When it comes to fashion, it’s not about the clothes, but they way they make you feel…right? For us, we’d love to feel like Alexa Chung twenty-four seven, and if clothes can do that, then so be it. But while we’ve all had those moments when we’re staring into the deep abyss that is our closet hoping that our clothes will magically levitate onto our bodies and style themselves, the majority of the time our room just becomes a field of clothes that we tiptoe across just to get to our beds after a chaotic day of not knowing what to wear…and knowing you won’t be picking up your mess later. #thestruggleisreal. Although the infatuation that we all have with fashion will never be obsolete with each designer perpetuating new style after new style, there are just those times when we have NO idea how to actually put together each individual piece for everyday wear. So thankfully, we have today’s Boss Babe to help us out with any styling issue that we may have.
Doria Santlofer is no stranger to the world of fashion. With a degree in art history and previously the fashion editor at New York Magazine, we are sure her creativity is just pouring out her mind like the endless supplies of things in Mary Poppin’s bag. Now she is her own boss by styling for some of the biggest names in the biz. Oh, you know, like Target, Teen Vogue, Barneys New York. NBD. We would tell you the rest, but your head might explode with envy. The deal is that Doria is truly a styling boss; the way she intricately lays patterns and colors over each other makes our daily styling game seem like child’s play.
We got to hang with the charming beauty where we talked about her styling business, and asked about her creative process all while hanging at her equally charming LES apartment.
So, without further adieu, meet the stylishly-talented Doria Santlofer.
New York, NY
Favorite show this season during NYFW?
Who is your style muse?
It changes every day! I re-watched Great Expectations the other day and Gwyneth Paltrow’s ’90s Estella is a pretty major muse.
Band you are currently obsessed with?
Tame Impala and Popcaan
Go-to shop in NYC?
Your ideal vacation spot?
I keep getting pulled back to Nosara in Costa Rica and the beaches on that strip of the peninsula. The water is so warm and everything is happy. I’m hoping to take a proper trip soon, though, and I’d really love to explore Japan.
Favorite era for fashion?
1920 La Garçonne.
How did you initially get involved in the fashion industry?
I started with internships at Seventeen and Harper’s Bazaar when I was in school. When I came back to the city I got a job scanning all of Patrick Demarchelier’s contact sheets for Hearst and I truly fell in love with fashion photographs that summer. I got hired as an editorial assistant at New York Magazine that winter and a year later, with no real styling experience, I somehow convinced the magazine’s then Fashion Director, Harriet Mays Powell, to hire me as fashion editor. We started shooting the Spring Fashion issue that month and I was hooked.
What is your creative process like when styling outfits? And what would you say is your “style”?
If it’s an editorial shoot, I’ll spend loads of time making inspiration boards with references for wardrobe, mood, color etc. After I’ve resolved the concept for the shoot, I’ll begin calling in looks and pulling specific pieces and accessories. Once all of the clothes and accessories are at my studio, I’ll spend a significant amount of time putting them together into outfits and tweaking them. It’s a lot of adding and taking away until the clothes feel like they tell a cohesive story. For an advertisement or a lookbook, it’s my job to tell the story of a brand though the clothes. Usually, I’ll receive a moodboard or a brief from the art director or designer and I then get to build the wardrobe based on that.
I like to mix classic elements of masculine and feminine. For instance, it’s fun for me to play with heavily layered, menswear-inspired pieces, but in bright colors and mixed prints.
How is your personal style similar or different from your styling work?
They are quite different in one major way, which is color – I love playing with color and pattern in my work, but I wear almost none. In my closet, there is pretty much only black, white, grey and denim – lots and lots of denim!
Your client list is insane! What was your most memorable styling shoot you have ever done?
One of the first shoots I styled for New York Magazine was with Guy Aroch, we shot The Virgins and a group of their friends over a weekend at the Bowery Hotel. The concept was based on rock and roll photos of the Rolling Stones in the ’60s. It was amazing to watch it all come to life. I’ve also gotten to go to some incredible places for jobs – just recently I did a shoot for Clarks shoes in Death Valley, we were driving Land Rover Defenders through these jaw dropping canyons in 110 degree heat. It’s such an amazing, lucky thing to be able to travel for work. It never gets old.
Your background initially comes from studying art history. What piece of art completely mesmerizes you?
I could stare at Gerhard Richter’s abstractions for hours. But, my dad is an artist and I grew up watching him work in his studio, he is and will always be my favorite!
You did such a beautiful job styling the SS16 Whit show! What story were you trying to portray through the way you styled the clothes?
Thank you! Whit is an amazing designer and it’s been so wonderful working with her the past several seasons. Her pieces are so fresh and it’s really fun to mix prints and pop in key accessories to heighten the looks.
If you could style anyone in any industry, who would that person be?
Georgia O’Keeffe would have been fun.
You have written your first book, 50 Contemporary Fashion Designers You Should Know, back in 2012. Are you thinking of writing a new book about fashion styling in the future?
I definitely plan to work on another fashion book in the future! Right now, however, I’m working on a book project very close to my heart. My mother died two years ago and she had just nearly finished a book she’d been working on for almost five years. The book is called “Food City: Four Hundred Years of Food Making in New York.” It’s an epic account of NYC’s rich food history and it’s being published by Norton this spring. We have to raise quite a significant amount of money, though, to cover all of the costs incurred from additional editing of the text and images so I’m about to launch a big Kickstarter campaign. It’s been truly touching how many people in the food community and the publishing world are rallying around the book and contributing amazing rewards to my campaign — it’s a special thing to be able to do for my mom and it’s inspiring to have all this wonderful support. I’m really excited to have her work be out there in the world.
Any other projects in the works?
I am working on a design project with my friend and food writer, Colu Henry. I won’t say too much yet (Caftans!), but it’s new and exciting territory for both of us…
What’s your go-to outfit for a girls’ night out?
You mean girls’ night in? Jeans and a tee and a glass of wine!
What’s one of your beauty no-nos?
I wear very little makeup – mascara, some concealer and maybe some blush. People are always saying “do a lip,” but I was scared off lipstick early on when an old boss told me I looked “quite whorish” in it one morning. If that won’t do it, I don’t know what would!
Words of advice for future Boss Babes, specifically those looking to get into styling?
Styling is very much a collaboration — with the photographer, the hair and makeup, and often, with a client or designer. I think that while it’s always very important to bring your point of view and vision to the table, it can be just as important to listen and discuss. Because there is so much visual stimulus and collaboration in styling and on shoots, I think every stylist (and everyone!) should find time alone to quiet out the noise and get re-inspired. I like to leave my cell phone at home sometimes and go on walks around the city to be alone with my thoughts and ideas. Also, always be polite, don’t be a diva. And, most importantly: Invest in a truly comfortable pair of sneakers. There is no place for heels while running around to pulls or standing on set for 10 hour days.
(Photos by Vanessa Granda)