When we turn the spotlight on stylists at Luckymag.com, it’s generally to discuss the work of celebrity dressers responsible for making our favorite A-listers look their best. But in fact, magazines and the advertising world are equally reliant upon the work of stylists; the former for taking editor-selected samples and turning them into a story, the latter for building a beautiful, covetable lifestyle around a single brand via a print or digital campaign. Essentially, stylists are the great storytellers of the style industry—and Lori Goldstein’s one of the absolute best in the business.
A native Midwesterner who’s loved clothes her entire life, Goldstein cut her teeth working for Fred Segal (yes, the actual man behind the iconic Los Angeles boutique) on the West Coast and then alongside the likes of Patricia Field and Anna Sui in Manhattan. Before long, she started teaming up with the world’s most famous photographers, including Steven Meisel and Annie Leibovitz—and creating some of the most recognized ad campaigns of the ’80s and ’90s. Now, her famously maximalist aesthetic and goundbreaking body of work have been captured in a new book, Lori Goldstein: Style Is Instinct (out tomorrow), which is bound to be a new coffee-table favorite for editors everywhere. Read on for our chat with the stylist, in which we discuss her career beginnings, her more-is-more fashion philosophy and the difference between styling models versus celebrities.
Lucky: First things first: tell us a bit about how you got your start in such a competitive industry.
Lori Goldstein: Well, it all really started when I moved to L.A. after high school and started working with Fred Segal at his boutique. Fred brought me to New York, and that’s where I met Anna Sui at Fiorucci, Pat Field and Marc Jacobs. I always knew that I loved clothes, but didn’t want to be involved with the dollars side of the equation—and styling seemed to be the perfect way to do that.
Your personal mantra, which is printed right on the front jacket of your books, is "everything goes with anything." Can you explain exactly what that means?
I truly do believe in that idea–it’s how I dress and how I style. I think we’re seeing people mix and match so much more right now—just because you’ve got on a striped t-shirt doesn’t mean it can’t work with a floral print! Proportion’s a big part of the idea, too, mixing things that are oversized with pieces that aren’t. It’s a bold way of dressing and a fun way of dressing. I think in the past, fashion came with a lot of attached rules…but as a woman, why have rules at all? I think there’s a great freedom that comes along with mixing and matching in fashion.
Which do you prefer: styling designer campaigns or magazine editorials?
Well, I feel really blessed in that I truly love both equally. If I’m working with Versace, for example, I love the process of getting into the head of the Versace woman—someone that I personally am not at all! It’s the same with my collection for QVC…getting into the mindset of that woman is so fun for me. Of course, editorials really speak to my love of clothes, because I get to call in anything and everything, which gives me great joy. That’s part of the reason that I think being a stylist rather than an editor really suits me, because I love it all. It’s sort of the answer a designer might give, but I just love beautiful objects, and I think there’s an artistry to interpreting these clothes into a message.
What’s one thing you can never have enough of?
Happiness. Liking what you do and who you’re with. Being happy is everything.
Who are a few of your favorite style icons?
I’m obsessed with Marisa Berenson—every time I see her, she just blows my mind. I don’t even know her age, and it doesn’t matter. She’s stunning. Cate Blanchett’s another woman I admire—I think she’s extraordinary. Not only does she take chances, but she’s true to herself. That’s what I find beautiful: women who are true to themselves.
Your book is broken down into four sections, each with a different title. Are those meant to represent a timeline of your body of work, or…?
It’s not really a timeline, it’s more just who I am as a person and as a stylist. "The Sickness" is this great place I get to go—mostly with Steven Meisel, who’s a very dear friend of mine. When we work together, we push things almost to the edge of ugliness, but the look doesn’t quite go there. It’s sort of a twisted perception of life that’s not always conventionally pretty. I get to call in a lot of couture for those shoots. Then, "The Divine" is very much about my work with [photographer] Paolo Roversi, and these images of incredible lightness. "Harmonious Discord" is about mixing and matching, combining colors and patterns and textures—which is the way I dress, as I said before. And "Pop"…I was very privileged to start working with Annie Leibovitz before the word "celebrity" even really existed as it does now, but it’s about our work with people who are of great acclaim in their respective fields, be it music or film or something else. Like the Gap campaign [in 1989], which was really groundbreaking in that it cast famous people—it was the first to do so.
Do you approach working with a celebrity differently than you would with a model?
Of course. Models know they’re part of an equation, along with a certain designer or brand. They’re used to taking on any role that’s needed. With someone who’s famous—well, for starters, many of them don’t have model bodies. And they’re very aware of their own style and what they’re comfortable wearing. When I styled Octavia Spencer for W, I remember her being very nervous about the clothes I might bring to the set—and I had to remind her that there would be many, many options. I never just bring one dress, and I’d never want someone to be uncomfortable in what they’re wearing. That said, it’s fun to suggest options and to push women to try something they never thought they could wear. There have been so many times when, after a shoot, someone’s said to me, "I would have never worn that before now—but now I know I can!" It opens up this whole new world for them.
What’s the one styling job you’re most proud of from throughout your entire career thus far?
I’d have to say the Versace campaign with Steven [Meisel], because it was such a memorable time in my own life. We worked with Pat McGrath and Orlando Pita and it just felt like I was spending a few days hanging out with friends—having a blast and calling it work.
Preorder Lori Goldstein: Style Is Instinct now at Amazon.com.