SELF Magazine‘s Fashion Director, Evyan Metzner, knows a thing or two about conducting a successful photo shoot. With over 20 years of industry experience, Metzner travels all over the world to conduct shoots for SELF, Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, and InStyle. She’s worked with Beyonce, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Carrie Underwood, Kristen Bell, Taylor Swift, and more, with some of the shoots she’s styled pictured below. FPD was able to get the skinny from Metzner, for you aspiring stylists out there, what its like to be a stylist and how to prepare for a styling career.
FPD: Most people want to know how to jump start a styling career, let alone become a fashion director; what sound advice might you give them to follow to make their dream a reality?
EM: “First, I’d suggest reading, looking at, and watching fashion and style magazines and blogs, whether in print or on the iPad. See what you like and respond to: are you more of a full fledge fashion girl or do you like more lifestyle-like magazines, like SELF? What designers do you like? What photographers do you like? I’d also suggest following different editors on Twitter. And then intern, intern, intern. It is still the best way to get your foot in the door. While interning, see if you want to style (work with photographers and models on shoots), or want to be a market editor (they call in the clothes and accessories from designers & PR firms). And then take a look at the mastheads of the magazines you love. Find the editors’ email addresses or send them letters to ask for a meeting with their assistants. Its also important to understand that we all don’t start out in this industry doing exactly what we want to in the beginning. It’ll take a lot of energy and there is a lot of hard work, like packing and unpacking…and packing and unpacking. Most importantly, though — don’t give up!”
FPD: What would you say are some elements to look for, take note of, and analyze, when looking at editorial shoots in magazines, in order to become a novice (or better) stylist?
EM: “There always has to be a thread that pulls it together, whether it is a gold story and every piece has a golden element, or a Twiggy story, or menswear. You have to give a clear message over a certain amount of pages. It can have a more graphic or visual connection or a more storytelling connection, like being inspired by a book or movie, a painting or photograph. Also, keep it clear what kind of feeling you are trying to give the person looking at it. The type of hair, makeup, or attitude all make a picture and story. And as a stylist, you have to communicate that. And you have the control to do that.“
FPD: Do you think an understanding of photography or fashion design is necessary to work in this career?
EM: “I think you have to love fashion and/or photography to be a good fashion editor / stylist. In the end, you are always having to come up with story ideas and how you want to show them. I don’t think you have to go to school for it necessarily, but you have to want to know about it. And its a lot of work, so loving it is key.”
FPD: You have had such an incredible career thus far; what do you think the key is to managing a successful styling career?
EM: “Being a good stylist is about being open to new ideas, trends, and change. And being flexible since many things changes last minute before, during, and after shoots. I also think being able to get the best out of all the people you are working with is key. You need to be a good communicator. You should always look around you. There are ideas everyday, everywhere. Keep your mind and eyes open. Listen to younger and older people — you can always learn.”
FPD: What was the most challenging shoot that you’ve worked on?
EM: “I can’t say there is just one challenging shoot. Each one has their own special challenges, whether that be the model you’re working with, or weather, or cost, or photographer, or locations. I think the hardest ones are when you work with people who are difficult to communicate with and make the day hard. It is and should be a team effort and when a photographer or a model is difficult, well, you certainly have a challenge. As the editor, YOU have to make it all work out. Its your job. You are the peacemaker. The conductor. And of course when weather is bad — like a hurricane in Palm Beach, or it rains for the first time in 174 days in the desert in Australia — well, it gets difficult.”
FPD: Since you travel extensively, what are three (carry-on) beauty items that are found in your bag at all times?
EM: “First of all, I almost always carry-on my bag when traveling, unless I’m going for more than 5 days, or I have to go to fashion shows or bring snow pants and boots, etc. I always have Dr. Hauschka eye and hand cream, a travel toothbrush and paste (a must), lip balm (always changing, but I’m into Burts Bees at the moment), and a sleep mask and headphones for sleeping. And a good book for when I’m asked to shut my iPad off.”
FPD: At shoots, what are several essentials to always have on hand, that could potentially come in and save the day?
EM: “Always always large sharp safety pins — they can make anything look good if you learn how to pin it. Double stick tape (the wig type — we use Topstick). Small, sharp sewing scissors. All in a fanny pack. And all must haves!”