MEMBER MONDAYS | Lauren Love
is a wardrobe stylist & curator who currently works with I Luv Vintage on Guadalupe Street. This week, we caught up with Lauren about what brought her into the world of fashion and the process of curating her own personal collection.
Can you tell us when/how your journey as a stylist began? What were some things in your life that inspired you to get involved in this craft?
Lauren Love: My journey as a stylist has to begin with the first fashion icon that comes to mind, my Nana. She, to this day, will not walk out of the house without being decked. Full makeup, hair done and basically “dressed to the nines”.
What inspired me to get in this craft? Honestly, it’s a long story, but in a nutshell, I went to a party and another woman had on the same outfit as I did. It was a dress I purchased from the mall. At work the next day, I talked about the mortifying experience to a coworker. She suggested that I go thrifting and alluded to the idea that something like that would never happen again if I did. At first, I was appalled that she would suggest I do such a thing. In my mind, at the time, shopping second-hand apparel seemed like something I would never do because I am a bit of a germaphobe, but she was too and I was confused by this. I became open to the idea once she reminded me that I could take the item(s) to the dry cleaners or hand wash the item(s) at home. I had an event to attend later that week. She offered to style me from her secondhand finds and prompted that I could always go back to the mall if I didn’t like the piece(s) she picked out.
Fast forward - she came into work a few days later with a formal pearl white long sleeve dress that hit calf length with exaggerated shoulders and an abstract designed primary color hand-sewn sequin waistband. I was sold - that was 2008. With all of that being said, I now feel like styling and vintage go hand in hand. Most people think of vintage as a costume they put on for a themed party. In order for people to truly understand the gravity of wearing and owning vintage clothing, that ideal must change. I started styling people seriously during the first quarter of 2017 when I became a vendor at I Luv Vintage. I quickly noticed that I needed to show everyday consumers how they can incorporate unique one of a kind pieces into their daily wardrobe organically. Soon after, I realized how much I love styling people and helping them find that missing piece to tie a look together or helping them find a new look altogether.
Give me free reign to style with a budget and an open mind, and I will work wonders. Demonstrating how to elevate style while helping people harness a new sense of self-esteem and self-love is my mission. It wasn’t until recently that I understood how clothing can transform the individual, giving life to identity.
Can you describe the curation process in your work?
LL: There are levels to it. It depends on the project, as it’s situational. For example, my digital portfolio is a curation project of my favorite photos from collaborative projects I have participated in as a stylist, model, and creative director.
Another example of my curation process comes in the form of grouping unique styles, textures, textiled apparel, and accessories for my brand, Signature Piece Vintage (SPV). Over time, my collection has been reflective of trends both past and present with the future in mind. The style ranges from business casual to street wear to formal. Also, from feminine to masculine and unisex. It seems that things have come full circle, as I now look for a balance of all the previously mentioned categories.
For the SPV Spring/Summer 2018 collection you will find lightweight textured materials, detailed stitching/embroidery, solid colors, and bold patterns. Pieces that will allow you to flow from a work day to happy hour and into date night with a few additions or subtractions.
You can shop my seasonal brand at I Luv Vintage, located on the UT campus drag in the heart of Austin, Texas. Look for the billowing white cabana curtains suspended from the ceiling. Know that EVERYTHING you see has been cultivated by me, myself, and I. What a labor of love it has been. The design, the layout, the build, the merchandising and last but not least, the curated collection. Stay tuned for an online store coming soon!
That’s exciting having your own collection! Can you go more into detail in terms of how your collection came together and how you got involved with the I Luv Vintage team?
LL: My collection has come together over time. It is a combination of apparel and accessories that have been gifted to me along with buying from second-hand, thrift and boutique vintage shops around the U.S. and U.K. since 2013. It has taken time to develop an eye for garment details that point to its age (dating the item ten years since manufacturing or older), which make it officially vintage. I am still learning, of course.
Designers, brands, how garments fit, color pallets, and styles are heavy influencers of how the brand will come together for the quarter. Everything is constantly evolving just as I am - some themes revolving, coming, and going. Seasons are also a major factor when I curate the upcoming seasons collection.
I became involved with I Luv Vintage through a co-creative relationship with the talented Divinity Veloz. Years ago, we modeled in a project together, ran into each other downtown a few years later, and grabbed each other’s new phone numbers. I randomly called her a few months after the phone number exchange to meet up for coffee. She asked me to check out a store she just took over and the rest is history. She offered me a space in the store. I began building out and merchandising my booth in January of 2017. Since then, I’ve recently moved into a new space in the center of the warehouse with a few more feet and a little more wiggle room.
