A Conversation with

Elle Werlin

Elle Werlin is a New York City-based stylist who抯 as versatile as she is talented. She抯 styled everything from editorial shoots to television commercials to advertising campaigns to celebrity red-carpet moments and she抯 also behind the fashion at Backstage Las Vegas. Werlin抯 life is fast-paced and exciting, and she brings her unique background (which includes stints living abroad in the C魌e d扐zur and Barcelona) into her work. Her signature style melds what she calls 揈uropean grandeur with 搒treet and vintage accents to create a provocative and sensual brand of elegance.

Whether she抯 working with Beyonc or appearing on television as the host of TLC抯 揅over Shot, Werlin is able to aptly convey her unique style and point of view. We were able to speak with the stylist to ask how she approaches her varied projects, what she deems the best hair accessories, how hairstylists attire could affect the client experience and more.

When you look at a customer, how do you determine the look that suits him or her?
Being a great stylist means understanding each client and his or her different needs, tastes and shapes. One of my most satisfying moments as a celebrity stylist was styling a petite singer who had a triple-D chest, short torso and curvy shape. I used all of those beautiful but demanding elements to make her look and feel like a star.

First, when you抮e curvy and have a large chest, you should avoid prints, ruffles and embroidery in the bust area and focus on solid-color scoop or V-neck dresses with an A-line hem and a fantastic wide belt. The belt will help add definition and show off your curves.

Do you approach your work differently when you抮e styling a shoot with a celebrity versus an unknown model versus a private client?
The priorities change in terms of what clothes I am pulling. When I style a photo shoot with a model, that抯 when I can be the most creative and avant-garde because there抯 not an image I need to manage. However, with a celebrity or private client, they have an image and lifestyle. Like all of us, this means they have boundaries for what they抣l wear.

How do you find inspiration and identify trends? What do you read, watch, look at, listen to?
One of my favorite pastimes is seeing the latest art exhibits at the MoMA, Whitney and Met. The majority of fashion shows each season are inspired by a painter, sculptor and/or filmmaker. I also collect vintage fashion magazines, and fashion or photography books that I reference constantly.
You抳e worked with Oribe before. How did that collaboration work? Oribe is an unequivocal genius as a hairstylist and art director. For example, the last time we worked together, he roughly sketched this breathtaking cape during our meeting. Oribe is so gifted in delivering his message with unsurpassed clarity that I saw his vision as if he had just shown me a photograph.

What designer makes the best hair accessories?
Stephen Jones, Eugenia Kim and Ellen Christine are the most consistent in high quality.

Any hair tricks you use to get a complete look?
Keeping the necklines low and the shoulders bare allows one抯 eye to focus on the hair without realizing it.

If you were to open to a salon, what would it look like? What would the dress code be?
The look would be something simple and chic that reflects the vibe of the salon. For example, if it抯 a beach-town salon, let抯 say Ibiza, I would have the women hairdressers in azul-blue linen-like shirtdresses. Then they could add a belt, pumps, gladiator sandals and so on, to make it their own.

For male hairdressers, the best look which is worn by the Oribe team is a white button-down, black slim pants and black tie. It keeps everyone looking sharp, as well as uniformed.

Salons are always doing photos shoots. Any tips on how to do the styling卆nd how to do it affordably and fashionably?
Less is more, so if anyone is on a tight budget, then getting three amazing images is much stronger than six mediocre images. Since any hair-focused shoot is primarily from the waist up, the concentration should be on jewelry, combined with the right makeup and hair. Focus on easy, interchangeable pieces.

Consider bold accessories, such as a chunky necklace, bangles and earrings. Then, switch out the necklace for a scarf, or a multi-chain look. These accessories can be found very inexpensively at places like Forever21 or H&M.

What roles do makeup and hair play in completing the fashion looks you create?
Without great hair and makeup, an outfit is just an article of clothing.

What do you think the biggest fashion faux pas is? Hair faux pas? Fashion-and-hair-combo faux pas?
A big fashion faux pas is to wear any loud-colored velour or cotton track suit with horrible tattoo-like embroidery and Uggs. To make the ultimate fashion faux pas would be to add a trucker hat with studs, graffiti or tattoo-like embroidery to the ensemble. To finish it, imagine overdone makeup with hair that is sorely neglected hiding under the trucker hat.

Can what a hairstylist wears affect a client抯 experience?
Absolutely. I think it抯 best to keep it simple in color or style, without making it look too uniformed, like a factory.

What has been your most memorable styling gig so far?
There are so many, for numerous reasons from styling my first celebrity client to working with icons like Lenny Kravitz. Then there was working with Beyonc for her Der閛n campaigns, and fashion hosting on television, which led me to be part of the Costume Designers Guild, to brand consulting for BGN Paris.

A gig is always exciting and never fails to leave a mark. Even the bad shoots are memorable because things can get so bad that it抯 comical.

Dream client?
Cate Blanchett or Madonna because they both have fabulous taste Cate because she抯 more chic and classic, and Madonna because she will take risks.

What is your hair philosophy?
There is nothing better than getting a blowout.

Your favorite Oribe product?
Supershine Moisturizing Cream, but I love all the products. I抦 addicted to the scent.

Your current state of mind?
Inspired.

- SHARON FEIEREISEN

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