Saturday, September 3, 2011

CLIMBING THE FASHION LADDER

FASHION INSIGHT  
HOW TO BE A FASHION EDITOR WITH THORNANDES JAMES


Picture Copyright of Thornandes James

Often times many people look down upon fashion, labeling it unabashedly with beliefs that it is a very superficial industry, full of airheads, and gay men who dress flamboyantly and extravagantly. These kinds of perceptions makes it harder for people to gain the courage to take the decision to dive into the industry, especially in places like Indonesia, a very old-fashioned country. In this post, we'll discuss the story of one man that has broke through those barriers, a man who is so courages that he is able to stand up and believes in what he loves. Fashion. 

Banyak waktu masyarakat menilai fesyen sebagai indutri yang sangat superficial, penuh dengan orang-orang bodoh, dan pria homoseksual yang selalu berpakaian secara flamboyant dan secara extravagant. Dan presepsi seperti inilah yang membuat banyak orang sulit untuk mendapatkan keberanian untuk masuk ke indutri fesyen, terutama di negara yang sangat old-fashioned seperti Indonesia. Dalam post ini, kami akan membahas cerita kehidupan seorang pria yang telah berhasil menembus barrier-barrier tersebut, seseorang yang telah berani untuk berdiri sendiri dengan kepercayaannya akan hal yang ia cintai, yaitu fesyen.


Picture Copyright of Thornandes James

Many of you probably have always wondered, What does fashion editors do? Do their job desc only consist of being fashionable and dressing other people fashionably too while they lead a glamorous life? Or probably you wondered Is a fashion journalism really is a real job? Can we make a living out of it? Or is it just a job for the incredibly rich socialites? Or probably (for those of you who are teens) How can i break into the fashion industry? We hope that this exposé/interview will inspire those of you who are confused whether fashion is your calling to make the right decision, we also hope that it will give you the insight you need on what to do to become a great stylist/fashion editor.   

Banyak orang mungkin bertanya-tanya, Sebenarnya apa sih pekerjaan seorang editor fesyen? Apakah deskripsi pekerjaan mereka hanya sebatas terlihat stylish dan harus mendadani orang lain dengan stylish juga? Atau mungkin Anda bertanya-tanya Apakah menjadi jurnalis fesyen dapat menghasilkan hidup? Apakah itu pekerjaan? Atau apakah itu hanya perkerjaan untuk para sosialista? Atau mungkin bagi kalian para remaja, Bagaimana saya bisa memulai career di industri fesyen? Apa fesyen tepat untuk saya? Kami berharap  exposé/interview ini dapat menginspirasi Anda dalam mengambil keputusan yang tepat, dan dapat memberi Anda semua pengetahuan yang dibutuhkan untuk menjadi stylist/editor/jurnalis yang baik.


par Nicoline Patricia Malina
styling, Thornandes James
makeup artist & hair, Adrian Suryapradipa/B'Mgt
assistant stylist, Rajasa Pramesywara
 model, Yunn Ru/Model One HK


Could you tell us a little bit of yourself? What were you like as a teenager? Were your parents supportive with what you do?

I was definitely not a popular and fashionable kid and also not a nerdy geeky person, because my grades weren’t that good either. I was actually fat, my heaviest was like 96 kilos and known as a sort of grumpy and bitter person. And I was not that into fashion world, in fact I didn’t read any fashion magazine back then. I was more into reading comics and some Indonesian literature books and dealing with some extracurricular activities and school committee events.

Since I was a little kid, I was known as the rebellious one. I won’t follow my parents’ will without good reason; basically I am a very opinionated and hardheaded person. At first they always on the opposite of my every decision, but since a little kid I already have this belief. This is my life and nobody will take any decision of my life other than myself. For me, I want them to know that I’m the one who responsible for my own life because I’m the one who’s living it not them. But soon after I prove it, they are okay with it.

When did you first fell in love with fashion? Or at least know that you wanted to be in fashion?

