February 11th, 2014
Breaking into Fashion, Fashion News, Rihanna
How to Break into Fashion: Rihanna’s Personal Shopper Carmen Lilly
By Claire

I thought Fashion Week would be the perfect time to re-inaugurate our popular Breaking into Fashion series!
I took a look in the archives and realized we had exactly zero BIF interviews in 2013. Shameful.
Well, we’re starting 2014 off on the right foot with a feature on Carmen Lilly, who has been Rihanna’s personal shopper for years, and who has also styled starlets like Rocsi Diaz, Estelle, Kelis, and DJ Kiss.
Rihanna's Personal Shopper Carmen Lilly
A personal shopper differs from a stylist in that they purchase pieces for stars to wear in their day-to-day lives. While stylists might be more focused on red carpet or performance looks, personal shoppers get outfits together for more casual occasions: think dinners, vacations, basketball games, or shopping.

Rihanna's Instagram Mary Katrantzou Butterfly Print Top and Tom Ford Spring 2013 Beige Strappy Gladiator Sandal Boots
Rihanna in a Carmen Lilly Look

Because celebs can’t shop on their own (without getting mobbed), the personal shopper purchases items on their behalf–they get an idea of what their client likes while also introducing them to new designers, hot items, and trendy silhouettes.
carmen lilly personal shopper rihanna estelle rocsi
Carmen Lilly is one of the best in the business, and took some time out of her busy fashion week schedule to tell us how she got her start!
rihanna carmen lilly personal shopper
When Carmen graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Art and Design and Africana studies, she had her heart set on a career in jewelry design. She said, “When I left college, I was making jewelry, but I was doing it on the side. I wanted to get experience from the retail end, so that I could get my jewelry in stores. My jewelry was very specific, so I thought the boutique route would be best. And I decided to seek a job at a boutique. ” She found herself at Intermix in New York City.
She met Rihanna when the young starlet came in to the store to shop (way before Rihanna was the music and style icon she is today). Carmen said, “She would come in. And we developed a rapport, a relationship, and a trust. I met her at the beginning of her career, and I was able facilitate shopping for her when she became a star. “
rihanna shopping with carmen lilly 2009
From basics like white tank tops and denim shorts to more elaborate pieces, Carmen provided it all with what she calls, ‘elevated service.’ She said, “Rihanna would have all these high end designer pieces, but she wouldn’t have anything to complete the outfits. So I would get them for her, but I would also put looks together and give outfit suggestions. Stars don’t really have time to wake up in the morning and think about what they’re going to wear–they would rather not put the looks together. So, I give them suggestions to make it easier, and tell them how to mix and match items to make their wardrobe cohesive.” Her four star service helped her build relationships that led her to even more high profile clients.

Rihanna in a Carmen Lilly Look

Lilly now also works with Rocsi Diaz, DJ Kiss, and many more.
65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Roaming Arrivals
kiss the dj carmen lilly
rocsi diaz carmen lilly
Her tips for those who also want to break in? Intern! She said, “When I was in college, I had two internships. One was a visual internship with DKNY and another was with a smaller fashion designer who depended a lot on interns, so it exposed me to the garment district and different things I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Taking on internships will expose you to various parts of the industry and allow you to carve out a clear career path.”

carmen lilly estelle
She also advises, “Gain as much industry knowledge as possible, so you will be better equipped to compete with those who have a natural network and connections within the industry. Do your research. You must be passionate about it because there are a lot of hurdles and obstacles. Don’t focus on celebrities–focus on your craft.”

carmen lilly rihanna personal shopper
Preach! And while it seems Carmen happened to be in the right place at the right time, she also had ambition. While working at Intermix, she said, “I realized that there was an opportunity for me to work smarter, not harder. Being in a retail environment, I really wanted to build a book and have clients to make my job easier. I had a coworker at the time who was making 6 figures and working 3 days a week, only working with her personal clients. Her drive motivated me.”

Rihanna in a Carmen Lilly Look

She continued, “With Rihanna, it wasn’t like she requested the service. I offered it. Most people didn’t know personal shopping was even an option. But I offered, went over and above, and cultivated a great relationship.”

carmen lilly
Wise words from a successful industry fixture!
Follow Carmen on Instagram and Twitter @StyleCarmen.
What do you think?

*We’ll be doing a lot more of these–my goal is to have one every week (or every other week). Is there anyone else you’d like to read about?

*Want to know how I got my start? Read my Breaking Into Fashion tips on The Bomb Life!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Be Sociable, Share!

35 Responses to “How to Break into Fashion: Rihanna’s Personal Shopper Carmen Lilly”

  1. Curves says:

    Rihanna’s everyday style is amazing!! great post

  2. MelyB says:

    Great post – I’m always interested in how people get started in this industry.

  3. Great job Carmen. It’s the everyday style that counts the most. You did a great job with Riri.

  4. Richelle says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to more of these post! Love learning bout young people getting it! Motivates me!

  5. iheartkeya says:

    I always love these types of posts. I’m currently in college as a fashion merchandising major so this is inspiring. I love Rihanna and her everyday style. This seems like an interesting job to have.

