At 17 years old, Wilford Lenov began interning for the lead fashion designer for American Apparel. With the aspirations to graduate a nurse, he had no idea that he would soon style the likes of Ashanti, Bebe Rexha and Olivia Culpo. Once exposed to the industry, Wilford gained a unique clientele with a variety of personal styles – each creating a new challenge for Wilford to conquer.
Lapalme Magazine was given the chance to talk with Wilford, who gives us his favorite boutiques to shop Online!
LM: Tell me about yourself and your career so far?
W: Through American Apparel I met photographers and started styling the campaigns for the company. This led me to some product development for the company and styling the winter displays. There was also a lot of in-house styling I was doing at such a young age. Through that, I met an editor for Nylon and my first clients and it just snowballed. It all happened so fast and I didn’t even realize what I was getting myself into. I’ve had plenty of moments in my career; I’ve done Vogue Russia, Harpers Bazaar, and Nylon. I’ve worked with tons of celebrities. Currently, I’m working with Bebe Rexha, Ashanti, and this new boy band called Why Don’t We. It’s strange to hear myself talk about everything I’ve been doing, but it’s rewarding. It was a cool snowball effect. I still keep in contact with everyone I’ve worked with and its awesome to see their career blossoming. I’ve been with Bebe since she released Me Myself and I, about 7 years ago.
LM: How do you choose which looks work for each individual client?
W: I sit down with the client and feel their vibe, talk to them. A lot of times, artists already have a visual or an understanding of where they want to go, but they don’t know exactly how to perfect it. Something I try to do is get into their mode. For example, Ashanti right now is working on a new album and she’s very bo-ho with an island vibe. Her whole aesthetic right now is a lot of sparkles, prints and her hair is a beach wave. With Bebe, she’s more into a rock and roll blondie vibe, and we’re doing that whole world with her. I feel like it’s a mutual or collaborative thing.
LM: Do you have any style philosophies that you swear by for all of your clients?
W: One thing I learned is always be nice to people. A lot of stylists go into it thinking they’re the final say and they know exactly what they’re talking about. But you really have to humble yourself, you’re human and these people are human. It’s about coming together with the client. A lot of stylists have a niche, like glam, but my clients are really a variety of everything. One of my special things is that I’m like a chameleon with my people.
LM: What do you think is the biggest misconception people not in your field have about stylists?
W: Every time I get this bubbly bushy tailed girl from FIDM thinking they’re going to go on set, meet their celebrity crush and they’re going to pick them up and that’s it. But the truth is, it’s a lot of hard work. I’ve seen so many stylists come and go because they don’t realize it’s a lot of hard work. It took me about four years until I started actually getting paid from styling. A lot of young stylists go into it thinking they’re going to be the best in 5/6 months.
LM: How would you describe your personal style?
W: The style I love to see myself in is old Hollywood, tucking the t-shirt into your trousers vibe. I wear a lot of “comfortable chic” because I’m really big on ‘embracing you and doing you’
LM: What challenges have you faced as a stylist so far?
W: I’ve seen it all, omg. This is going to be a “me too” moment but at 19 I was offered a huge cover placement in exchange for sexual favors by a photographer. This happens to people that come across weak or alone, maybe even desperate. When I first started, I was in awe by the offers of huge cover placements, but I would not exchange my morals for that. Now I am doing wonderful and I’ve never seen that guy again. There were moments I thought “is this worth it?” but the more I talk to other stylists, I see a lot of us go through that process. It’s such a fast paced world that if you don’t progress or have a certain stamp, you’re not going to last. I’ve seen it and it sucks, but its just the industry we’re in.
LM: What are some of the trends you’re loving at the moment?
W: What I love is that there isn’t really a trend at the moment. If you ask 5 different people, you’ll get 5 different responses. Television is beginning to embrace individuality and that might be the trend. I love that there’s so many different eras together because It goes back to the fact we’re in such a weird spot in our society, we’re all trying to find who we are, what’s new and what’s fresh. I don’t think self-expression should go away.
LM: What are your favorite sites for online shopping?
W: For myself, I love ASOS. They have a great plus size collection with great quality. For my clients, I love Net-A-Porter. If you’re balling on a budget, I would say Fashion Nova, Top Shop, American Apparel. I online shop when I’m traveling somewhere and I’m unable to pull it. Net-A-Porter and Yoox are great when you’re unable to pull from stores or going somewhere without a huge fashion scene.
Interview by: Dakota LaPalme @kotasaurus
Photographs provided by Wilfred Lenov