Silken is a stylist living in Los Angeles. We talked with Silken about sharing stories through fashion, the ups and downs of being a creative, and how to stay positive and have a creative career as a freelancer.
Silken, what brought you to LA?
I am originally from Marietta, Georgia, and I moved to California to study film. California was always the dream. I graduated from USC in 2015 and never left.
What did you study in school?
I studied communication and film. Movies fascinated me and helped me dream so when I got into USC, studying production seemed like the best route at the time. I always loved fashion growing up but for some reason I struggled with justifying it. I felt embarrassed to pursue it because I didn’t quite understand it yet. Even as a kid, getting dressed and looking at fashion campaigns were such a part of me and the way I saw myself in the world. When I graduated college, I traveled around Asia trying to create and produce travel content only to realize later I was basically trying to make a perfume ad. Sometimes it takes certain life experiences to realize how you make sense of the world, and how you want to express that. As soon as I started pursuing fashion, things began to make sense.
“Be really patient with yourself. Don’t put a time limit on things.”
When did you really start pursuing a career as a fashion stylist?
The moment I wanted to be a stylist was pretty definitive. I remember when Alessandro Michele took over Gucci, and he made fashion so palatable for people. He really changed the house and spoke directly to my own heart. I think it was SS16, and the Glen Luchford campaign with models skateboarding to Goodbye Horses. I remember seeing that video and going oh that’s what I’m trying to do. That’s how you see the world and that’s how you’re going to express yourself. When I really started pursuing fashion, I realized that I was going to have to educate myself and dive into research. SHOWstudio became an important tool for me, I love Nick Knight’s work and the interviews are so insightful. I also did an intensive at Central Saint Martins in London. It connected a lot of dots for me and the library there is a dream.
What is a challenge you face as a fashion stylist?
Styling can be so misunderstood, and there isn’t a designated path. The industry is constantly changing and the role of a stylist is so multifaceted. But, under the right circumstances, it is very poetic and can be very emotional and expressive. It’s about deconstructing other people’s thoughts to create something new. I do my best to approach it in a personal way, filled with contradictions – and of course anything personal can be difficult.
How did you find your first job as a stylist?
A friend of mine was directing a music video and asked me to do wardrobe – it all evolved from there. I began working with musicians in LA and creating my own process. I would start with inspiration boards, pull references etc. The course at CSM sort of validated that process and helped me evolve it.
What are you doing today with styling?
I do commercial work and try to do editorial when I can. I’m also working with a few musicians and labels that I love – music videos, album artwork, etc. I especially love working with musicians and helping them use fashion as a tool to express themselves further. You find teams that you love to work with and beautiful things come from collaborating.
Do you have any side projects?
Yes, I started designing suits! I love three piece ensembles and how you can mix and match, dress it up, dress it down. I started designing them about two years ago. After unsuccessfully scouring Craigslist, I eventually found a patternmaker in south LA. I deconstruct old clothes, mostly vintage blazers and jackets, sketch it out, and then go from there. My goal is to have enough jacket and trouser options so that anyone can build their own suit in a way that’s most flattering/exciting for them. I make all of the suits in LA. They are made to order and sustainably focused.
Do you enjoy being a freelancer?
Yes, I do. Like all things, it comes in waves – some months are better than others, but it is important to trust the process and have unconditional faith.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
Probably impatience. And frustration for how oversaturated everything is becoming. No one buys magazines anymore. I encourage everyone to go buy a Document Journal or Re-Edition Magazine. It is so much better than staring at a screen!!
What tips do you have for someone navigating the creative space?
Be really patient with yourself. Don’t put a time limit on things. It is always through the difficult times when you get to know yourself. If you are happy with what you are creating, then you are successful.
What does it mean to you to be powerful?
To be powerful is to inspire – make people think!
Tell us about a day at Facebook.
No day is the same. I usually get to the office around 8:30 am. I immediately grab breakfast and chat with co-workers. After breakfast, I look at my calendar and figure out what meetings I have, so I can plan my day. I usually eat lunch around 12:30. I make it a point to get away from my desk for a least 30 minutes every day to have lunch with a coworker. I love that our office is so social. Everyone works really hard, but we also prioritize connections. After lunch, I head to more meetings or spend time at my desk planning for upcoming events that I’m hosting in the Partner Center.
Do you have any hobbies?
Does Drake count as a hobby? I’ve seen him in concert at least five times. I’m convinced that he has yet to make a bad song.
Anyway, in my free time, I am usually obsessing over new music, going to concerts and trying new happy hour spots with friends.
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