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Rachel Zoe, Nicole Chavez and Brad Goreski are all household names, jet setting across the country to further their styling careers. But Dallas has its own set of premier stylists, sans the television shows.
Southern Methodist University’s recent Fashion Week included panels with industry leaders and a fashion show. The first half of the two-part Styling and Designing panel focused on providing an insider’s look into the nitty-gritty world of fashion styling.
Three panelists, all with different job titles and backgrounds, described their daily lives and offered advice to the audience in the Umphrey Lee building on SMU’s campus the evening of March 29.
Panelist Nikki Trizza works as an assistant stylist with Neiman Marcus Direct, the store’s catalog and on-line division. She said her typical workday entails categorizing merchandise, booking models, helping on the set at photo shoots and developing the “look” of the Neiman Marcus Direct website.
Trizza, who studied fashion design, said interning for Jan Strimple, one of Dallas’ premier fashion producers, was key to honing her styling skills. While working as part of the team that helps run Strimple’s fashion shows, Trizza realized she likes making other designers’ clothes look good more than creating her own designs.
“Weeks of work would go into the production of a show, which basically only lasted a couple of seconds. But I loved the chaos behind the scenes,” said Trizza.
Panelist Tamar Minassian, stylist at the Preston Center boutique Tootsies, also discovered her calling during an internship with Strimple. While attending Wade College, a merchandising and design school in Dallas, she emailed Strimple, hoping for an entrée into the Dallas fashion scene.
During the internship, Minassian said, “Jan told me over and over ‘you are great at styling,’ which was a relief because I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
A typical day in the life of a Tootsies stylist ranges from pulling clothes for store events to hosting “trend talks” for customers to styling fashion shows. “One time, Tootsies put on a fashion show for moms so I had to pull clothes with the focus ‘carpool chic.’ ”
Panelist Tammy Theis, owner and creative director of Wallflower Management modeling agency, started as a reporter for The Dallas Morning News’ fashion section after earning a journalism degree from the University of North Texas.
During her 21 years with The Dallas Morning News, she found herself most at home in the studio, styling photos. “I would walk into stores to pull clothes for a shoot and get an adrenaline rush. I loved that feeling,” Theis said.
Theis also discovered she had a talent for spotting fresh faces when the section’s editorial team was looking for models to feature in fashion photo layouts. This skill has helped her build Wallflower Management, which Theis said specializes in developing models for artistic editorial content. “I am so picky when it comes to choosing models for a shoot because I want personality and soul in a photo, aspects many people forget about.”
While Theis’ work primarily involves managing models now, she still loves styling. She freelance styles occasionally, particularly NorthPark Center and Galleria Dallas advertising. “Styling is still one of my favorite things to do.”
All three panelists agreed that anyone interested in a styling career should make it a priority to study fashion-focused publications, such as style.com, Women’s Wear Daily and any fashion magazine.
Trizza said she believes participating in a fashion-focused program, like SMU’s new Fashion Media minor, will also help secure a position in Dallas’ fashion scene by providing critical experience and connections.
Minassian concurred. “Being out there in the fashion world helps you hear of new jobs available, but without personal connections, it is a tough industry.”
Theis believes knowing the top photographers and stylists not only in Dallas, but nationwide, will be extremely helpful in the long run. “Always look at credits and cut lines. Developing an eye and having knowledge of past fashion successors is the key [to] making a mark in the fashion scene.”
Cutline: F!D Luxe’s March 2012 edition styled by Tammy Theis and photographed by Claudia Grassl with models Natalie Gempel and Caroline Hinton.