10 Questions for Fashion Stylist Eryka Clayton

I first met Eryka Clayton last April when I was shooting in NYC for Spirit and Flesh Magazine. I was very impressed with her professionalism and I must admit, I was even more impressed with her pull. She pulled some amazing pieces for our shoot and I think that’s probably where my girl crush started. I’ll always admire a person who has impeccable taste in fashion. Over the months, we kept in contact and two months ago we spoke together at Photoville in Dumbo, NYC about the love affair between fashion editor and fashion photographer. We also nailed down another story together that you’ll see soon, the one we shot in Harlem. I asked Eryka to answer Breed’s 10 questions and here are her answers! Trust me, she’s one to watch! This girl is going to rule the world one day. I adore her!

At what age did you start becoming fascinated with fashion?

When I was 14, I was modeling in New York City and while backstage at a runway show I became captivated by the show director. She had such a grip on the designer’s vision and she orchestrated it into a dream-like show. From working with hair and makeup, the styling team, the lighting designer, DJ, and even the models, she was creative directing the shit out of it! She was fashion’s version of a rock star. I remember thinking, I want to be her!

How did you prepare for a career in styling?

I ended up apprenticing with that show director and learned the ropes from the inside. And….. learned to sew.

 PHOTO BY ANTHONY ELGORT

PHOTO BY ANTHONY ELGORT

How do you stay updated on the current trends?

I don’t. Rather than focusing on trends I tend to hone in on finding some point of inspiration that has an authenticity or connection to what I’m creating. I pay close attention to the contemporary art world for inspiration. Art and fashion are hugely connected for me.

How important is Fashion Week for you?

Very! As it’s impossible to see everything during fashion week, I prioritize the shows with the most theatrical elements (for inspiration) and the shows of my favorite designers.

 PHOTO BY FRANKIE BATISTA

PHOTO BY FRANKIE BATISTA

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to be a creative producer and curator. Styling is a part of that. I am doing that work now everyday. I’m still building the empire so I guess I’m already living my dream.

How important is communication between yourself and the photographer that you’ll be working with? What sorts of things do you do to prepare yourself for an upcoming shoot?

Communication is vital!  First we decide on a creative direction and create a moodboard. From there, the location gets organized, models get chosen, wardrobe gets pulled, and hair and make up collaborators get brought on board for what they can add to the vision. That’s a lot to get done so we stay looped in with each other through the process. Then I make sure to have my looks pre-styled before arriving to set. I like to have at least 4-5 extra looks ready to go just in case we need them.

 PHOTO BY ANTHONY ELGORT

PHOTO BY ANTHONY ELGORT

What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself taking your styling career?

I plan on growing my editorial and advertising presence. I recently moved back to NYC after being in Los Angeles for eight years and I’m really loving the work here. There are so many magazines and advertising projects here so I’m going to focus on them here in NYC. Also, with NYC being a home to the fashion industry and so many brilliant artists, it is fertile ground for growing my publication The Collective Magazine. I’m excited for the new adventures ahead.

Name the top three things in your styling kit that are must-haves?

Gaffer tape in black and beige. Big safety pins in black, silver, and gold. Needle and thread.

 PHOTO BY FRANKIE BATISTA

PHOTO BY FRANKIE BATISTA

Advice for the up-and-coming fashion stylists up there?

Assist!!! Stay humble! Do the tasks. Ask questions. Always say please and thank you. Test test test! If you are assisting a stylist on set make friends with the photographer’s assistant. Most likely they will be thrilled to test with you. You can come up together in the industry.

Favorite all time designer?

Halston.

Melissa Rodwell