I had the chance to meet fashion and celebrity stylist René Garza for coffee the other day and got some insight into his wonderfully fruitful career.
Garza started off in the fashion industry as a designer, but turned to styling where he has been making waves ever since. Having worked with the likes of ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Marie Claire, Garza is often sought-out by photographers including Marino Parisotto, David Byun, and Clayton Cubitt. Of course with Fashion Week on everyone’s mind, it must be mentioned that besides past work with the likes of Naomi Campbell, the undeniably creative stylist styled Joanna Mastroianni’s show. Garza is a uniquely versatile stylist as good with styling edgy fashion shoots as he is at styling corporate ads. In fact, in between styling a shoot for Ebony and dashing-off for another shoot in Atlantic City, the always busy Garza will style a runway show for VH1’s Make Me a Supermodel (Check-out the runway show he styled last season — http://renegarzanet.blogspot.
How did you get started as a stylist?
I was designing clothing and at all my fashion shows I had photographers wanting to shoot my clothes. A few of them asked me to style the shoots and from there they asked me to shoot other projects.
You used to be a designer. Do you still design any of your own pieces?
From time to time I do make stuff for shoots. I am working on a line and looking for backing.
You have worked on cover shoots, ads, celebs – any preference? Do you have a different approach for each?
Each job/client is different. I change my styling for the target audience. It’s rarely what I would choose to do 100%. That said, I always enjoy and believe in what I’m doing — it doesn’t matter if it’s a high fashion edgy story or an advertising job with the model wearing Dockers.
Any fashion icons/muses?
I always love the way Tilda Swinton and Cate Blanchett look. I would love to work with them.
What are your career highlights?
I don’t know if I would consider this a highlight necessarily, but it’s definitely a cool moment — I was shooting with Omahyra Mota early in the day and she was wearing my clothes…she actually owns a few pieces and is a friend. Anway, later in the day I was shooting Naomi Campbell and the assistant didn’t put away the clothes that I had made for Omahrya and in racks filled with Dior, Valentino, Cavalli, etc. Naomi went straight for my clothes and commented on how great they were. The next day getting a call from Naomi saying she loved working with me and giving me her cell number — I never called — what would I say? ‘Let’s grab a coffee?’ Haha
Most difficult work experience?
When clients have small budgets they will be the hardest jobs — ALWAYS, but sometimes they trick you into saying it will be easy. I had this local bank doing advertising and they wanted a Hispanic couple in a stereotypical "tacky" house getting a loan to fix it up. I loved the idea since I’m Mexican-American and knew exactly what they wanted. On top of getting clothing they wanted light, set dressing…. a few frames for the walls maybe a plant or two… FOR THE SAME BUDGET! I ended-up wallpapering the set and sewing a slipcover for the sofa — complete set dressing — and they wanted to know why the clothes weren’t steamed on time as my assistant and I were sweating on set. Not to mention that the producer was the worst I had ever worked with. She was awful — too many stories on that job to tell here.
Maybe working with Nick Knight. Maybe for Italian Vogue or better yet something controversial.
How have you been influenced by your travels? Living in NYC?
I try to leave some room in each job for on the spot inspiration, whether it’s be from the place we’re shooting at, the models, the clothes or found objects nearby. I don’t really read fashion magazines. I want to be inspired by outside influences, like art, architecture, literature, or just everyday life. I draw a lot of my influence from historical references.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I don’t think I’ve been allowed to really have an aesthetic yet. I have to comply with my clients whims, but I do think my work could be described as beautiful because even when I do edgy weird stories they always have a beauty to them and every piece of clothing has a meaning. The model in my work isn’t wearing that bracelet just because it’s pretty, there is a reason and a back story to it. It has to belong in the image whether it is part of her character or just part of the composition of the entire image. I have to justify everything on the model or it has to come off.
What do you think about Rachel Zoe getting her own show?
I haven’t seen it yet, but if it makes her happy then I wish her luck.
What are your style pet peeves?
When I go out somewhere and see everyone in the same style of clothing.
What do you think about the way NYC women dress?
I wish more women would take risks. Everybody is about comfort.
Most stylish man/woman you know?
Stylish I’m not sure… most of my friends dress great but are just trendy.
What are your predictions for fall trends?
Same old shit as always….nothing new
What projects are you currently working on?
I have several coffee table book ideas I want to work on and I have two fashion-related charity projects I’m trying to get off the ground.
What projects did you work on during Spring 2009 Fashion Week?
I styled the Joanna Mastroianni’s show. I’ve done all but one of her shows at the Bryant Park tents.
You have accomplished more in a few years than most stylists could hope for in a lifetime. Any aspirations that have yet to be fullfilled?
Too many! I want to have my work in books and galleries. I think magazines are a limited medium, so I want to include social messages in my work. We have such a large voice in fashion. Why not make beautiful work that has a message?