Fashion Forward: "Figuring it out"
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 12:10
I was standing in Times Square on a breezy Monday night in October, observing Manhattan’s commercial spectacle as McDonalds, LG, Coca Cola and Corona billboards performed a dance of lights. Up until then, Times Square had always seemed like a disorienting headache of electric commercials to me. My usual Times Square encounters involve working under stress or frantically weaving through tourists for some type of styling gig. But tonight I felt oddly calm and it was kind of fascinating how a bunch of massive flashing advertisements actually looked kind of beautiful.
A few hours earlier I ran out of Gore Hall after a history midterm, hopped on a Megabus and reported to New York City to style a second music video co-directed by my oldest brother Mel for Atlantic Recording artist Sirah. It was a bit last minute, so I had nothing planned—no options ordered, no theme conceptualized and no idea why I found it so important to style this video without any plan. The typical me would’ve been completely freaking out right about then, but I decided if I wanted to push myself as a stylist I needed to look at things differently. “You’ll figure it out,” my brother Max always used to say—and that’s exactly what I was going to have to do.
The next morning I headed out to find pieces for the video happening in four hours with two clues to help me conceptualize. First, a scene that would involve a room full of floating black mylar balloons (a homage to Andy Warhol’s famous balloon room exhibit) and second, Sirah’s single, “Motel Bible.” On the subway, I listened to the song on repeat—it sounded darker than the first music video I styled, “Up & Down,” which was colorful and upbeat. I wanted “Motel Bible” to be a contrast to the former video.
Fortunately, this season’s new fall fashions offer a gorgeous dark palette of deep tones such as eggplant purples, army greens, rich maroons, oxblood reds and lots of black—exactly what I wanted. But what was the theme I was going for? The assortment of trends this season involved dark colors, sheer pieces, leather, velvet and “crosses” in jewelry—suddenly I had a witch vibe. All of the wicked trends inspired a dark, gothic, Wiccan theme. It sounds disturbing, but I was determined to cast sartorial magic. Witches weren’t going to be about wrinkly old ladies, green faces, screeching cackles or floor-length cloaks. If I wanted to start to look at things differently, I had to think outside of the box and keep it chic.
Cutting close on time, I made my way to out of Manhattan on the L train to find myself on set in Brooklyn with Sirah and the crew. The room was filled with black mylar balloons that stuck out sharply against the exposed white brick walls. I decided on a deep sheer maroon top, black hotpants with leather side panels and a necklace of gold and silver crosses. I coordinated with the makeup artist to create smoky eyes and a deep burgundy lip. Finally, the look came together and the vision came to life. Her pewter high-top Doc Martens pulled off the look, as they mimicked the shiny mylar film of the black balloons. I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
After a long night of shooting we finally wrapped up at 1 a.m. It had been spontaneous 24 hours in NYC, but what I learned from the experience was to look at things in a different perspective—you’ll never know what creative vision you can come up with. I realized how much working in this field is truly my passion and why working on this video meant so much to me.
My oldest brother Mel co-directed with the former guitarist of my late brother Max’s band Valencia. Sirah’s manager was the label owner who first signed Max to I Surrender records back in 2005 and the crew and people I met on this project all had some type of tie to him. He may not have been there physically, but it felt like he was right there working with us as we all tried to “figure it out.”