I don’t remember exactly first time I fell in love with fashion. I only know I love to sketch dresses since I was little and I like to play with fabrics or tissues by draping them and it went all the way through high school, but I still wasn’t aware with fashion industry. I was trying lots of things like photography, event organizing, graphic designing, literatures, until I’m looking through my friend’s magazine, A+. At first I was not interested by the fashion, I was interested by their design and layouts, so I started to read it. Back then I was still exploring in photography and haven’t decided yet which photography direction I will go, and then I watch America’s Next Top Model Cycle 1 and from then on I was drowning myself into fashion photography which leads me into the fashion industry.

As for the collections that made me fell in awe with fashion were John Galliano for Dior Couture Spring 2004, Alexander McQueen SS 2005 It’s Only a Game and a Korean fashion show that was inspired by its national costume, Hanbok, and Anita Mui’s dramatic performance using a huge ball gown that later being peeled off and lots of children were started come out from the ball gown. I was mesmerized by their presentation.

Why styling? Why not design? Or fashion journalism? Styling isn't a common job, who inspired you to be one?

It’s just happened like that I think. I was wanted to go to ESMOD back then, but my parents won’t allow me. And when I was building my portfolio as a photographer, I don’t know anyone to help me so I literally was doing it all alone by myself. The models are my friends, I did all the makeup, I also learn makeup by myself by watching ANTM or other fashion related TV show, and I also decided what to wear, how to pose, etc. So I was actually learn became a stylist without knowing it, I even didn’t know what is a fashion stylist that time. It went on and on until I felt photography was not my thing nor makeup, and at that moment I also met another photographer and makeup artist who were clicked with me and on the same vision as I am, then I decided to let go makeup and photography world and remain with the styling, because that’s what I enjoyed the most.

I actually consider myself a fashion journalist; styling is only one part of my job. I gave myself fully to fashion because I first started in a media, so that’s what made me a fashion journalist. And mostly I did editorial shoot rather than commercial so I think it’s still in part of fashion journalism. When I firstly got into fashion media industry, SOAP Magazine, the first thing I say to my mentor, Syahmedi Dean, my objective here is to learn to write, that’s my first priority rather than styling. So styling is actually one of my job desc, but my real profession is Fashion Journalist.

I’m a big fan of Michael Pondaag since the first time I saw his work in Harper’s Bazaar Indonesia, and since then I was aware with that profession. So I may say that his works that inspired me to get into this industry.

Weren't you afraid that financially being a stylist/fashion editor wouldn't support you?

At first I never thought about it, I only wanted to do what I like, and I did, I did earn some money though it was not that big. But since I’m going independent in 2009, reality just slapped me hard on the face. I was very much in struggle to only do styling, so there I’m looking for other chances and opportunities from using my skills and experiences, consulting for example, and here I am. Three years on my own and I’m still here.


par Stanley Allan/ppf
styling, Thornandes James
wardrobe & accessories, SPOUS by Priyo Oktaviano
makeup & hair, Phillip Kwok
digital imaging artist, Surya P. Nugroho
stylist assistant, Chekka Cuomova
model, Natalya Gumilevskaya/JIM


Could you describe our readers your first experience doing a professional styling? How you felt and what was the styling for?

First professional styling as I remember is for A+ 6th Anniversary project. They pointed 6 photographers to interpreting 6 in fashion photos, and I was helping one of my friends that got pointed, Insan Kurniawan. It was quite rough because back then I don’t know any designers or labels or I also don’t know how the goods lending process yet. With all limited resources, finally we decided to do a beauty shoot with some accessories that I lent from my friend’s boutique and I also did the makeup. At the end, it went well, surprisingly. I was very excited that time, because I was thought this could be my chance to break into the industry and at the same time I was quite nervous to not deliver the pictures and concepts through their standards, but it’s all good.

Could you give our reader a simple picture on how you're able to borrow the wardrobes for styling projects? Who do we have to contact? And what are we responsible for?

We send the official lending letter to the PR of the labels or designers and usually they will reply it with confirmation letter, and then we bring the confirmation letter to the store/workshop and start to borrow. Usually we need to check the borrowed goods first of its conditions (any minors flaws are have to be noted down on the lending form). And after we use it on the shoots, we have to return it with the same condition, and if they think we need to do some laundry then we send it to the appointed laundry service right away.

We are usually contacting the PR or sometimes directly to the designers. So it is an important thing to built a good rapport and relations to each of them. We also have to be clear with the purposes and details of the shoot. It needs a trust and professionalism to work these out.

