Stylin’ With Plus Model and Fashion Stylist Reah Norman
Stylin’ With Plus Model and Fashion Stylist Reah Norman
Instrumental in the styling of the PLUS Model Magazine photo shoot during, “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Show” (set to air on the Oxygen Network Oct 14, 2008), we sat down with Reah Norman for a chat on styling, the Janice shoot, and flattering Fall looks for curves.
[Maddy] We have seen you blossom from a great model into a fabulous stylist. For those aspiring models who do not know exactly what a stylist is, could you describe what a stylist is? [Reah] There are a few different types of stylists. Basically a stylist is someone who is an expert and consultant in a field where trends and style are constantly changing. Different types of stylists may include hairdressers, interior designers, fashion stylists, wardrobe stylists, and product stylists.
In the world of fashion, a stylist works with, and is hired by, magazines, clothing designers, celebrities, advertising/PR agencies, special events coordinators, and corporate divisions of retail stores to select appropriate wardrobe, props, and accessories to be used in photos, videos, television, movies, live performances and fashion shows. Fashion Stylists are also be hired by models to work with them on portfolio development and to select wardrobe for their upcoming test shoots and special events.
[Maddy] Did you always feel like you had an eye for styling? [Reah] I have always had an eye for styling and a passion for photography. As a young girl, I would set up my dolls and stuffed animals on my bed and take photos of them with my Fisher Price camera. I even ironed all the doll clothes and used a white sheet as a backdrop! I started taking photography classes when I was 15, and as I grew up I was always drawn to clothes, fabric, and dressing people. My first job was working in a drycleaners, and then I went onto working in Visual Merchandising. When I went to college I knew that I wanted to be a stylist, so I decided to major in Merchandising and minor in Photography. I knew that studying these two disciplines in tandem would allow me to refine my eye for detail and create my style as an artist. [Maddy] From a models perspective how important is it to have a stylist present at your shoot? [Reah] A stylist is a great asset to have at your photoshoot for several reasons:
1. Stylists help take you “outside the box”: As individuals, we do not truly see ourselves the way that others see us. It is important to have the point of view of a professional who can pay close attention to details that you generally may not be aware of, offer you a fresh perspective, and take you “outside of the box”.
2. Stylists have a trained eye: In most cases, specifically with plus models, stylists will shop with you before a shoot to make sure you have the best possible selections for your body type. Stylists know what fabrics, patterns, and silhouettes will look good on you individually as well as what will be best on camera. When you look in the mirror in a dressing room or your bedroom an outfit may look perfect, but on camera under studio or on location lighting you may see problems that are unflattering. Stylists have the tools to fix these problems. Since clothing “off the rack” is not made specifically for you, in most cases you will need to be pinned into them to get the most flattering fit possible. This is an essential part of a stylist’s job.
3. Stylists are there to assist you: Stylists work as an assistant to you before, during, and after your shoot. Before a shoot, stylists will shop with you at least once, and then pull the rest of the look together on their own, making sure to find all the perfect finishing touches for your ensemble. On shoot day, stylists will steam, iron, organize, and pin your entire wardrobe and make sure it fits on you perfectly. Also, after a shoot, stylists will make sure that all the items are packed appropriately and in most cases, they will take care of all the merchandise returns.
Having a stylist at your shoot is just as important as having a great photographer, location, makeup artist, and hair stylist. All of these elements come together to make you look your best. As a model, all your photo shoots should be considered an investment in your business, and hiring a great team is part of that investment.
[Maddy] You were the stylist on set for our shoot with the Janice Dickinson Models. Tell me about your concept and vision for each of the models. [Reah] The studio where we had our shoot was definitely our inspiration for our concept and vision. The photographer, Inez Lewis, and I toured the studio, and were inspired by the vintage sets and backgrounds the studio had.
For Ivory, we wanted to transport her to the late 60’s and early 70’s. We visualized her as Nancy Sinatra or Pricilla Presley, but with a modern twist and lots of vibrant color. We wanted to take a chance and show how retro influences can be mixed with modern flare.
For Alana’s shoot, almost her entire wardrobe was from Biluzik, so we focused on showing the diversity of the line. Biluzik sells everything from patterned tees and denim to black cocktail dresses and satin trousers. We used different sets within the studio to showcase all of the different fabrics and styles within the line and to show how different each of them can be worn.
[Maddy] When a plus size woman is looking to experiment with colors, as you did with Ivory, what tips can you give them? [Reah] As a plus size woman, you should not be afraid to wear colors and patterns, but it is a fine line between classy and flashy. It is important to remember these tips: A bright print or color can accentuate your best feature and flatter your body type. If you are smaller on top and have larger hips and thighs, wear your patterns on top to draw attention to the area and balance you out. Pair your pattern with a darker bottom. If you are larger on top than on bottom, select a printed or colorful skirt or pant and pair it with a solid neutral color top. A general rule of thumb is that you should always be balanced. If you ware wearing a pattern or vibrant color, then it should be balanced out with a neutral.
Accessorize with color and patterns. If you do not feel comfortable wearing bold colors and patterns in your clothing, you can add them in your accessories. Bold and printed tights, bracelets, necklaces, hats, and bags can add flare and really pull an outfit together. Shoes with vibrant color and patterns can also be a fun way to add interest to an outfit. When adding this touch, wear a basic black dress or great fitting jean with a basic top. This will balance out the look and allow your shoes to speak for themselves.
What NOT to do: Don’t ever wear head to toe prints. Don’t wear printed accessories when wearing clothing with busy prints and patterns. Don’t overdue it. Have fun with color and patterns, but keep your outfit classy. Splashes of color can add interest and keep it classy. Generally, less is more!
[Maddy] Not all plus size women have hour glass figures, for those of us that are top heavy what styles flatter our curves the best? [Reah] Great question! Here are some general rules of thumb for top-heavy body types:
Undergarments are essential! Make sure you are wearing the right bra size, as well as an appropriate style for your breast size, such as a minimizing bra that offers full coverage.
V-neck, boat neck and sweetheart necklines are your most flattering cuts. This creates the illusion of more space between the neck and the bust, making your top look smaller. Make sure you are wearing the right size garment. A top that is too tight will add attention to your breasts, and a top that is too baggy will make you look heavier. Keep this in mind with bottoms as well. Jeans or pants that are too tight will make you look bigger on top. Try on pieces in a few different sizes, remembering that what the inside of the tag says does not matter!!! Less is more when it comes to cleavage. Large amounts of cleavage make breasts look bigger and often times can make them look as though they are sagging. Layering with a lace trim cami or basic tank underneath a top can show cleavage in a more classy way.
Avoid wearing tops that have a cap sleeve or a puffy sleeve. These silhouettes will make you look broad in the shoulders and will make your breasts look larger.
Choose a flattering bottom. You can balance out a top-heavy figure with an A-line skirt that will give you the look of a waist and more of an hourglass look. For pants, choose flat-front (never pleated) pant that has a lower rise than the natural waist. The lower rise will make your torso appear longer.
[Maddy] What can we look forward to for the Fall/Winter season? [Reah] I always get SO excited to wear fall fashion.
My top 5 favorite trends this season include:
– Berry Colors: cranberry, magenta, plum and burgundy – Sweaters: long boyfriend cardigans, sweater coats, and flyaway mock turtleneck cardigans – Boots: ankle boots, peep toe ankle booties, slouchy flat boots, and tall leather boots – Romantic Blouses: sheer and satin blouses with ruffles and flutter details. – Statement Jewelry: unique necklaces, bracelets, and rings that stand-alone or can be mixed and matched with other pieces to create a bold look.