meet the stylists behind 2016's most major musicians

Five rising music world image makers talk to i-D about pulling Margiela for Vic Mensa and Vetements for Travis Scott.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
05 October 2016, 4:35pm

Vic Mensa. Photography Luc Coiffait. Styling Zoe Costello. Shirt Gucci, denim Conrad, rings The Great Frog, boots Dior Homme.

In a world in which Rihanna's every hooded sweatshirt, high heel, and wine glass is photographed, discussed, and disseminated across social media, musicians' stylists have never been more important. Not only do they help artists create looks for music videos, tours, and step-and-repeats, they're part of a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week immersive image making project. Here, five stylists behind some of today's most exciting acts discuss getting their break, nailing a look, and those Hood By Air cowboy boots.

Zoe Costello (Vic Mensa, MØ)

How did you get your start as a stylist?
I moved over to LA about six years ago after getting my BA in fashion at London College of Fashion. I had a couple of design jobs first but it wasn't for me.

What's the #1 most fun thing about working with Vic?
The first shoot I worked on with him, in around January of this year, I could tell he had a pretty unique look, he brought a big bag of vintage to our shoot with some pieces he got at the flea market. Vic is not afraid to push boundaries, which for a stylist is always fun.

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
I always love a look that has some sort of juxtaposition to it, for example if I have MØ wearing a dress I like to toughen it up with a more masculine shoe like an oxford or flatform. For Vic, I love the juxtaposition of something from a thrift store that is really beat-up with a more clean ready-to-wear piece. And then there's always a little bit of punk or rock 'n' roll inspiration.

What would be your advice to young stylists who are just starting out?
Remember to enjoy the process. And hustle!


Natasha Newman-Thomas (Future, Florence Welch)

How did you get your start as a stylist?
From as early as I can remember I've been obsessed with making outfits. I would create a look out of an oversized floral shirt with a towel wrapped around and safety pinned as a skirt topped off with some orange patent Dr. Scholl's. My career began when I left art school in Chicago and moved back to Los Angeles (my hometown) to go to helicopter school. Once I was back, a friend started hiring me as an assistant costume designer. It quickly became apparent that my talents are better utilized in the styling and costume realm than aviation.

How did you begin working with Florence? And what's the most exciting thing about collaborating with her?
Vincent Haycock, a director with whom I often work, did the "Lover to Lover" video several years ago, which began my collaboration with Florence. I then spent all of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 working on Florence's long-form music video project The Odyssey, and we traveled all over the world. Florence put herself in very vulnerable positions and has always been really up for anything in that way. Her willingness to expose herself on every level for her art is really inspiring.

What was the styling process like with Future?
I love working with Grant Singer, the director of the "Wicked" video. He is one of the most charismatic people I've ever met and loves to push boundaries, which is like a dream come true for someone like me who gets giddy by taking things as far as they can in that sort of context.

If someone were to say "that's a very Natasha Newman-Thomas look," what do you think they would mean?
I've always been fascinated by the sociology of fashion, which explains my interest in costume and character development. I like to help people realize what they want to express and how to do it in the most fun way. Fashion and garment construction also happen to be the art form I get most often excited about. There is usually at least one garment or item every season that moves me into an out-of-body experience. So far this season it's the double-facing cowboy boots at Hood By Air — when I saw those I think I momentarily left the planet.


Tinashe. Image courtesy Kyle Luu.

Kyle Luu (Travis Scott, Tinashe)

How did you begin working with Travis?
I met Travis through his best friend before he got his big break; when he was working on his mixtape, "Days Before Rodeo" in 2014, that was the first time we decided to work together on a project. Two days before his video shoot for "Don't Play," I got a call from his team to style and the next thing you know, I'm on a plane. What I admire most about Travis is his inimitable energy and ability to multitask. He also has unique taste and tons of creative ideas.

What's your favorite look you've worked on with Tinashe?
Tinashe is such a chameleon — everything looks so good on her. Working with her during this season's fashion week was a lot of fun — we played around with some really cool brands like Hood By Air, Telfar, Phlemuns, and Nhu Duon. I love to experiment with her; we love anything that has more than one function — a zipper that goes all the way up her thigh or a jacket that can be flipped, worn backwards, or upside down!

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
My approach to styling is really influenced by my surroundings, whether it's working on a shoot for DIS magazine, going to the BET Hip Hop awards in Atlanta, or going to Thotlandia. New York is also a huge part of my styling influence — everyone in NYC dresses for themselves and I try to incorporate a personal touch to the looks I create.


Rae Sremmurd with Jasmine Benjamin. Image courtesy Jasmine Benjamin.

Jasmine Benjamin (Miguel, Rae Sremmurd)

How did you get your start as a stylist?
I interned at Interscope records then went on to assist stylists who worked with Outkast and Busta Rhymes. Soon after I worked for legends Chaka Khan and Roberta Flack.

What inspires you most about working with Miguel?
I knew Miguel when he was a teenager, then reconnected while I was living in New York in 2012. I love working with artists who like to take bold risks. The transformation has been the most exciting part. In his latest video, with Schoolboy Q, he was loving anything serape inspired, so I had my private designer create a custom serape hoodie in super vivid colors!

You just worked with Rae Sremmurd — what was that collaborative process like?
We worked on an editorial coming out this winter and they were like a real life party! I loved putting all of the 90s hip-hop silhouettes that a lot of designers are making right now on them!

How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
My love will always be for rock 'n' roll! I can't help it; I was raised by a hippie dad from San Francisco and hippie mom who dated Jimi Hendrix.


Kehlani. Photography David Camarena.

Daniel Buezo & Debbie Gonzales (Kehlani)

How did you both get your start as stylists?
Daniel: I moved to LA and worked styling at Opening Ceremony. Debbie: My original plan was to be a designer however, one day I volunteered at a fashion show and got to experience this behind the scenes world that I had no idea about.

How did you guys begin working with Kehlani?
Daniel: I met Kehlani before her first project; her manager is one of my close childhood friends. I started working with her soon after meeting her, from shoots, to shows then tour. After our first tour, I met Debbie and literally worked together on a project with Kehlani the following day.

What's the most fun thing about working with her?
Debbie: The evolution has been fun to watch. Even though we've seen her perform and heard her songs a million times, you can still find us all singing our hearts out and hitting the choreographed moves backstage as if it was our first show.

What brands you do you guys pull regularly?
Currently Vivienne Westwood, Opening Ceremony, Alexander Wang, and Kids of Immigrants.

How would you each describe your personal approaches to styling?
Daniel: Making sure that the person feels and looks great, everything else follows suit. Debbie: My job is to elevate without forcing anything.

What would be your advice to young stylists who are just starting out?
Daniel: Do something, don't just try to be something. Being a stylist is bigger than style and fashion. Debbie: Find your niche, make sure everything you do has your stamp on it. You want people to recognize you for who you are and what you have to offer.



Text Alice Newell-Hanson

vic mensa
Travis Scott
florence welch
daniel buezo
debbie gonzales
jasmine benjamin
kyle luu
natasha newman-thomas
rae srummerd
zoe costello