When I first arrived in America I was a taken back by the corporate world. Grey cubes and tech savvy designers. This was not the world i had come from in Shoreditch and Hackney. There was however, a glow coming from a little cube close to mine and that was from the effervescent Alethea Podmore Garcia. Alethea is half and half like myself. Half British and half American. I think this was why we initially clicked, but over the years it has gone a lot deeper. For some reason we lost contact for 2 years however you could say it was a "God thing" that we were thrown back together to try and help another corporate business resolve some of their design challenges. I was so excited to have had reconected, Alethea is a real trend visionary and has attracted an impressive list of clients. She now works as a personal stylist and is the absolute bees knees. I am excited to share with you today her thoughts about print and pattern. Cheers Alethea!
Anne Marie - Tell me how you ended up working as a personal stylist?
Alethea - I was dying in a beige cube as an Assistant Designer at Nordstrom Product Group. I had just graduated from design school, which was such personal accomplishment and high. Now employed as a designer, I found myself completely disconnected from what compels me about fashion. I spent my days working in abstraction: removed from color, tactile anything, physical form.
A colleague of my best friend swore to her that she couldn't find jeans to fit her. Her body shape is similar to mine – all booty. My friend said: "You need to meet Alethea." I helped her buy jeans: a simple act but one that called on all my powers. By working with her, my design skills, retail-savvy, trend awareness, and compassion came together; and literally transformed this woman's life. And mine. I found through styling, I was designing for her. Only her. Instead of designing for a generalized two-dimensional demographic, the actual singular person with a body and a personality and goals and attitudes and quirks was SO exciting for me. This to me was fashion – dressing a PERSON. I have grown my styling practice from this first introduction. My practice has broadened and deepened as I work with each of my clients. It is an honor and a privilege.
Anne Marie - Where are you looking to find inspiration for your clients?
Alethea - I find my inspiration in my clients themselves: their coloring, their manner, their lives, what vibes with them. This to me is the heart of personal styling -- as I practice it. Only then do I match those insights with design, trend, and market awareness skills to wardrobe for each them. Each client is my muse.
Anne Marie - Which print heavy designer or label do you love?
Alethea - As I work equally with men and women, so I look at both menswear and women's wear. For personal inspiration, I always look to: Etro, Dries Van Noten, Kenzo, and Prada. From what I am seeing each season, I keep individual clients in mind, finding a way to successfully match-make. I will think: So-and-so REALLY needs to rock a Foulard shirt this Fall. In this way, print direction is part of wardrobe planning for my retainer clients. Also, for me, the art of actual print is inspirational. Specially I study color palates, pattern scale, positive/negative space, and pattern-mixing. I learn so much this way; keeps my eye fresh.
Anne Marie - What type of prints are you seeing everywhere when shopping, and what looks new and fresh out there?
Alethea - I love how digital print has become more affordable. Mass market is able to replicate a more high-end look at achievable price points.
Anne Marie - Do your clients love prints or resist them?
Alethea - Love. But they might not know it to say it out loud. But the right print, in the right piece will always resonate. Print is a reason to buy. It charms the eye and makes us wonder: can I wear this? My job is to say YES and to find a way how to wear it. If it appeals, there is always a way. This is the joy of what I do.
Anne Marie - Where would you get a client to start when experimenting with prints? What kind of Prints are an easy sell for your clients?
Alethea - When I start with a new client, I start in their closet. A quick look can tell me so much, including if there is propensity towards print, and if so what kind of print. Part of what I do is vocalize and reflect back to my clients what I am seeing: strong contrast, graphic, clean line, geos, tonal florals, large scale, tight repeat. Clients’ eyes light up. It is like having ourselves explained through this new lens. I find what they have been intrinsically drawn to and evolve on that all the while explaining why. I am providing language, education -- my clients are crazy smart and curious. It is thrilling process for me and one which results in authentic personal wardrobe, not fashion victims.
Anne Marie - When buying printed garments where do you love to shop?
Alethea - Everywhere. Sorry to punt. But it literally everywhere, and our lives are better when our eyes are open to it that reality. But the prints we wear must come from an authentic place. If you are wearing it because it is brand so-and-so, and it doesn't resonate, it is like paper dolls -- pretty paper dolls maybe --but not a mature reflection of our personal style/ our personal self. That's no fun. Print is a beautiful means to show up our as our true self.