If you don’t already know Rachel Lefort, let me introduce you to her! She is one of my dearest friends, my neighbor and an incredibly talented stylist with a long history in the fashion industry. Rachel has recently been hand selected as one of Denver’s top stylists and has partnered with Cherry Creek for their ongoing styling sessions.
Rachel, lets get into it… Your professional life in fashion has spanned New York, London, Paris and now Colorado. Can you share your backstory with us and what peaked your interest in fashion in the first place?
Thanks so much, Annie! What an honor to be featured on your blog! My backstory is a bit long, so you may need an extra shot of espresso to get through it. When I was little my mother would take me to this tiny craft shop where she would buy me fabric remnants, and I would use them to make clothes for my Barbies, dolls and even my friends. After that I started sewing lessons after school every week, and continued through to college, where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design from Syracuse. I studied abroad at the London College of Fashion and interned for an evening wear company in London, as well as a design agency in Hong Kong. After graduating I moved to New York, where I became an assistant designer at Ann Taylor. It was a great experience, but I was looking for something more creative, so after a couple of years I went back to school. I attended Parsons Paris for their summer program, and then discovered La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, where I ultimately enrolled to study Haute Couture. I interned at Balmain for their Haute Couture Collection (during the time of Oscar de la Renta), and for their Ready to Wear as well. I also interned at the House of Dior. What a dream it was, walking in there for work every day! There is so much history in those walls, and I soaked it up.
While in Paris I met American Couturier Maggie Norris who was there sourcing the artisans of the Haute Couture. Maggie designed, created and showed her collections in New York. However, she utilized the unmatched level of artistry of the Haute Couture craftsmen and women in Paris to execute various pieces for her collections. I helped Maggie while in Paris, and then went in-house to work for her for 5 more years upon moving back to New York.Your career in personal styling began when you moved to Colorado. How did you get started styling and what do you think makes a great stylist?
Your career in personal styling began when you moved to Colorado. How did you get started styling and what do you think makes a great stylist?
Yep, I had to reinvent myself a bit when I moved to Colorado, and it has been an interesting career pivot! Initially when I moved to Colorado I was asked to teach fashion courses at a sewing and design studio, so I created classes and had a wide range of students from kids to adults. I taught “Fabric Knowledge 101” where we created swatch books and did burn tests to identify fibers, “Your Career in the Fashion Industry” which was great for budding fashionistas and “How to Create a Collection and Present it in a Portfolio.” I taught for several seasons and while promoting the classes, someone asked me for help with her wardrobe. I realized quickly how amazing it could be to utilize my knowledge of fashion for helping people. There is an incredible sense of fulfillment that comes with helping someone gain confidence. After that first client I gained more clients by word of mouth, and decided to form a business. Soon after I was asked to present the trends at Nordstrom, I began writing monthly style tips for the Denver Post, and eventually I began speaking for businesses and organizations about the importance of your image and how to build a professional, stylish wardrobe. The business just grew organically.
To answer your other question, I think a great Personal Stylist has to be real and authentic and also sensitive and empathetic, because often a client is in some sort of transition when they hire a stylist, and it’s a very personal process. I think it’s important to understand the client’s goals in their personal and professional life, and their desired image. A great stylist doesn’t stick to cut and dry rules, because this is real life! For example, just because someone hasn’t worn a jacket in 2 years doesn’t mean it should automatically be tossed out. It could be an amazing piece that the client doesn’t know how to style, and we could give it new life. A client expects the stylist to have an eye for proportion, style, and fit, plus a definite point of view. I believe that select trends and interesting pieces can supplement the wardrobe every season, but what’s more important is flattering, updated basics and good accessories that align with the client’s style, business culture, etc. A great stylist listens to their clients and then gently pulls them out of their comfort zone to try new things and help them elevate their style. When I work with my clients I hope to see that they stand a little taller because they have more confidence. What I really love to see is a text telling me how many compliments they’re receiving, and the selfies are the best!
What is your connection to Cherry Creek? How did your styling residency with them come together?
I’ve spent years helping clients shop Cherry Creek North or the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, and for several years I did events at Nordstrom in Cherry Creek, presenting the trends of the season and how to wear them. I also was the Fashion Stylist for Denver Life Magazine, and I worked with many stores pulling trends during that time. I guess I’ve been around for a while, styling for almost 10 years!
You are also one of the top stylists for the menswear custom clothing line, J. Hilburn, in Colorado. How did you get into that business?
Over six years ago while I was busy building my Personal Styling business, someone found me on LinkedIn. I skeptically answered and agreed to coffee. Well when I turned the clothes inside out and learned about the fabric, the value and what J.HIlburn offers clients, I was intrigued. Not long after, I decided to jump all in and add this second business to help male clients. It was a great decision and I’ve never looked back. The company is innovating, growing and expanding across the country, and we’re helping guys with their style by making them everything from custom casual clothes to custom formalwear and everything in between for their work and lifestyle. Oh, and by the way we’re recruiting- we’re looking for entrepreneurial professionals with some flair, who want to become a stylist, be their own boss and work a flexible schedule around another business, job or family. (Juuuust tossing it out there, because it’s such a cool business!)
You had the opportunity to go to Italy and visit the historic mills and manufacturers with the J. Hilburn team last year, did that trip further confirm your commitment to J. Hilburn?
Absolutely. I was incredibly grateful to stay at the Four Seasons in Milan and take trips up to Biella and Bergamo at the foot of the Alps, where the world’s greatest fabrics are made. It was so inspiring touring these mills which are hundreds of years old and still family owned. I was beyond inspired looking through the archives dating back decades, including books I saw at the Zegna mill of Agnona womenswear fabrics which had been designed for names such as Nina Ricci and Dior in the 60s. It was such an eye opening experience. There is so much integrity in the J.Hilburn supply chain and the core values of the company, that I’m quite proud of the brand and yes, totally committed!
What are some trends that you are excited about for Fall for both women and men?
Omg I love Fall Fashion! I’m kind of excited about red right now. I always go to burgundy, but this season I think it’s fun to add a little wow factor (in the right way), with bright red. Animal print is super fun right now, too, but I hesitate mentioning animal print in the same paragraph as red. ;-) I’m also enjoying the continuous evolution of sneaker style for women and men, mixing them in, in place of dress shoes, or wearing cool sneakers with casual bottoms and a blazer. For the guys, I’m loving the movement to refined casual. One’s casual wardrobe is important and shouldn’t be skipped over. I’m excited to help men and women look good on weekends. It takes effort to make it look effortless!
Ok, like I alway like to do….. A few rapid fire questions to close out our chat!
Favorite Food/ Dish to order: Shrimp Scampi
Favorite Apps: Shoptiques, Shopstyle, Vogue Runway, Hue & Stripe, Shazam, Mirror, Goop’s travel app G.Spotting, White Noise.
Favorite Podcast: How I Built This
Favorite Swear Word: Merde!
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Lots of advice! Say yes and say no. Say yes to every opportunity! Say no to things that are distracting and off course, or don’t feel right. Trust your intuition. Seek out a mentor. Turn “no” into determination. If you don’t ask the answer is always “no.” Ask forgiveness instead of permission once in a while. Be strong and assertive. Don’t be so worried about what others think and do what makes you happy!
Thank you so much for doing this lil interview. I can’t wait to shop for Fall! My favorite fashion season…..
To check Rachel out or connect with her about all things style related, click through the below links
Facebook: Rachel Lefort Style
LinkedIn: Rachel Lefort
Website: http://rachellefort.com /