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She’s worked with Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Shia LaBeouf, and Cary Mulligan– just to name a few. She’s landed jobs on television, and in films, most notably Mercy, X-Men, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. In addition, her styling has been featured in countless editorials, print ads, music videos, and on the red carpet. “She” is Ali Levine– a go-to Hollywood celebrity fashion stylist… I had the pleasure of speaking with her over the phone last weekend. Read on as she talks about how she got to where she is today, who inspires her, and her favorite trends this season!
IC: So, you’re living my dream… and plenty of other girl’s dreams as well. Could you tell me a bit about how you got started with your career? Did you go to college for fashion?
Ali: I started in retail. I interned with target and ran the clothing and accessories department in New York. I did that for three years. Then I worked in the jewelry department at places like Saks and Neiman Marcus. After that I went on to design for Coach. I was a part of the test they did to change the logo from the traditional “CC.” One day I was called to work on the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps as a production assistant. Oliver stone, the director, saw my interest in fashion and gave me a position to assist the head costume designer. I found that I enjoyed the personal shopping a bit more, and that led me to fall into styling. I began print work, red carpet, and commercials and made the big move to L.A. three-and-a-half years ago. I went to school for fashion/merchandising and design at Northern Arizona University, and then FIT. I always knew I wanted to be in fashion, but it wasn’t until 4 years ago that I realized I wanted to style.
IC: Who has been your favorite celebrity to work with? Who haven’t you worked with yet, that you would like to work with in the future?
Ali:Drew Sedora from TLC ‘Crazy Sexy Cool!’ I worked with her for a few editorials and she was so open to trying new things. Joey King (White House Down) was also someone I enjoyed working with. She’s young, and down to earth. In the future I would love to work with Reese Witherspoon. She has a real classic style. Also, Katy Perry! Her fan base really respects her.
IC: How is styling for film, different from styling for red carpet?
Ali: Styling for film is more about costume design. There’s a certain look. Sometimes there has to be doubles or triples of a clothing item (i.e.3 shirts if there’s blood). In film it’s about a day to night look since there are several different scenarios, it’s about involvement. Red carpet is more glitz and glam.
IC: Take us through a day in your life. What all goes into being a celebrity stylist?
Ali: Everyday is different. There are times when I think it’s going to be a slow day, and my team goes out and makes returns. But then all of a sudden, we’ll get a call that a celebrity needs a look for the red carpet, and all the plans shift to focus on that. Other days I have to leave at 6 am to be on set. Once, a package of shoes that were a crucial part of the music video shoot, didn’t arrive on time. It was hectic! I had to make sure the clients were taken care of, all while checking on where the shoes were, and trying to finish everything on schedule.
”As I tell people who interview to be on my team, the job is about 5% glam and 95% grind.”
IC: What are the benefits, and drawbacks of your job?
Ali: It can get hectic, and like I said, no day is the same… so it’s spontaneous. The benefits are that I love fashion! I love the feeling of helping a client find looks they wouldn’t normally try, and they end up loving it. I’m rewarded from clients feeling good in a performance, or on the red carpet. Another benefit? I get to work with people in the industry, and build relationships.
IC: Okay. So now I’m going to ask you a few personal/ fun style questions. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Ali: I’m a workaholic so it’s hard for me to try to find the off button. It’s fun for me to scour shops, new boutiques, new things to use on shoots. I also enjoy hiking, going to yoga, going to brunch.. hanging out with girlfriends.
IC: Heels or flats?
Ali: Heels. If you don’t see me in heels something is wrong. It’s just a part of who I am (Note: She’s 5’0 ft tall).
IC: What’s something about you most people don’t know?
Ali: Hmm. I’ve never been asked that before! Let me think… Well my best friend is my grandmother. She inspired my eye for fashion design. She taught me how to sew. My grandmother was the first person I called when I was featured in the New York Times. She was a huge driving force in my career.
IC: How would you describe your style?
Ali: It’s mixed. I’d describe it as classic chic with an edgy/boho feel. I’ll wear a maxi dress with a leather cropped jacket, spiked earrings, and high boots or a girly dress and leather jacket. I love to accessorize!
IC: Where are your favorite places to shop?
Ali: For myself… I like Nordstrom Rack it has great versatility while still being on trend and inexpensive. I’ll go to Saks, or Neiman Marcus for certain things that I’ll wear for 2 years+. Also Topshop, Marshalls, and Ross!
IC: What are your favorite fall 2013 trends?
Ali: Prints as a full outfit. A contrasted mix and match can be gorgeous if done right. A wine or bordeaux color is so luxe for fall. You really can’t go wrong with it.
IC: Lastly, Do you have any tips for people who want to become a stylist?
Ali: Yes! A few tips:
- Read up, be an intern, do the grind, and see what it’s all about!
- Work under somebody. Find out if you enjoy high pressure.
- Fashion is a hard business, and will eat you alive if you don’t do it right. Know how to climb the ladder. Always look at the big picture.
IC: Anything else you’d like us to know?
