puts in the effort for pulling a look together. Alaya F, on the other hand, has just started her career and she’s like a budding flower who is just opening up to the world of fashion. She can be girly one day, androgynous the next and super elegant the day after that. It is important to know and understand personal preferences before merging them with your artistic vision to create an unforgettable look.

Network, Network, Network

Ultimately, if you are looking to make it as a celebrity stylist, you should know that they are a close-knit group. A good recommendation from stylists you’ve assisted in the past can go a long way towards landing your first standalone client. Use the initial years of your career to build relationships with designers — introduce yourself when working with them, take those extra five minutes to frame polite, professional emails, make their lives easier by ensuring speedy returns and send them images when you use their pieces. These easy measures will ensure that they remember and respect you for when you are ready to start working on your own.

The same principles apply to photographers, makeup artists and celebrity managers. Forget about the commercial aspect of the job when you are just starting out and instead focus on honing your own identity. It is all too common for people to expect that they will land their own clients after just one year on the job. Don’t be afraid to put in the time to hone your craft and collaborate with the people around you, and the right opportunities will present themselves to help you flourish!

I hope this helped you get a brief understanding of how to get started if you’re looking to make it as a celebrity stylist. If you have any queries, I would love to hear from you and help you with any answers you need. Just drop in a line in the comments below!