Basically we are responsible with all the products that we borrow. If anything happens, that’s 100% our responsibility. If it’s broken or lost, then yes you have to purchase it. That’s why I always tell my assistants to take care and look after all the goods with their life. I always said better you die and the goods are safe rather than you alive and the goods are broken or lost, because when you’re die, you’re done, but when you’re alive you need to pay back all the goods and plus you’ll lost their trust, what’s the point then, unless you’re a filthy reach with money is not an object anymore, then go ahead. I am very strict about this because most of the time I deal with luxury goods. But no matter what the prices are, all the goods need to be taken care serious and delicately.

When being a contributor editor for a magazine, do the magazines tell you what to do or is it you who decide the concept and how the dresses are going to look like?

Because I’m dealing directly with the decision maker of the magazine (e.g. Editor in Chief, Deputy Editor or Fashion Director), I have more privileges rather than others. They already know my style and capabilities, so they give me their trust 100% to do it. Usually I came up with my own concept and ideas, they only give brief about the magazine style and requirements of what’s okay and what’s not in the pictures, and also the big theme of the month, then I made a concept that still in-line with the big theme and give them the list of designers and brands that I will be using on the shoot.

Now I only work like that, because when someone asks me to contribute, I consider they already know my capability and my style.



par Glenn Prasetya
styling, Thornandes Jamesmodel
Julius Ryan Karsten/Platinvm

We understand that you first worked for SOAP, men's magazine, how was the transition from menswear to womenswear?

It’s not that hard, because I started styling for women before I work for SOAP, and in SOAP I also did styling for women (for profiles, cover story, or sometimes in fashion). What I like about SOAP, it’s a men’s magazine but they’re not selling woman and their body as a main appeal, they sell ideas and vision, so I used to treat it like any other women’s fashion but I added a hint touch of sensuality from their body language or attitude, however sex do sells, but I want to portray sexuality in a subtle and classy way, and somehow it is carried into my styling style today.

How does an advertising graduate turn to be a stylist? What experience did you encountered that you decided to turn your profession?

I already decided fashion is my thing before I was graduated. I was work full time in SOAP before I was graduated, on my last year to be exact. As I mentioned previously, I wanted to go to ESMOD but my parents disapprove me. So at that moment, my second choice was communication because I was wanted to work as an event organizer (I participated in numerous events during my high school times in Labschool and did work in some couple of event organizer as the creative team and secretary). And so during my college years I’ve built my portfolios already, and on the 3rd year it got more intense, I did work freelance for Free! Magazine and Tamasya Magazine, and in the 4th year, I was accepting some commercial project for some musicians for their album covers and interning in SOAP and got promoted to be an in-house fashion editor later on. And to keep me focus in finishing my study soon, I made my thesis and all of my projects in college were related to fashion. After all I never feel connected and eye-to-eye with advertising industry since in my 2nd year in college, but since it was my decision to take advertising as my study at the first place, so I have responsibility to finish it.

Do you enjoy being a creative consultant for Indonesian designers? Why?

I enjoy it so much! Because as a consultant you are not the boss and controlling the designer’s creation, you are paid to give inputs and constructive criticisms as well as you give them choices of solutions to it. So it’s like a partnership. I have to learn about their style, and have to put my shoes and think like them. The common mistakes when people is being hired as a consultant is they tend to drive the designers to make a creation or collection they want, and somehow it may make the designer lose their style. My job as a consultant is to keep the designers focus on the concept and shaping their collection to be relevant to the objectives or trends and gets its best on the presentation. I’ll give my point of view as a journalist, so they know what’s the weak point of the collection and they will improve and fix it before it is presented to the public. Being a consultant is a constant learning and synchronizing process that involves chemistry, trust, and psychology.

Name local and international fashion editors/ stylists that you love.

Local: Michael Pondaag
International: I don’t know, because I never follow them from the first. Yes I look at references but I used to research it after I polished my concept first, so I can’t mention any names.


par Julius Bramanto Zulkarnaen
styling, Thornandes James R.
makeup & hair, Phillip Kwok
assistant makeup & hair, Bonniedegio
assistant stylist, Rajasa Pramesywara & Retno Prasasti
model, Kotuleva Yulia Gennadevna

What are your favorite magazines (local / international)?