Ali: Well, there’s this misconception that everyone in Hollywood wears things most people can’t afford. When styling my own clients for red carpet events, I’ll put someone in a $2,000 dress with shoes from Target, or bangles from Bauble Bar. I’m a huge advocate for luxe for less. The most important accessory to any outfit though is confidence! I’m always voicing that philosophy.
Describe your style: I can say that my style is quite simple. I like wearing vintage and oversized clothing, and Converse sneakers.
They are mostly surprised when I combine sneakers and a dress. Sometimes they just stare at me.
Last item of clothing you bought and for how much? Fall boots, 30 euros
Who is your fashion inspiration?
My biggest fashion inspiration are fashion bloggers. I love bloggers like Kerti Pahk, Ebba Zingmark, Juule Kay and Evamaria Keranen
Something about yourself most people don’t know: I like spending time alone, and I get tired of people quite fast.
Name one outfit you couldn’t live without: First, I couldn’t live without my Converse sneakers. And then, there is a denim jacket, a simple white shirt and my favorite velvet skirt.
Fashion mantra? “Oh, never mind the fashion. When one has style of one’s own, it is always 20 times better.” - Margaret Oliphant
Any other info we should know?
I like taking photographs and I love to blog. You can visit my blog if you want to know more about me. http://ohmyfilipa.blogspot.com!
You may have seen her on our Contributing Writer’s page, but she has not been formally introduced yet! Meet Katrina Fletcher, the newest contributing writer to Inexpensive Chic! I think it’s important for you the reader to know who’s behind the blog. So, let’s learn about Katrina…
“I am completely obsessed with Fashion. I have loved fashion ever since I could remember. When I was little I would take old socks and cut them up and sew clothes for my Barbie’s. Fashion was in my blood even before I really knew what it was, but in all honesty I probably always knew, as I’m pretty sure I was the only 7-year-old in my class who knew who Bob Mackie was (he designed a collection of clothes for Barbie)! I live, breath, eat, and dream fashion. It is the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing on my mind when I go to bed. One day I hope to combine my knowledge of the law and fashion together and become the go-to Lawyer for the fashion world.”
I had a few style related questions for her as well…
- Who is your fashion inspiration? Coco Chanel- a fierce women with a dream, a goal, and a vision to change the world!
- Who is your favorite designer? It’s a toss-up between Diane von Fürstenberg, and Kate Spade.
- What is one trend you could have done without? Harem pants… I’m sorry I just didn’t /don’t get it.
Recent Posts Katrina’s Written:
Be on the lookout for new posts from Katrina twice a month. Spoiler alert! Her next post will make thinking of a Halloween costume idea incredibly easy!
Are you interested in becoming a contributing writer as well? Email me at InexpensiveChic@gmail.com
Fall is the time of year to start adding more denim to your wardrobe. Every year for back-to-school shopping, new jeans make it to the top of my list! Denim doesn’t stop at just jeans though, denim is everywhere– shirts, shorts, skirts, dresses, etc.! My friends Ashley, Linee and I are going to be showing you how we style our denim this season. Take a look at the different outfits, and let me know which is your favorite look!
Keep Reading, Or Watch The Video Instead!
Look One: The Shorts, the Jacket, and the Dress
Look Two: Incorporate A Print
Look Three: Show Off Your Brights!
Scarves aren’t just for the winter. A silk, or chiffon scarf can be the perfect lightweight addition to a summery outfit. I’ve collaborated with Alexa from LexLovesCouture. Keep reading to see how we would wear a scarf this season.
1. As a Necklace
2. With a Blazer
3. On a Purse
4. With a Basic Dress
5. As a Headband
6. With a Denim Vest
Be sure to visit Alexa’s post featuring both ways we wear summer scarves… and let me know which way is your favorite down below!
Name: Muska JahanAge: 19City: Houston, TX
Starting off by making body harnesses, “because I love using chain….it is so fluid in movement yet solid in structure” Jahan began to really enjoy coming up with new designs and getting a “warm fuzzy feeling” when creating a piece that really complements a woman’s body. “Initially, I was really afraid to invest hundreds of dollars into a business as a nearly broke 19-year-old, but I have become more comfortable with the process as I have begun to profit from my efforts.”
Currently, Jahan is working to expand her line. “I have branched out into making wire rings, necklaces, ear cuffs, slave bracelets, and bangles, but I am striving to create even more beautiful types of jewelry pieces.”
>Describe your style: My style always runs on the weather. I wear all different kinds of clothes. My style changes on a daily basis, from classy to tomboy – from formal to casual.
>What’s the #1 reaction others have about your style? You look so cute! Where did you get that ( item)from?
>Last item of clothing you bought and for how much? Blue high-waisted shorts- charlotte russe- $10
>Dream Job? Lawyer >What do you like to do in your spare time? Thrift..Instagram..Spend time with friends and family
>Your fashion inspiration? Celebs..(Rihanna..KK Harris) -youtube gurus- friends
>Something about yourself most people don’t know: I’m the oldest of 7
>What color do you own most of: grey..black..blue
>Fav stores: charlotte russe…walmart…goodwill…
>One outfit you couldn’t live without? Combat boots_skinny jeans/tights_t-shirt_hat
>Fav fashion mag? Seventeen
>Fashion mantra? “Fashion doesn’t make you, you make the fashion”
Last weekend, Saturday April 26, was the 62nd annual DAAP Fashion Show held at the University of Cincinnati’s campus recreation center. Every year, students from UC’s college of Design, Agriculture, Art, and Planning create their senior projects and present them to the public. The fashion design students showcase their collections in a much-anticipated fashion show.
