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Featured Interview with Stylist Cheryl Simmons

Carlos: What is the inspiration behind the pursuit of you becoming a stylist?

Cheryl: I love shopping and styling people. When I was little I used to dress up my Barbie dolls and cut up their clothes to make them look unique. I did the same thing with my clothes, I just liked looking different. When I was in school I was a bit of a tom boy, I liked wearing baggy bottoms with fitted shirts. However I liked dressing up. With styling editorials you can use your imagination and get very creative with your work. I like that!

Carlos: What do you enjoy most about your job?

Cheryl: Being around designer clothes and shoes! I also enjoy meeting new people and building new relationships.

Carlos: Who are some of the celebrities you got a chance to work with?

Cheryl: I haven’t really worked with celebrities like that, yet. When I was interning with a celebrity stylist we did a shoot with a magazine and Jessica White was one of the models. Also Christy Turlington was one of her clients and she dressed her for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame awards. So that is the closest I have gotten to with working with celebrities. Although I would like to head down that route.

Carlos: What are some of your most recent ad campaigns you work on?

Cheryl: I don’t really do ad campaigns mostly editorials or styling models for fashion shows. The last ad campaign I did was for Marketa NY accessories.

Carlos: Who are some of the great fashion designers you admire and what impact have they had on you?

Cheryl: My favorite designers are Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacob, Dolce & Gabbana and the late Gianni Versace.  The impact they had on me is that I got more comfortable with color and taking risks with fashion. In the past I pulled away from color and I didn’t like using or wearing things that looked different. Now I am the opposite, I love color and I try to take risks with the wardrobe when I am styling. These designers do that with all of their collections and I am drawn to that.

Carlos: What are some of the things you would like to change about the fashion industry?

Cheryl: Wow, good question. I would like to see more African Americans front row at the fashion shows and on the runways. They are so many of us that are talented but we are not given the opportunity to show it. I can count on one hand how many of us are front row and for me that isn’t good. I would really like to change the perception of how the fashion industry is supposed to look. Color shouldn’t matter only talent.

Carlos: Do you find keeping up with the latest trends and trying to project something new from what’s current, a bit challenging at times?

Cheryl: Yes because some people don’t like change and in this industry everyone has their views on what they think is hot. You can take a trend that is current and try to do something with it so it can be different but everyone is not going to like it. Some people like staying in a “comfort zone” without challenging themselves. I use to be like that but I know in order to survive in this business you have to challenge yourself and go the distance. I don’t always follow new trends but if I do I try to make it my own.

Carlos: Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Cheryl: I see myself being a successful designer and stylist. I am constantly thinking of new ways to challenge myself and to take my career to the next level. Staying relevant is hard in this industry because there are so many of us now so I have to stay focused at all times.

Carlos: In the future would you ever consider starting your own clothing line?

Cheryl: I have an AA degree in fashion design so that is where I started. I started a clothing line in 2003 with a college friend but we ended up parting ways and I continued on. I am still doing it but I pulled back from it because I got in deep with styling. With so many celebrities over crowding the market with their clothing lines I got nervous because I didn’t think there was room for real designers to come in. However I haven’t totally given up on it because I still sketch and sew a lot so I am ready to bring my clothing line back to life. It will probably be a bit challenging but I am up for it.

Carlos: Alot of today’s fashions are simply reincarnations from the 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s but with a updated youth. What makes your keen sense of style that much more creative and unique then what we are already seeing?

Cheryl: Because I try to take risks and do things differently. That’s what fashion is all about. I remember Alexander McQueen’s spring 2001 collection and he did these dresses with a castle on it and a branch with birds. I thought you can do that? I am not as talented as him but I try to think outside the box and be creative.

Carlos: If fashion was not in your life, what would you be doing today?

Cheryl: (Laughing) I recently visited my mother back home in South Carolina because that is where I’m from. I was reading my year book and inside I said how I wanted to become a lawyer and go into the military. That is so not me. I wanted to do that because my parents said so and I was never asked what I wanted to do. Since I was little I always loved fashion and I use to dream about becoming a model. I didn’t think that you can make fashion a career until when I was leaving to go to boot camp and I was reading Glamour or Vogue magazine. I came across an ad for design school so I applied and I got accepted. I can’t think of anything else that I would love to do other than fashion.

Carlos: As a stylist, what are the do’s and don’ts to wearing denim, depending on the size and shape of your body?

Cheryl: Do avoid denim with flap pockets if you have a “big booty” because it tends to add emphasis on it and you don’t want that so be mindful of pockets when buying denim. If you have a “little booty” flap pockets would work for you. “Balance your silhouette” so Don’t wear wide leg jeans with a loose shirt and skinny jeans with a fitted shirt.

Carlos: Do you have any tips on what’s hot for this spring and what we might be seeing on the Runway?

Cheryl: Military inspired, Tribal, vests, wide leg pants, embellished dresses, multi prints, clogs and bell skirts are some trends that were on the runways for spring 2010. One of the hottest looks is the multi strap dress which Halle Berry recently wore a nude Gucci version of the trend and she looked stunning of course. To wear a dress like that you would need a good strapless bra. Vests for spring is a good layering piece when worn over dresses and tops which was seen on the runway at the 3.1 Phillip Lim fashion show. Fold over necklines is also a key trend for spring because it shows off your face and it’s like a new neckline. It’s not a V or off the shoulder look but sort of a draped neckline.

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