  6. Tee says:

    Sounds good to me! I want to know who shops for Gwen and Nicole on a day to day basis.

  7. Mary says:

    Can we get a more candid interview with “TY” who has been styling Beyonce, Kelly, and Michelle.

    Where’s Rihanna’s old stylist, her name escapes me but she was with her during the Good girl gone bad era.

    Also, If you have connections to reach out to those who style Miley Cyrus…I would definitely like to know more about the process behind her style evolution.

  8. Isatta says:

    I saw you and Carmen at the Alexander Wang after party and I kept looking over like gosh that girl looks familiar over there not realizing it was @stylecarmen (Instagram names guys lol). I’m very excited that you featured her as I’ve been following her career for a little while now!

  9. @Theliteralits31 says:

    This was a wonderful post! Keep em coming.

  10. reasa says:

    Mariel haen or something like that was Rihanna’s old stylist.

  11. simiyalala says:

    Great post, Claire. I am really enjoying these type of pieces.

  12. @Alexislovesme says:

    Great article!

  13. Yes amazing post Claire glad they are back in 2014. looking forward for more posts like this :)

  14. miss_n says:

    I’ve missed these features so much. I have the interview with Shiona bookmarked because it’s just damn good advice. Carmen’s feature is equally as motivating, and I’m extremely happy you brought these back Claire. I must say that although I’m not trying to break into fashion, I’m very inspired. Gotta love go getters and hard workers!

  15. medschool says:

    I was reading your article but when I saw thats shes a fellow alum (wolfpack) I got hype. Yassss girl. NC State is a gem of an institution.

  16. aries says:

    very interesting, I love Rihanna street style.

  17. DYLG says:

    GREAT POST!!! Loved it!!!! Very interesting how she made it in the fashion industry.

  18. Jacqueline says:

    I enjoyed this article so much Claire, thanks. I look forward to reading more like this.

  19. Jennifer says:

    Thank you! love this post

  20. Dria says:

    Keep posts like these coming! I loved this one, so inspiring! I just got a job at a boutique in my area so I will definitely use some of these tips to get to where I want to be

  21. itsjustmet says:

    loved this post, and glad these are back in full effect for 2014! thank you!

  22. NYC chick says:

    Great post. I remember her from the intermix store!!!! She was always very nice. So glad to hear she ‘s doing big things!!!


  23. NYC chick says:

    Just re read this again. I LOVE her advice about honing your craft vs focusing on celebs and the fact that many of “us” don’t have the natural networks that others have so we need to work extra hard to ensure that our stuff is tight. I am not in the fashion business but think that is really sound advice for people across different fields.

    I love this young lady. So proud of her. Rihanna is recognized by fashion insiders as one of the best dressed celebs so her role in that is huge. Love it!

  24. Kanyeshrug says:

    Is there any advice for those individuals that are post grad and realized their passion post graduating? Interning don’t seem be to possible now? And my major was sooo un-fashion related.

  25. China says:

    As a Fashion Merchandising major this was a really inspirational article. I appreciate this and will definitely put these tips to use.

  26. This article is a great inspiration to a taste sabby guy like me .

  27. Gabriella says:

    more more more more and more of this svp!

  28. Nicole-Renee says:

    Great Post! Carmen’s everyday styling for Rihanna is hott!!

  29. Carmesha says:

    Great feature, it is so inspirational. It is amazing to see a fellow NC State University alum doing great things!

  30. Lovely post. Pls keep articles like this coming.

  31. Jacqueline Brandon says:

    Great story! I can’t wait until school tomorrow so I can show the students in my class. You set a goal, followed your dream, applied hard work and look at what you have accomplished. You go girl! Luv ya! Cousin Jackie

  32. I really love that you’re doing these. please continue with them. as a young aspiring stylist and eventually designer, this is always refreshing and inspiring. I love to hear all about how people got their start.

  33. MAC says:

    This is a great post. I didn’t realize there was a difference between a personal shopper and a stylist. I thought they had to be one and the same.

  34. I’d have to settle with you on this. Which is not something I typically do! I really like reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to speak my mind!

  35. I admire the valuable information you offer inside your content. I will bookmark your weblog and also have my youngsters test up right here often. Im fairly sure theyll learn a lot of new stuff here than anyone else!

Leave a Reply

Fashion Bomb TV


Fabulous Looks of the Day


Claire’s Life

shop fashion bomb boutique





Come-to-Pinktownusa-Banner-01 Celebrity Clothing special occasion dresses
Find fashion and beauty products on DHgate
Cheap shopping online for more fashion and beauty products sammydress.com
Latest Fashion Sammy Dress for Less


hairfactory-fashionbomb2 300x250_062314yellow_ FASHIONBOMB2


hairfactory-fashionbomb2 Come-to-Pinktownusa-Banner-02
blog advertising is good for you


Bras: Victoria Secrets, sexy, Plus Size Bras in the bigger greatest store online.

Karmaloop Coupons

LilysDress.com is the global leading online retailer for wedding dresses online


View Mobile Version Google+