It has been an adventure of self-exploration and a journey of breaking barriers with figuring out how to be self-sustaining and self-sufficient. I’ve learned to rely on myself to get the job done, to balance budgets, and to prioritize what I need over what I want. I chose buying materials and merchandise over taking trips and hitting the town. I am forever grateful for the series of events that bring me to this moment. Having access to a space to call my own has allowed me to explore all facets of myself. Challenging every detail proves I am capable. Replacing the fleeting thoughts of doubt with milestone moments of reassuring testaments that I can literally do anything I put my mind to, undoubtedly. The vision of what my brand needs to be is coming into focus. Now, the vision that was once in my mind is materializing our reality.
From looking through your work, I noticed that you work with an editorial team comprised of photographers, models, and brands. What kind of process do you usually like to carry out when collaborating with a team like this?
LL: Whether I am working with new or previous team members, I love to gather with the crew prior to the production date. It’s nice to get to know individuals I am creating with, set proper expectations for the experience, and get everyone on the same page.
Also, I think it’s vital to have a digital information sheet to reference for communication, submissions, but most importantly, proper credit situation (full name, role, contact information, Instagram handle, etc.). This information is collected at the team meeting or prior to the gathering. Also, vision boards are everything to me when styling and creative directing! It can provide a strong visual guide and reference point for the entire team.
What’s your process like working with brands? Specifically, how do you execute their vision when it comes to creating looks?
LL: When co-creating with a brand, I want to speak to the creative director and/or brand owner to find out more about established details they have in mind. This lays the foundation of the shoot/production. Next, I request to see the pieces they want to use for the shoot/production. Following this, I find out who they have in mind so we can build the team roster. If they need models, hair, makeup, photographers, etc., then I set out to find the missing members. Typically, I reach out to a few go-to creatives that have provided a well rounded co-creative experience in the past.
When it comes to narrowing down looks with the brands collection, I have a heavy question and answer session throughout the project. If the brand hasn’t already provided the visual references, the next vital step is getting started on the vision boards. Finding out what the client is wanting and how they want others to feel when they see the final result of this production is my guiding compass.
What are some things or who are some people that feed you with inspiration and drive you to continue to create?
That is a loaded question, because I am literally inspired by everything--every interaction, positive or negative, everything “ugly”/ taboo, and all that holds beauty. Most importantly, everything in between.
Day to day, I would say, Instagram is a major creative source. Especially since they introduced tabs to bookmark posts! Now, I don’t have so many screen shots of IG photos and profiles on my device camera roll.
Solange is the first person that comes to mind. Her consistent creation across artistic mediums leaves me enamored. Each time I see footage of the minimalist geometric structure of Metatronia (Metatron’s Cube 2018), I am captivated. The visual artistry of movement, fashion, and hair styling/braiding/sculpting that she integrates with organic ease is enchanting. Another recent body of work that moves me artistically is the new Janelle Monáe, “PYNK” music video. Specifically, I was jolted by the complete visual aesthetic, wardrobe, choreography, design, cinematography, etc. This project inspires me to expand my creative capacity. After watching the video, I see how cloth sculpture/wardrobe design can truly drive and shape a concept.
I noticed that you also modeled in some of the projects you styled for as well! How is the process different when you’re both the stylist and the visual subject in a project?
LL: Being the stylist and the visual subject takes a lot of planning and the right troupe. I usually do this with team members that I have worked with before. If I am working with a group of creatives that I have already co-created with previously, I usually have a strong sense of how they move and what their work ethic consists of. That is a major factor when deciding to take on a project where I have more than one role.
Also, there has to be a balance of structure and artistic freedom. I have to know that everyone understands their role and that everyone works well together. The team’s culture, essence, and vibration must be centered in constructive conversation and respect. It may seem like a lot to require, but these elements are crucial to a successful production.
Through working with various creative teams and building your own collection, what do you hope to contribute to the creative community here in Austin?
LL: That will vary on a case by case basis. Ultimately, I feel that people want to be seen and respected for who they are and what they have to offer. I want to make sure that I am providing an inclusive experience. Both with the people that I choose to co-create with and the people that are influenced by my creative endeavors. I am a “you can sit with us” type of human, and I want that message and feeling to transcend with all that I do.
When it comes to the influence of building my own collection, my focus is rooted in serving a variety of body types. Everyone wants to look good. When I look good, I feel good. I want that to encourage people to “dress up” again. I feel like there was more pride amongst all at one time in looking your best everyday. I want to revitalize a culture of “Sunday’s best” everyday of the week. Like Chance the Rapper said, “It’s my birthday, at least that's what I am dressed like.” That line has stuck with me. This is the mindset I want to inspire.
INTERVIEW BY: Janet Lee
MEMBER MONDAYS is a weekly interview series highlighting current members & alumni of the Austin School of Film + Austin Cinemaker Space community! Each week, we’ll be featuring one of our incredibly eclectic community members and take a deep dive into their work. Gaining an insight into what makes them, them.