While fashion designers take credit for giving us the most beautiful creations that adorn our bodies, it is the stylists, fashion's unsung heroes, which pull all those looks together. Crafting editorial looks, dressing our favorite stars and styling runways, they are finally getting the praise they deserve.
Much to our pleasure, the recent emergence of stylists on the fashion media radar is only just beginning. Once hidden in dressing rooms, private fittings and behind the lights at photo shoots, they are now as sought after as Hollywood's hottest girls.
London based stylist and fashion consultant Iman Pasha – whose work has ranged from working with Diane von Furstenberg, dressing Middle Eastern socialites, to styling Olivia Palermo for a photo shoot – tells us all about it…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work…
My family is from Pakistan and I grew up there, in the area of Islamabad in Bani Gala. When I was 17 I moved to London where I completed my A-levels and then went on to study Philosophy at King's College University before doing a Masters in International Journalism, specializing in Fashion and Entertainment, at The City of London University. By the time I graduated I had fallen in love with the city and decided to stay. After deciding that I wanted a career in fashion I worked in a variety of different fields within the industry, from styling and editorial work at Vogue.com, Tatler and Browns to heading the PR arm at Behnaz Kanani.
Last year I decided to take what I had learnt from these different experiences and use it to launch my own fashion consultancy. Whilst I now spend most of my time running my company, I still do a lot of fashion writing as senior columnist for The Express Tribune's Life and Style section and contributing editor of Niche Magazine.
How did you know you wanted to be a stylist?
I have been interested in fashion for as long as I can remember. My mother had the most impeccable taste and as a child I used to spend hours looking at her clothes and helping her decide what to wear whenever she was going to an important event. After working in various different areas of the fashion industry I felt that styling was not only my strong point but also what I loved to do the most.
When did you start doing this as a profession?
As soon as I left University. I started an internship at Tatler and it all went from there.
Was it hard getting into the fashion industry?
It was hard, but no harder than getting into any other industry. As long as you are focused, hard working and determined you can make it in fashion.
I am really passionate about what I do and I think that helps a lot. I have good relationships with several big stores, such as Matches and Browns in London, who I work with a lot and I always look to collaborate with different designers.
Clients can be tough to work with. How do you deal with the difficult ones?
Choosing clothes is one of the most difficult and personal things for a woman. I just try to be sensitive to that and listen to what my clients want, as well as encouraging them to push their style boundaries.
How do you choose what to dress each client in? Do you go by brand, body type or budget?
A combination of all three. My goal is to make women look and feel great regardless of their body type or budget.
Where does your inspiration come from?
So many different things! The streets of London, my Pakistani heritage, the magazines I read…
Can you tell our readers your top tips on stylish yet easy dressing?
- Don't dress head-to-toe in the season's supposed “hottest trends”.
- Don't wear anything you don't feel comfortable in.
- When choosing an outfit, take one statement piece and dress around it.
What is the best thing about your job?
Helping women who are lacking in confidence to feel better about themselves. Worst thing, you can never escape the temptation to shop!
What would you say are the most essential tools a stylist needs?
A good eye for color, a love of fashion and a lot of patience.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in your work so far?
The project that left me most proud was helping out a mother of newborn twins redoing and revamping her wardrobe. A couple of months after I helped her, I discovered that as a result of my services her confidence had improved dramatically!
Fashion designers? Erdem, Richard Nicoll and Diane von Furstenberg.
Accessories designers? Christian Louboutin, Chanel and Zagliani.
Shopping destinations? I love the concept of boutique shopping so Matches has always been a top favorite of mine as they have some of the best designers under one roof. In New York I love Intermix and Scoop. When it comes to department stores, Selfridges for shoes as well as Harvey Nichols for upcoming designers and lots of American brands.
If you had the chance to work with a famous fashion designer, who would it be?
I absolutely love Diane von Furstenberg and am thrilled to be working with her in March of this year to launch her vintage collection. I would love to collaborate with Matthew Williamson in the future as I have always been a big fan of his work.
Any fashion must-reads?
I have to get my monthly fix of Elle UK, Harper's and Vogue UK. I also regularly read fashion blogs such as “The Couturist” and “My Fash Diary.”
In my (very limited) spare time I love nothing more than sitting down with a good book and am a huge fan of historical fiction.
What are your plans for the future? Photo shoots, editorials, your own fashion brand?
My background actually stems for editorial styling so yes, if an interesting project comes along I definitely take it on.
I have no plans as of yet to launch a brand of my own. But never say never! My dream and plans are to grow my consultancy and collaborate with some very big names in the industry that I admire and hopefully to become a face of a brand someday.
I'm still a long way from achieving all that I hope to achieve.
Finally, any advice to aspiring stylists?
Yes, hard work and always find new and innovative projects to become a part of, even if it's the most minor level. No job should be too small. Everyone has to start somewhere and it always pays off.
– Alya N. Al-Othman