Local: Magazine that features my works. 
International: Numero, Vogue UK, ELLE UK

Which designers (local / international) inspire you the most? Name your favorite designers.

Local:
I adore Irsan for his crazy ideas and passion to it. My conversations with him never fail to inspire and amuse me. I also adore Biyan for his magnificent presentation and his balance between the idealism and commercialism. Every presentation that he did always makes me wants to write and tell a story of it, he’s such a great storyteller through his collection and presentation.
Favorite Designers: Irsan, Biyan, and Adrian Gan

International:
Alexander McQueen, he is one of a genius both in his craftsmanship and presentation. He uses his presentation show as his art installation. I just bought his book, and I think I can make millions of concepts inspired by his works. I also adore John Galliano because he is, also, such a brilliant when making a collection and presentation, everything is just polished and impeccable. He and McQueen both share the same mind, McQueen is the dark version of Galliano, and Galliano is the pretty version of McQueen.

Favorite Designers: Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Viktor & Rolf, Alber Elbaz, Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana, Stella McCartney, Raf Simons, Ricardo Tisci. Christopher Bailey, and Stefano Pilati.

If you could work with anyone, who will it be? 
Numero is my obsession and who doesn’t want to work in Vogue.


What are the perks being a stylist? And what are the down sides of being a stylist?

The advantages of being stylist are sometimes you get freebies and the most important is you never stop learning. Being a stylist means you need to do research before doing something, so you always learn new things, from simple common things about fashion and trends to history or tradition or even how to hold a sword in fencing or terms in ballet or got a new life philosophy.

The down sides are there are many people still look down to this profession, people, especially commercial industry, still thinking that stylist is only a wardrobe staff and often treat us as not supposed to. You are responsible for all the goods that borrowed; it’s a job that full of risks. You also need to accommodate all the team, become a stylist for me is like a project leader, and you need to make sure everything is go well and the objectives are achieved, so you’re constantly feel nervous and thinking of backup plans etc.

par Julius Bramanto Zulkarnaen
styling, Thornandes James R.
makeup & hair, Giacomo
model, Yuliya Gennadevna

Do you have any wise advice to our readers who wanted to be a stylist/ fashion editor? 

Never stop learning, respect others if you want to be respected, if you’re a newbie better to keep silence no matter what people did to you, just do your best, actions speak louder than words. There’s no instant way to be on top, people often think I was very lucky to be in this position in quite soon, but they don’t know how hard I work, my capabilities, and how long I tried to get into the industry before I made it through. Learn to embrace the process not just the results.

Movies like Devil Wears Prada and September Issue is actually a good reference to look at, but most people take it the wrong way. They try to act or try to be like Anna Wintour, the situation is far different from our industry in reality. Need to be reminded, they are Vogue US which they have the power and access in the industry worldwide, what they put in their magazine does have an impact in the world. While our media is not that powerful, we can’t be that strong opinionated kind of media, and we need good relations with designers and labels, it’s a symbiosis mutualism relationship. While the value of those movies actually you can see the process of making fashion shoots, the details in the concept, choosing topics, for articles, and all the work process and their roles in it.

People tend to think fashion is shallow glamour and easy, in fact what it seen doesn’t look like it seems, because in our industry packaging is everything. We do judge a book by it’s cover, when people say what the importance is the inside not the outside, for us, what the importance is both inside and outside, it’s a full package or not at all.

And finally, what more do you want to achieve in life? 

Sky is the limit. I still want to try other things and possibilities in fashion industry. But no matter how, my heart, passion, and soul are still in media. So, maybe hopefully somewhere in the future, I will back in publication. 


Thornandes James is a inspiration to all of us, at such a young age he has able to accomplished so much. Just like Anna Wintour, he had the ability to expand himself, having no satisfaction for what he has achieved and now he has broaden his horizon. If Anna Wintour is able to be a consultant for numerous house hold fashion houses the likes of Oscar De La Renta, and Proenza Schouler, Thornandes has had the privilege to be the consultant to the likes of Indonesian fashion extrodinaire such as Priyo Oktaviano and Andreas Odang.





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