How to Break Into Fashion: Celebrity Stylist Mariel Haenn

Hey Bombshells,
Adriana here with a Breaking Into Fashion post on stylist extraordinaire Mariel Haenn!
We’ve mentioned Mariel before in a spotlight, and you all know her best as the force behind many of Rihanna’s genius, show stopping looks. I recently interviewed her to talk about her work, her own personal style, and what she counsels young stylists not to do!

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In addition to Rih-Rih, her work with stars like Ciara, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Kerry Washington has gotten her noticed by others craving her brand of attention-getting styling. So how does she select which celeb clients to work with? “It depends on who the client is and what they are about. I don’t select anyone just because they’re famous, and like to work with people willing to take risks and who aim to be style icons.

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Mariel’s clients always seem to carry off the ensembles she puts together like they’re born to it, but what happens when she has to convince a reluctant star to try a risqué piece or let go of an unflattering look? “You don’t want to be a forceful stylist but you have to be comfortable sometimes disagreeing with a client. It comes down to the actual look itself and what makes sense for it, and using your ammunition when need be (professional know-how and knowledge of what looks good) to talk someone into or down from something.

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We always ask style experts what they advise aspiring professionals to do to succeed in the field, but this time we made it a little different and asked Mariel what budding stylists ought *not* to do. “First, never be a groupie. It might be intimidating to be around celebs but you really must keep your composure, and above all be discreet. Working with clients is an intimate relationship: you get to know their insecurities, what’s going on in their personal life, etc., and you cannot betray that at all.” Not bad professional advice in general, no?

Aside from citing Grace Jones as a favorite style icon and preferring the comfort of Helmut Lang leather pants and flat boots when she’s working, Mariel offers that she gets style inspiration from any and everywhere she goes. And she means everywhere. A trip to Home Depot inspired the look she created for Ciara’s “Work” video, below. “The knee pads and clear goggles, especially.

Finally, what are the qualities in a person that make a good stylist? “Being a good stylist is 90% psychology, 10% talent. Personality alone won’t make it.” There you have it from one of the industry’s best and brightest!
Thanks, Mariel!
And learn more about this uber stylist on her website!

~Adriana

Psst! Craving some Mariel style for yourself? Check out her picks for MasterCard and Saks Fifth Avenue’s 2009 Fall Want It! campaign on Saks’ site, or her Facebook video on Saks’ FB page with fall style tips!

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