Danielle Tavia on why styling for the stars requires a star-like work ethic
Having been born into a Jamaican family where everyone always dresses to impress, Danielle Tavia developed her own sense of style early on. Tagging along on shopping trips with friends and family eventually developed into a career move for the Toronto native – one that would change her life.
“[I’m] doing something that fits really well with who I am as a person,” says Tavia, who runs her own fashion styling business. “I could be working for hours and hours, but I’ll never be mad or upset [about] what I’m doing.”
The 26 year old, who has styled for countless celebrities and A-list events including the Cannes Film Festival and Elton John’s Oscars after party, credits tenacity, personality and being secure with herself as the driving forces behind her success. This style maven always puts her best stiletto forward, as she continues to establish her brand in the fashion world.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT STYLING? What I enjoy most is seeing [my] ideas come to life. I always make mood boards and I think it’s just the challenge that makes somebody feel good, look good and just whenever I do a photoshoot for someone there’s always somebody saying, ‘Oh my God, where did you get this? I need this!’
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE ENSEMBLE YOU LIKE TO STYLE? I think I like edgy, because it’s challenging. I think the more limits you push the better. For me, I think because I’m an East coaster, I love black because you can find the sexiest black clothes. There’s just something sexy about head-to-toe all-black attire. It could be boots, heels, knee boots – just a nice black outfit sometimes is the most chic thing.
There’s so many people out there who want to do what you’re doing, so you have to stay on top of it. You need that Beyoncé work ethic.
WAS THERE A TIME YOU FELT DISCOURAGED ABOUT YOUR STYLING CAREER? Yeah, I think it’s so hard to break into the fashion industry. I was in New York and I took a workshop called School of Style which basically teaches you the ins and outs of styling – what you’re not going to learn sitting in a classroom at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) or FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). They teach you that you have to start interning; you have to start from the bottom up. You’re going to be getting the coffees and doing all the jobs nobody wants to do, but, for anybody trying to get into styling, you have to understand that this is something that takes time and it’s a lot of dedication and hard work.
WHAT STEPS DO YOU TAKE TO STYLING A CELEBRITY CLIENT? For me, I always try to get to know who this person is. What is their style? Try to get a general overview of who are you? Because the media only sees one side of them and they might want a Rihanna style, but because of their job they’re stuck in a completely different style that’s not them. I think the steps are to find out who they are, what they want to project, what their personal style is. Even looking through their closet to get an idea of what they like. I think the practice is talking to them, then you find the brands that they like, the designers they like … I’ve actually gone shopping with a celebrity client and at the end of the day she was like, ‘you get my style.’ She was very comfortable knowing that if I went out and picked something for her it would be something she would love.
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GOT YOUR FIRST CELEBRITY STYLING JOB? No one ever makes me feel star struck. I treat them like they’re human beings. I’m always focused on the task at hand, so for me it’s exciting, but at the same time I’m like, ‘okay we gotta do this, this and that.’ The moment you tell me what I need to do or who needs to be dressed, I’m like, ‘Okay! I need to get going,’ I’m thinking the job, what this client is like, if I don’t know then I need to find out and research and just [be] ready to work. There’s so many people out there who want to do what you’re doing, so you have to stay on top of it. You need that Beyoncé work ethic.
In a special part 2 to this interview, Danielle Tavia dishes on three of her favourite fall fashion trends.