Thursday, 26 March 2009

Sasha Leibowitz

Recently I caught up with 'pocket rocket' stylist and fashion editor of KAREN magazine, Sasha Leibowitz to discuss what it takes to make a career out of styling and to find out what makes her creative mind tick.....

1. Describe yourself in a sentence.

Can I use more than one sentence?

2. Tell us about your creative journey to becoming a stylist.

To sum it up, my journey began interning as the coffee girl at Russh Magazine. I passed up an opportunity at University based on sheer intuition at a magazine that had barely been around a month. While I was there, interns came and went, deterred by the prospect of no future positions on offer at the magazine, however I was determined to stick it out and after almost a year my dedication to the magazine was noticed gaining myself title on the Masthead assisting one of the biggest stylists at the time in Australia. From here on I began hands on experience assisting on huge advertising jobs, co-producing editorial work and creating relationships with some of the biggest names in our industry.

As the years of hard work continued I assisted various top stylists working on major publications and international advertorial and styling jobs. Grazia UK, Harpers, Myer campaigns, etc however after time I cautiously began moving away from assisting and started freelancing on my own, doing loads of tests and building a personal folio. I exerted all my energy into my book and eventually gained a well-respected personal profile in the industry and landed representation at a creative agency.

As fate had it, one of my first test shoots was submitted and published to an international magazine called KAREN. The editor contacted me personally and asked me to come on board the magazine team, flying me to New Zealand Fashion week that following week. To this day I work as the Fashion Editor on KAREN Magazine which is published throughout the major fashion capitals of the world. The position has sent me across waters to view shows and shoot editorials in New York, Paris & London.

After two years being at KAREN I was offered a position which had me relocate as the Fashion Coordinator at Harpers Bazaar Australia. This was an incredible experience and took me to the top of my game and fulfilled my youngest memorable childhood dream job. It was a hard work environment which tested my strengths and weaknesses and allowed me to be privy to the most luxurious work and social scene as well as access to viewing all imaginable luxury brands however as time went on I couldn’t resist the copious amount of interesting work that was being offered to me externally, not the mention my love for KAREN, which had been put on standby.

At present I am freelancing and working on KAREN in between travel. I have the most phenomenal editor who inspires and guides me professionally and personally on a daily basis, and happens to be part of the reason I love what I do.

I seem to have created a perfect balance between an intense work load filled with copious amounts of research and physical hard work, keeping on top of current trends and industry mayhem with a healthy social lifestyle and a glass of good wine to finish off each job and think about the journey still to come…

3. What has been your career highlight so far?

One particular standout job being my most recent involvement with Vanity Fair magazine which flew over to shoot Cate Blanchette with world renown iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz. Having one on one interaction with such a pivotal and inspirational figure of our time, was a real honour. She is a modern day living legend, who has influenced fashion and the industry for so many years. Being able to work with her in such an intense and close work environment is an experience that will remain prominent in my mind forever.

4. What inspires you on a daily basis?

Other creative artists.

I spend hours researching and awing over other artists work, and designs. When I see creations from particular international designers, magazines and stylists, I am inspired to work harder than ever so that one day I too am able to work in an environment one day where I have pieces like this at my disposal on any given day on any given shoot with opportunities to shoot with world renown photographers who have such innovative vision and creative minds. This is what drives me each and every day so that one-day people will be viewing my work and feeling inspired to get to that same place.

5. What advice can you offer aspiring stylists out there?

I think I still have a lot to learn, but I can definitely guide you from my personal experiences…

For those at the beginning of your career, intern and assist as much as possible. This is the only way that you can get that raw experience of what being a stylist involves and you are able to learn from those who have had years of experience and are particularly talented within their field. This is the kind of exposure you can never learn from any textbook. On top of interning at the magazine, I assisted 3 phenomenal stylists for over 2 years which was incredibly hard work, with minimal pay or recognition however I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. By assisting, I was exposed to every element of being a successful stylist, as well as learning from their mistakes and disappointments and knowing how to improve on these when I began my own career.

I would also like to stress how much work being a stylist actually is. It is so far from glamorous as most would think. It is long hours, excruciating shoot days and incredibly draining at times. (And this is after being an assistant.. which is even harder!) At time you have to be able to deal with less than desirable characters, and know how to not let them pull you down, or distract you from your goals. (To be blunt, ‘The Devil wears Prada’ WAS based around actual people!)

However, if you are determined enough to rise above these obstacles they become insignificant in relation to the incredible opportunities that lay before you in this career path. Endless travel, couture and high fashion, runway shows, working on magazines, exposure to media, celebrities and models, creating beauty and art, and most importantly, influencing style to any length. If this is something you are truly passionate about, you most definitely should strive to get it..
and always make time for those who are important to you…. And DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY!

6. What are you working on right now?

I am doing a fair bit of personal styling which is something I have decided to expand on due to so much interest from clients.

For some of my clients, I am personally styling them for specific events or functions, alternately, I am working with others to completely revamp there wardrobe and create a new style for them which they feel comfortable and confident in. I work with them around their existing wardrobe sourcing key pieces that they should either concentrate on or dispose of and then depending on their desired budget I will personally shop with them or externally, to update there style and look.

In terms of editorial work, I have just finished shooting a story for Oyster Magazine this week which I am really pleased with and as always I am working on the next issue of KAREN. I have two phenomenal yet very different concepts that I am working on for two separate shoots, and with one of my favourite photographers too.

I adore working on KAREN shoots as I have complete creative control over each story, using ideas that I mould from scratch with endless possibilities, any form of style, location and theme. It is every stylists dream to have this type of freedom. It is the only place where I can really unleash my creativity and have no boundaries which not surprisingly still excites me every time I work on the magazine. The shoot I am working on is a product of an actual dream I had over a month ago that had a big impact on me.

Below are some behind the scenes shots from the photo-shoot Sasha styled for the current Winter issue of KAREN magazine.

To see more of Sasha's inspiring work and to check out KAREN magazine, follow the links below


marian said...

nice surprise - love that girl x she is truly talented unique and with a heart of gold

marian said...

What a nice surprise - love that girl x she is truly talented unique and with a heart of gold and no surprises why she is successful, Sasha works very hard and gives her everything.

kirstie said...

this is so inspiring! i have more hope now :)

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic talent! I saw the shoot in Karen, it's beautiful AND original. Great advice too. Just found your Blog and as a fellow FBI student I look forward to seeing where it take you :)

Call Me Cat said...

Such an inspiring woman! :)

Cat ! x

* Lucy * said...

this was such an insightful and inspiring post, thankyou! xx