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When it comes to putting together some of the most iconic looks, where would our favorite stars be without their stylists on-hand 24/7? Style expert Lindsay Albanese has been in the business for over 13 years, and has done it all: magazine spreads, last minute fashion runs — even a Britney Spears music video!
We chatted with her about how she broke into the business, and what it’s really like to style celebrities.
How did you get your start in the business?
Lindsay Albanese: To be quite honest, grassroots. I had no family in the entertainment business, and I started off going to fashion school in 2000 when nobody even knew what a stylist was. I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer, because that’s what I majored in [at FIDM], but I realized I hated it. No one knew how the hell to become a stylist back then. So I just figured it out, resourced, worked for free for many years and bartended on the side. The turning point in my career was when I was about 23 years old I was hired to be a stylist at Entertainment Tonight for their wardrobe department, styling Paula Abdul.
When you’re working as a stylist, what can you expect to do on a daily basis?
As far as being a stylist, the day will change in the middle of the night quite possibly, or the early morning. That’s how quickly celebrity’s schedules change. To be honest, there’s no excuse for not being really quick on your phone and being readily available on your phone, 24/7. That is the life of a celebrity stylist. You always need to be connected, or else your client will quickly leave you if you’re not always available. There’s always twenty things that you’re doing at once, or delegating at once. You cannot be a one task person, you will quickly dissolve. All of us [stylists] share that same thread of a multi-tasker, someone who can think on their toes.
Do you have any crazy styling stories?
I’ve sat on the stoop of Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan at 7 AM waiting for them to open the day before Christmas because the seam of an outfit for [Clash of the Choirs] busted the night before and we were shooting a huge finale. I had to find a dress in three hours. So that was horrible, I was crying, sitting on the stoop in the snow. Also you’re scared like, “Please have it,” because it can’t just be a cute little red dress. It has to be a finale dress for a major show for a host.
How do you go about the process of working with the rest of the glam squad when styling?
A complete look needs to be cohesive from hair to toe, I always say. Hair can throw off an outfit completely. It’s hugely important that everyone discuss and be on the same page so we can evoke the same image. In my experience, that’s always been a great experience with the glam squad. No one’s ever just like an asshole like, “I think this.” It’s a fun, creative, collaborative discussion.
So the people surrounding the celebrity need to be really collaborative, no big personalities taking over.
When you get to a certain level, I’d say most people get it. Everyone wants what’s best for their client. Everyone just can’t go on their own. ’Cause god, what would that be? She has a red lip, a yellow dress and ringlet curls. Who knows!
What are some of the outfits you’ve put on celebrities that you’ve loved?
I put Kathy Griffin in something that she never thought she would ever wear, last year when she hosted The Trevor Project. It was a very couture, short, structured dress, and she had never worn anything like that. And that was just a very cool moment for me, because you get set in your ways. Early on, I was one of the stylists for Britney Spears’ “Toxic” music video. That was just crazy cool. I was 24 years old and I had to put a stain on one of the actors shirts when she spilled on him in the video. When they asked me [to do that] I was like, “Yes!”
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You’ve also styled younger celebrities, like the cast of Pretty Little Liars and Bella Thorne. Are they more willing to take fashion risks?
All those girls I’ve styled were so easy and open to my suggestions, but I also feel that’s because I did my research and I brought things that I thought they would love while still incorporating things that I loved. And I think that’s what makes a good stylist. You need to do your research, see their figure type and see the stuff they’ve worn. Bring stuff that is similar to that but then implement maybe some wild card pieces or pieces that you think work.
Do you think it’s all about knowing your client and already being prepared when you go to meet them?
Oh, absolutely. And have a lot of options, especially when it’s your first time styling a client. I hear all the time from publicists that the stylist only brought five things. I’m like, “what?” That’s just laziness! I’ve been pulled into shoots because the stylist they brought in before couldn’t deliver. That’s happened so many times.
Do you think celebrities are taking their fashion more seriously now?
Just because of social media and all these style shows there’s so much more of an emphasis on it, and stylists are so mainstream. I don’t know if it’s that they’re more interested in their style, or that social media has just made it more apparent to everybody. But it’s always been like this, for at least the last 15 years. There’s no such thing ever as a celebrity going to a magazine shoot and not having a stylist, or attending a red carpet. Stylists have always been in the game.
You have your own YouTube channel. Do you think styling is changing with girls on YouTube and Instagram?
It’s the digital movement 100 percent. The resources that people have are just all encompassing. The digital movement has made people much more aware than they ever were. Stylists are sharing their behind-the-scenes photos and who they styled. I share when I’m on E! News. The only thing that’s changed is that everyone is just putting things out there. There were no outlets 15 years ago. When I started styling, you didn’t even take pictures on your phone, much less upload them somewhere. But I was still styling the same then as I am now.
Currently you’re featured in magazines, and you’re known for your style tips. Is that where your passion lies now?
I’m a branded style expert, I’m on a bunch of national and regional segments talking about style. The reason I kind of transitioned into that is because [when you’re] styling celebrities they’re your everything. As they should be — these people are some of the biggest celebrities. I just thought, when I’m 50 years old, do I want to get a call on Sunday night and say, “I’m going to New York tomorrow, I need five outfits, can you come over at 7 AM?” I just realized for me personally, I didn’t want that. I still style. It’s highly demanding but hugely rewarding and such a thrill.
So now you’re more known for being a style expert.
My mission now is to take the intimidation out of fashion and be more like the stylist next door. To take all those things I’ve learned and help people find their personal style — that’s what makes me tick. I also still style, but my focus is definitely more split than it was in the first 10 years of my career.
It’s comforting to hear someone making fashion more relatable.
Oh, absolutely. It’s so intimidating. All the bloggers are so serious, fashion magazines are hard to relate to — they’re so stylish. And we have enough of that. And I think that’s incredible and that’s why I got into fashion. I’m just taking a different angle. And that’s me, I can more relate to that kind of stuff. That’s how I grew up — I didn’t grow up around couture, so I love taking fashion down. That’s where I feel the most comfortable and where I feel I have the most knowledge.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]