Pro stylist Carlee Wallace talks celebrity fashion

Photos: Jeremy Jude Lee Wardrobe: Secret Location
Photos: Jeremy Jude Lee Wardrobe: Secret Location /

Carlee Wallace shares with us about how she arrived at where she is today as a professional stylist and go-to talent in Hollywood and beyond.

Carlee Wallace has worked with celebrities such as Kate Nash, Shawn White, David Kaye, and many others. She has a  special matchmaking ability to combine the perfect fashion statement with her clients in a way that turns heads and makes them stand out from the crowd.

She recently took the time to share with us about her journey in fashion, how she arrived at where she is today and how she goes about styling for high profile celebrities. Here’s what she had to say.

Hidden Remote: Hi, Carlee! First off, on behalf of FanSided and Hidden Remote, thank you for your time today! So you have an incredibly impressive resume. I understand you went to the Istituto Marangoni school for fashion styling in London — how did you break into the styling industry and separate yourself from the pack after that to find yourself where you are today? 

Carlee Wallace: Anyone will tell you that the fashion industry is incredibly hard to break into and they would be right. Like many creative fields and professions, the fashion world is fast paced and highly competitive. I think if you really love something then there really is no choice but to go after it no matter how hard everyone will tell you it is and the challenges you’ll face.

I can’t imagine not being a stylist – while I love other creative roles and wearing other hats from time to time, I truly identify with being a stylist and am dedicated to exploring what this job means to me and how I can continue to grow in the field of styling specifically.

Since Marangoni, I have assisted many industry-leading stylists and designers, art directed and styled many, many editorials for little to no money in order to learn and create. I’ve also styled musicians, actors, athletes, moms, children, construction workers, models, charity workers, and public figures. I continue to learn new things with each and every project whether it be styling a famous musician for the cover of a magazine, a loving family for a soap commercial, or an actor for a big Hollywood role.

Photos: Jeremy Jude Lee Wardrobe: Secret Location
Photos: Jeremy Jude Lee Wardrobe: Secret Location /

HR: You worked with actors from Altered Carbon such as Katie Stuart, Hiro Kanagawa, Amitai Mermosterin, Luisa D’ Oliviera and David Kaye. Where did you draw your inspiration from for styling them?

Wallace: It’s always a challenge styling someone new and especially if they’re currently shooting a film or series show. It’s important to reflect their personal style and not stray too far from their character as well because this is how the world is currently seeing that actor. I wanted to make sure I was showing the badass side of Katie while still tapping into some femininity and a slightly softer side; so I chose to style her in a power blazer and floral dress.

I dressed Hiro in a stunning Italian suit and also in a cashmere sweater to accomplish a similar dynamic. Amitai has such a great quirky personality and I wanted to make sure I was capturing that through styling. My favorite outfit for him was a Comme Des Garcon sweater with him holding binoculars. Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere but it really is all about getting to know a person to be able to elevate their personal style over time.

HR: You’ve also worked with pro athletes such as Shawn White, Sloane Stevens, Angela Davis, and others. How does your thought process differ when styling athletes as opposed to actors? Is there a difference in where you draw your inspiration from in those instances? 

Wallace: Styling really is a case-by-case situation. I’m constantly having to assess who that person is and how they want to show up in the world. Many athletes and public figures have strong personal branding, which they, of course, wish to maintain.

Depending on what I am styling them for, it’s my job to understand their existing style and create looks that they feel comfortable with themselves in. I always aim to have them feeling like an elevated version of themselves. Styling pro athletes specifically comes with its own set of challenges as they often have sponsorship from certain brands, which I must be aware of and ensure I’m honoring.

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My three years as the Lead Stylist at Lululemon really helped me to understand all different types of sport and the technical styling that goes with each of them. There really is nothing worse than seeing an athlete styled in something that does not reflect their sport properly.

Styling actors is very much about their personality and what roles they currently have and roles they might be pushing to get. Sometimes I’ll be asked to style an actor in an edgier way than usual for them, in order to get them cast in a certain role. My inspiration usually comes from researching who that person is and understanding what I can add to them to elevate their style even further.

