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Julie Matos is a triple threat. Stylist, fashion editor, and costume designer, she is on the road to being one of the next great fashion personalities. With a strong background in commercials and advertising, she has lately been dabbling in more editorial and creative projects (she's the one who came up with the clever Orbitz umbrella dress and she is the fashion editor for a fashion magazine in Dubai). She works on all this in her newly renovated Harlem townhouse, which houses her styling and design studios. We chatted over cappuccinos at the Ace Hotel last week and she told me all about her fashionable life.
How did you get into styling?
I've always been a really big fan of vintage and thrifting, and I've always loved to sketch and create. I went to school for merchandising and design, and started working at Filene's. I would create these huge runway productions with the store, with these massive $100,000 budgets. There were so many clothes that we would organize them by color from light to dark (to match the color story of the runway lineup) and create these great looks. This was when I kind of fell into styling. I still use that color system today, for any size shoot big or small, and in my own closet. I pride myself on being incredibly organized, and because I'm very visual, I need to see everything laid out perfectly.
What's your personal style and how does it translate into your work, regardless of the client?
I love haute couture, I mean who doesn't? I really love vintage Parisian opulence. The feeling you get in the air in Paris, it is like nothing else. After all the intricate costume designs I've been doing, I have a whole new appreciation for couture and its construction. I keep it eclectic and love mixing vintage. This type of attitude towards fashion and dressing are what allow you to solve fashion problems on the fly and be much more creative with an overall look.
What is your go-to outfit?
I live in dresses and jackets. A really beautiful, bold jacket piece will completely make the statement of your outfit. I love the Lanvin shoulder, something exaggerated. Whether they are fitted and hit at the waist or in a long boyfriend cut, a great jacket is crucial.
Do you have any die hard brands or designers?
I love Chanel and will always go back to it, they really do vintage glamour right. But it's not all about designer, you have to mix high and low. You don't need to wear expensive clothes to be stylish, you just have to wear the right combination of things and accessorize.
What is your latest obsession?
Lip color. I'm obsessed with Make Up Is Forever's matte lipsticks, they can really make a statement about your outfit. I love their reds, corals, and pinks. I think their blue is great, and I'll maybe eventually work my way to black.
Favorite items for this season?
Skinny leather pants are a must. Paired with cozy oversized sweaters and bold lip colors, they are a great wardrobe for Fall. I also am in love with capes, detachable fur collars to throw over simple pieces, and bold boots.
Any major fashion disasters you've had to overcome?
Yes--the carriage house disaster! We were doing a big shoot at this beautiful carriage house in Beverly Hills. I had tons of boxes that needed to be moved into the house, so we had them piled everywhere. One of them got placed on top of the electric stove, and when an assistant accidentally hit the pilot light, the boxes began to cook! $20,000 worth of designer shoes could have gone up in flames, not to mention the entire house, the other boxes, and everything in them. Thankfully, the stove was electric and we caught it in time that nothing was ruined, but it was a nightmare! I would have never gotten hired again.
Any stylist secrets or tricks you can share with us?
My styling kit is full of solutions. Just the other day I used silly bands to ruche the arms of a top and place them where I wanted. Chopsticks are the best way to tuck a top smoothly into a skirt or fitted pair of pants. And I always have a lot of plumbing tape on me -- you can use it for everything from popping up collars to stiffening up the brim of a shoe.
Who is your dream client?
I would love to dress Leighton Meester again. She was such a dream to work with and has such surprising style. I also think Frida Pinto is stunning for young Hollywood. I want to dress the Chanels of the world, and I lend my creativity to British print magazines, so anything for them as well.
What advice would you give to young stylists?
You have to be a problem solver and be prepared. To succeed, you have to always know what the next move is -- if there is a problem, the answer is never no, you have to do it or make it or fix it -- you just have to make it happen. Once I had to make a hat in under 10 minutes for Carrie Underwood. It's also not uncommon to find me fashioning a pair of gloves out of tights or shoving plumbing tape under, behind, or around clothes that are already on a model.