Stylist in Training

by Brigette Agyei

Like many industries, the fashion world was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and artists had to wait to launch the next big thing.


Rachel Pina Marte, a fashion designer, loves styling people and is extremely excited to start work on a project that was postponed due to the pandemic lockdown in March.


Marte consults with customers about the look or theme they’re after and the budget they have to work with. She then assembles outfits to “audition” for the client. But, as an independent stylist, she sometimes struggles to find pieces that an agency will have no trouble acquiring.


Though she discovered her passion for clothes in high school, it took her a while to realize that styling people could be her career path.


What is the most challenging thing about styling someone?


Impressing them and having them like what I choose. It’s important to know their style so that you know what to get. Sometimes you think that a certain outfit will work, but when you show it to them, it doesn’t. That’s scary It’s important to impress them and have them feel comfortable in what they’re wearing because my style might not be your style.


Has someone ever been unimpressed with how you styled them?


Yes, when I was styling my friends. I always pick something that I’d like, and I shouldn’t do that because it’s not for me. But I do that because I know my friends' style since they love mine. If it’s not what they're looking for, I go out again and look for something new.


Where do you do most of your shopping?


I alternate between brand name stores and thrifting. Thrifting is cheaper, and I usually buy multiple outfits for multiple people. But I do like mix-matching. I get inspiration from the stores and mannequins, then I go to the thrift store and look for the same thing.


What is your favorite project so far?


I styled a singer, Kaira. I met her in high school. I styled her for an event, “I have 2020 vision tour.” She reached out to me because she knew that I was into styling. She wanted me to style her or a show. It was fun. It was good to professionally style someone.


Was that your first project for an event?

Yes, it was my very first professional, paid, budgeted and everything. It was cool. It was literally right before the pandemic.


Is it enough to sustain you?


At this moment, no, because I am starting off so slow. As a beginner, I am not making a lot of money, but that comes with more recognition and work. I hope internships will help me gain more experience. I’ve been working at Ann Taylor, and learning from one of my managers, who styles the store to get experience. All these experiences will help me to find a good place to start making money that could sustain me.


Which celebrity would you like to style and why?


Selena Gomez. She’s the reason why I like fashion so much. She was the first celebrity that I really fell in love with. She was a big role model for me. I saw her doing different fashionable things. I loved her outfits. I said to myself, “I wish I could put somebody into clothes like that.” From seeing her, and seeing people styling her, I noticed that was something that I was passionate about.


What look would you give her?


Her style has changed so much now. She’s so casual. If we talk about 2017 Selena, I will do a pretty bodycon dress, with layering with coat and high boots.


What would be your preferred project?


A red-carpet event because they do so many fittings and try-ons. And you must go to different places to look for different gowns. I think that would be the most fun project that I could do.


What is your least favorite thing about your styling?


It is a very lonely industry. You must do things by yourself. If you are with an agency, they sometimes help you look for things. Since I am not signed with one, it gets hard to find things sometimes. And I am just a beginner.


How has the pandemic affected your business?


I had a bunch of projects with my friends. We were going to do a photoshoot, and I was going to be their stylist. This was supposed to happen in the springtime. Also, I would have been working with the singer that I styled before the pandemic started. She had a tour in the beginning of the year, but of course, she had to cancel it.


What are your plans when business resumes?


I was going to go to London to study, but because of the pandemic, I’m not. I am looking for an internship. Some are unpaid, but I don’t really care if it’s paid or not. I just want to experience and learn from whoever I am working with.


How do you see fashion changing?


With this pandemic, I think there are going to be so much casual wear now. No one is going to be wearing suits anymore, since no one is going to the office. There are going to be a lot of jeans, sweaters. Something that you could put on quickly.


For the future, do you see yourself as just a stylist?


After being in the city for so long, and seeing how cool people style windows, mannequins, and storefronts, I realized that I wanted to do more. For example, magazines use designers for the sets of photo-shoots, and that’s also a type of styling. My major is visual studies, so that’s all part of the same thing. So that’s something that I would love to dive into as well.


What are your goals?


I definitely see myself being well-known. Being able to do as much as I can while I am still young. That way when I am older and need to settle down, I would be stable. I don’t want to be a millionaire because I think that is unnecessary. All I need is a good amount of money that I could be stable and happy.