HOW I BECAME A FASHION STYLIST: AN INTERVIEW WITH CLAUDINE DESOLA

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No one would dare try to kill the vibe of Caravan Girl Claudine DeSola. Good thing too, because DeSola would be too busy to be bothered. As the Head-Stylist-In-Charge at Caravan Stylist Studios, DeSola builds stylish wardrobes for some of the world’s biggest film and music celebrities, and fashion lines—-including Alice + Olivia, Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller, Carmen Marc Valvo, if one only wants to name a few.

Let’s get inside her mind, shall we, glamniacs?

Growing up…I read every fashion magazine I could get my hands on, I would clip pages and make inspiration boards/ books, and of course I loved putting outfits together. I knew I wanted to do something in fashion, so I went to Marist College who has an excellent fashion program.

The idea of being a fashion stylist first occurred to me…At my internship I worked in the men’s design department and I loved watching them put everything together and I loved being involved in the Marist College fashion show. Then out of school, my first job with YEOHLEE was an amazing experience because sometimes I had some fun ideas and she cared enough to listen. I then went onto handling PR for one of the most amazing stylized companies—Anthropologie. I loved the way they styled their catalogs- I would save them like pieces of artwork and I knew one day I wanted to do something like that. I continued on the path of PR, and in 2005 while still owning my own company I was able to open my first Caravan store inside a RV and then opened two stores. I was able to do a ton of styling here from buying to putting outfits together to trend forecasting. I loved it. I really wanted to just be involved in fashion and in 2011 – my dream came true. I was really able to do what I love so much which get to work with designers and talent on red carpet looks, fashion shows, look book production, television interviews and so much more. I was so happy. I have been able to learn everyday new tricks and get better at the trade for the last couple of years. Every day is so much fun.

They call me Caravan Girl because…I started the first-ever store in a RV and we would drive around the city selling everything from party dresses to Converse and I thought the name was suitable. We were taking fashion on the road. I also love traveling and exploring. My dream one day would be to take a caravan and drive around the country but I don’t think that will happen until I am retired one day.

My first break…I always give a lot of credit to YEOHLEE– she really believed in me and she will always be someone who gave me the confidence to talk up and share ideas. I think everything is hard work and you just have to always continue to forge ahead.

Most people feel…the stylist is behind the scenes – the talent and the designers are the glamorous ones. I always laugh because sometimes I am just running around the city from showroom to showroom in my Catherine Malandrino jumpsuit and my New Balance sneakers…yes Catherine Malandrino is very glam and New Balance is made in the USA, but at the same time I am not running around in heels and all styled…my goal is to get the most ground covered. I always joke on the days I host a party for some of our talent and designers we love to work with – I am always the last one to get ready. I have to stop what I am doing whether it is talking to catering or helping move mannequins to get my own hair & makeup done. It is important at events to show that I know how to style myself. But it is very hard on shoots to wear high heels when you are carrying clothes from one set to the next and are constantly jumping up to fix the talent. I try to dress smart for my everyday duties as a stylist.

My work days are…a mix from writing emails to designers we work with for talent or discovering new talent. I also am supported by amazing partners at the studio such as Sexy Hair, Kryolan, Volvic Water, Zoya and Fake Bake tanning bronzer. These partners are my lifeline to keep my studio alive. I not only style with clothing, but I employ a celebrity beauty stylist Valerie Star, who works with all my talent—so together we can create a cohesive look. I also work with photographer King Perez de Tagle from Kimatherapy as an official photographer of the studio. Together we are a team coming up with shoot ideas and other fun projects. We also have Karmela and all our interns that help make everything possible. It is a lot of work to get in clothing, to inventory it, to figure out what is missing and then to send it all back. We are constantly on the hunt for more and more designers to work with as well.

My day usually starts with…trying to make sure I answer all my partners questions and working with their PR teams on more appointments for the studio. Then we are always looking for additional partners and designers to grow the studio. From there I have to see what I am working on from finding gowns for a specific red carpet event or finding pieces for Cat Greenleaf for a specific segment she has coming up – every day is totally different. We also produce at least ten events a year so some days are dedicated to making that event great from organizing beauty for our ten actresses hosting an event to finding a really cool musician to be a part of the event. I am constantly cool – hunting and trying to find new trends and ideas to bring into the studio.

catherine desola

The three biggest lessons I’ve Learned so far…Get back to people and be on the ball. Learn about new designers and new trends every day and embrace new talent. Someone that is new to the entertainment world today might be huge tomorrow – I have seen this happen so many times. There are not many things that drive me crazy about the fashion industry but there are a few. They are: Sometimes publicist don’t look at an actress’ bio – they don’t see how amazing that person is. They just care about who is being printed in particular entertainment magazines. They should look at the bio and look at the opportunity more. I have gone to tons of publicists and designers and sometimes they will say – that person isn’t “edgy” enough or they aren’t in my “target market” and I totally get that. I come from a PR background – we all need to have goals and strategy and an aesthetic but sometimes they don’t even give that person the chance until all of sudden everyone is talking about them. I see this all the time. I like to say I told you so!

Then why doesn’t talent that is already established give more chances to the emerging talent. You hardly see this happen – every once in a while you will see someone where someone new on the red carpet and it is usually still someone that has buzz and is being featured in Vogue but what about the young designer that doesn’t know how to get into the media or doesn’t have the budget for PR. They might have incredible dresses too. I think that it would make award shows like the Golden Globes more exciting if we started hearing new designer names and not the same ones over and over again.

Some of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe are…A Nanette Lepore scarf she gave me for the holidays, a Walter Baker top and harem pant in this very bright pattern, a vintage Chanel skirt, a Lanvin top I scored at Century 21 that has these incredible birds on it, a Raina Gill neon dress, a Mara Hoffman caftan, a bobi jumpsuit – I adore Kara Lusardi, the designer behind bobi, a necklace from Tiffany & Co that my boyfriend bought me for Christmas, and bracelets from Morocco I bought from the desert. Oh and gold bracelets that one of my favorite icons made – Jade Jagger – they are the perfect gold bracelets. I have a lot of designers I love so much.

My ideal intern…is sharp, has questions, is thoughtful and efficient & effective and has creative style.

Fashion school is great…I love there are schools out there to teach the trade and I love hearing about all the new discoveries and innovations that students are learning about these days.

The biggest work-related fashion emergency I have had occurred when…I worked with talent that had specific silhouettes they only like on them and I pulled limited of that style – while they were in hair & makeup – I ran around to designer showrooms and I found those silhouettes and we winded up having an amazing shoot.

Caravan Girl

When a client approaches me I…Research research and communicate with them to make sure I am hitting the target.

My favorite color…it is cliché but black – I love black but I also love color and patterns but if I had to pick one color unfortunately it would black or maybe cobalt blue because I just love how that color looks on me

Someone who wants to be a stylist…needs to start interning for a stylist or magazine now or even a big cool store like a Century 21 – they have amazing stylists on their team.

I’m highly accomplished, but among the things on my bucket list of triumphs-to-be-executed includes…I would like to style someone for the Golden Globes or Academy Awards – I am working with someone amazing who is nominated for Independent Spirit Awards so I am excited and another actress for Satellite Awards. I hope to grow with the talent I work with so media follows their looks each time and they can see their style evolution – constantly introducing them to new designers. I also want to be able to be hired by a styling agency as a team effort with my photography and beauty team – together we can create great work I believe.

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I can’t live without… My Sexy Hair products,“Claudine” Zoya nail polish and my Samsara perfume and feel like everyone should carry water with them and my favorite is Volvic and I can’t leave the house without giving my boyfriend and dogs a kiss goodbye each day.

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