I got to be a part of the pre-show preparations by being a model for one of the designer’s critiques. This is a gradual process, where the students show their design progress in stages to their professors, and classmates… and of course they offer their suggestions to make it better. In order for me to be a part of the actual fashion show though, I had to audition. There were over 70 models in the Tri-state area that came to try out. Laurie, the director of the show, gave us a speech about how a lot of these models were returning from doing the show last year, so there were a limited number of spots left. She said not to be discouraged if we didn’t get in, but to do our best! No pressure. I remember it was very overwhelming, and nerve wrecking seeing all of these beautiful, tall girls in their heels prepping to impress the judges (faculty, a few Macy’s executives, students, and the director of the fashion show). We had to do one solo walk, and another with a partner. After my audition I felt as though I could’ve done better, but prayed I did enough to get through. When I got the email from the director that I’d made it into the show I was ECSTATIC!
Thursday April 25th finally rolled around– the rehearsal. Rehearsal lasted from 4pm to about 10pm. I had to come straight to campus from school, and stayed there all evening. Laurie gave us a run through of how the show would go, and passed out our line ups. I would be walking for the Macy’s collection, and six of the designers. I would be out on the runway 7 times!! I was shocked considering this would be my first time doing runway, but I knew this was a challenge I could face with confidence. Next, we did a few practice walks. All of us walked in a continuous line back and forth down the 88ft runway so Laurie could make any necessary adjustments. Then it was time to learn our walks for the show. In this show, it’s not just walk to the end of the runway, pose, and turn to walk back. It’s so much more complex. Each time I stepped on the runway, I had a different walk (usually with 3, 4, or 5 other models out their on the runway with me) to do. A few of them were the “Zigzag,” “The triangle,” and one was with me, a guy, and another girl modeling one jacket. So, the guy started with it, had to pass it to me to model, and then I handed it off to the third girl. It was extremely tricky to pull off smoothly! At 7pm, there was an alternative show to the one the next day, that was much cheaper ($10, as opposed to the $40–the basic level ticket). So we had a decent sized audience (maybe a few hundred) that watched us rehearse.
The day was here. Friday, April 26. I could barely focus at school that day. I kept imagining myself on the runway, hoping to God I wouldn’t fall flat on my face and embarrass myself in front of 1,500 people. I arrived at 4:30pm to get my hair and makeup done. The show was to start at 7:30. First, were the little kids that walked with their parents, or some of the models, to model the children’s lines. Next came Macy’s Spring collection. I wore an orange ankle cropped pant, and a peplum black and white striped top. The MC for the night, 1985 DAAP graduate, David Meister (he’s designed for Katherine Heigl, Queen Latifah, Fergie, Tina Fey, Demi Lovato, Drew Barrymore, etc. just to name a few) said a few words, and then everything began to move really fast from there.
My first outfit was a cream top that was cut in a deep V, and a matching organza skirt with super funky butterfly glasses (see below). I was extremely nervous backstage, mentally preparing myself to go out on the runway. This was it. This was everything I’d ever dreamed of. “Niyah..” Laurie’s partner gestured to me that it was my turn to go on. I took a deep breath, and strutted the best way I knew how. For this walk, the middle girl went out first, then the two girls next to her walked together, and finally me and the girl on the far left walked simultaneously, keeping our “triangle” formation. When we got to the end of the runway, we lined up again, turned in sync, and walked back in the same formation. I led us off the stage. My cheeks lifted as I’d realized I’d done it! No mistakes. Now it was time to do the same thing five more times.
My second change was a quick one, almost immediately after I stepped out of the skirt and top, I was called back to get ready to go on again. There really wasn’t time to be nervous. The rest of my changes weren’t as crazy, but I’m so thankful we each had dressers to help keep things organized.. I’m not sure how I would’ve made it through without mine! I felt so in the moment backstage, and on the runway. And each time I stepped off to go and change into another look, I had to keep from smiling so much. I’d never felt so happy. So alive! This is where I was meant to be. Not just modeling, but around fashion, around style, around people like me who love the same things I love.
I was actually disappointed when I was dressing for my last look. It was the second to last collection of the show. I wished I could live in this moment forever. Alas, the final collection came backstage, and we all lined up to walk back out clapping, to signify the end of the show. There were two lines. One line was on the right side of the runway, the other on the left. In the middle, the seniors walked soaking up the satisfaction that they were done with what they’d worked so hard on for the past five years. Not one person in the audience was left sitting on their seat. It was a proud moment for everyone, and I’m extremely thankful I got to be a part of it. I’m literally counting the days until next year’s show! I. Cannot. Wait.
To read more about the show, or see some of the other designs click any of the links below: