Everything Artists Want to Know… from a Stylist

AMANDA VALENTINE is a fashion designer and stylist based in Nashville. Fresh from a stint on Project Runway, Amanda designs edgy, futuristic womenswear, nabbing Nashville Scene’s Best Designer Award last year. She also styles musicians for photo shoots and red carpet events – developing a look that enhances their personal style. With her own individual brand to maintain, she understands the importance of finding your own voice and presenting yourself with confidence and personality. She shares her take on an artist’s relationship with fashion and how a stylist can help them define that. 

1.  Don’t be too cool for fashion.

I totally get it.  It’s not very punk rock to be concerned about your image.  This should be about your music, and your music only.  To be honest,  I kinda hate “fashion” too (or at least the bourgeois connotation).  BUT, it is the fastest and easiest way to send a message to your fans.  Think of it as identifying yourself to your tribe.  That’s why I got interested in fashion in the first place- it’s the one truly democratic art form.  Everyone participates in it (whether or not they admit it).  It’s powerful and subtle.  The message you carry with you everywhere- about what you do and do not value, how you see yourself and your relationship to the world.

2.  Know what you want, or at least start to think about it.

You know when you see that person on the street, who is so perfectly but effortlessly put together that you can’t help but scope them out?  I want to know what that person looks like for you.  I realize this is hard to articulate at times, but there is usually a vibe each individual responds to. I suggest putting together a board on Pinterest or tearing out images from magazines.  You don’t have to explain it to yourself OR to me.  You’d be surprised at the connecting thread in your “looks” when you’ve complied a nice little collection.  It’s a visual language.  Note:  If this is too much, even the smallest hint like “More Rolling Stones and less Beatles” and I’ll get it.  Anything helps!

3.  Trust your voice.

Let me repeat myself:  TRUST YOUR VOICE.  This is your career and your image.  Hiring a competent team is crucial, so look for people who understand your OVERALL vision.  I also design women’s clothing, and this is my #1 motto.  When it comes to my design work, that is MY brand and MY conceptual undertaking.  But, that being said:

4.  Trust your team.

We don’t want you to look lame.  If you look stupid, we look stupid (I’m talking about the stylist, the photographer, your band mates, everyone!  We are all on your side!!).   My personal goal is to make your look like you don’t have a stylist.  Sometimes that means trusting your team to take a step into a look or a concept you haven’t tried before.  I’ve never seen an artist take an intelligent risk (when it comes to styling) and not loved it in the end!  But this also means DO YOUR RESEARCH when it comes to stylists and photographers.  They should have something available in their “book” (portfolio, usually online and should be available to you) that speaks to you.

Many thanks to Amanda for the great advice! It is so wonderful to hear these echoes of professionalism and individuality in different camps of the music industry. I remember the days when I performed in ratty t-shirts and no makeup, thinking I didn’t want to seem like I was taking myself too seriously. I was relying on my clothes to send a message, just the wrong message! I have always loved fashion (and occasionally talk about it on the blog) but feel like I am still developing my ‘signature look’ – do you feel like you’ve found yours? Do you think that it is important?

One Response to Everything Artists Want to Know… from a Stylist

  1. i love this perspective. it’s too easy to feel like talking about clothes is a surface endeavor, when really it’s a way to express what’s happening inside, and further define who we are. thanks for this today.

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