HR: I’ve noticed that your work centers a lot around individualistic portrayal. You seem to really care about finding a way, through clothing, to outwardly communicate the special and unique personality traits that make individuals who they are. How do you go about that? How do you decide on how to style a person? 

Wallace: Great question! It’s tricky as I don’t know exactly what my process is – it’s kind of just something that happens. I’ve always loved the idea of why a person wears what they wear. Even from a young age I would observe people’s outfits and wonder who their parents are, where they grew up, what music they listened too and so on.

Style is such an important visual way to express ourselves each and every day. While I love understanding and portraying individuals in the way they’re used to or the way they would typically dress themselves, I find the real magic lies in finding a way to show a certain side of someone they don’t typically express as often. It’s fun to push people a little outside of their comfort zone and try on a more powerful or more colorful version of themselves.

HR: What was it like working with Kate Nash? Her pictures for the photo shoot you worked with her on are so stunning!

Wallace: Thank you! It was awesome working with her. She is such an amazing talent and powerful energy. She has an important message through her songs and is a total powerhouse on stage. I’ve listened to her music for years and when I heard she was coming into town (Vancouver) I jumped on the chance to create something with her and was thrilled to put something together for Phoenix Magazine featuring her. I hope to work with her again in the future for sure.

HR: Thinking back on your career, can you think of any defining moments where you realized that you were making it and that your dreams and aspirations were coming true? 

Wallace: It’s been such a ride thus far and I’m so excited for the years ahead. I’ve been through it all – the countless unpaid internships coming out of Marangoni in London followed by assisting and doing whatever I could in order to both make money and follow my dreams. While it was difficult, I have such fond memories of my many years in London trying to make it. One defining moment I suppose was landing my job at Lululemon back in Canada as the Lead Stylist. It was the first time I was recognized for my skills in styling and broke out of assisting. Lululemon was an amazing opportunity and I’ll be forever grateful for that company and the people I met along the way in my three years there.

When I was accepted to attend London Fashion Week as an individual stylist at large – that was another defining moment, along with finally being accredited for Paris Fashion Week as well. I used to attend these shows either as an assistant, intern, or employee of a brand or magazine; but to finally go on my own terms was something really special.

My decision to go out on my own and freelance was the clearest moment thus far. It’s always been my dream to run my own business, and as a stylist, it’s beyond exciting as there are so many types of work I’ve been able to take on. I feel like it’s still just the tip of the iceberg and there is so much more to come.

Photos: Jeremy Jude Lee Wardrobe: Secret Location
Photos: Jeremy Jude Lee Wardrobe: Secret Location /

HR: What advice would you give to people trying to walk in your footsteps? 

Wallace: First make sure that styling is really for you. It may seem like this glamorous job, but I promise you most of the time it’s not. Often times I feel like a human pack mule carrying around more clothing than any human should ever attempt to carry. That said, if it is for you then absolutely lean in with everything you have. Be ready for anything and say “yes” to everything. Be a sponge and absorb anything that might be useful.

Go to art galleries, read books (yes, actual books), learn the names of other stylists, photographers, directors, makeup artists, hair stylists and so on. Get inspired and stay inspired.

If you can land a job as an e-commerce studio stylist, that’s the best place to start since you’ll learn what attention to detail truly means and how to style quickly and efficiently. Assist anyone who’s willing to let you. And stay humble. Lastly, enjoy the ride and trust the process of it all – remember with every shoot you’ll learn something new and that learning never stops.

HR: What’s next for you? Where will we be seeing your work next? Do you have any projects coming up? 

Wallace: I just got back from New York where I shot breakthrough Canadian talent Jessie Reyez for Schön Magazine. The issue comes out next month and features an editorial styled, produced and art directed by me. We also shot a short fashion film directed by the talented Davy Gomez for the publication, so keep your eyes out for that.

Also my husband Marc Webb just directed his first short film, Best Laid Schemes, which will show at the short film festivals this fall – costume design is of course by me. Beyond that I have some exciting shoots and projects on the horizon that I’m excited to share, so keep checking my Instagram and for the latest and greatest.

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Keep looking out for the work of Carlee Wallace!