Stylist Engie Hassan: Bold Statements
When choosing jewelry, don't think "less is more," but outstanding and timeless0
When choosing jewelry, don’t think “less is more,” but outstanding and timeless
The Stylish City talked to stylist Engie Hassan, the founder of EngieStyle, about how she became an independent stylist, how she approaches her projects, her take on jewelry designs, which she believes should be striking and never used in a minimalist or predictable manner to accessorize an outfit, and about designer Andrea Barna’s line, from which we asked Engie to pick a couple of pieces that match the styles of two A-list actresses, with whom both Andrea and Engie hope to work in the near future.
The Stylish City: Can you tell us how EngieStyle, your own styling company, was born?
Engie: I interned at Vogue US, Vogue Paris, Teen Vogue, Men’s Vogue, Numero, where I got to work with some of the most sought-after stylists and fashion editors in the world, and some of them became my mentors. During my internship at Teen Vogue, the economy was at its worst, and Condé Nast was going through operational changes and that is where and when I learnt more about the business and operational management skills that I later used at EngieStyle.
I spoke with a few editors about my career path and told them about the idea I had to start my own business, which would be about personal shopping and styling. They advised me to assist other stylists and then to go on my own. So after the magazine experience, I worked at Bergdorf Goodman. It was different from editorial styling, because I was consulting clients and putting outfits together for their everyday life. I felt that I was branding their image, and at the same time I learnt about the business side because I had budgets and many rules to follow. During this time I was also working on styling projects for runway shows and look books. Then I decided to go on my own. EngieStyle was born on January 4th 2010. Two weeks later I got my first official client, princess Ameerh Al-Taweel, who still remains my client today.
The Stylish City: Would you say that in your current business you combine both ends of the spectrum- you work on editorial shoots, advertising campaigns and music videos, as well as advise and dress clients for different occasions?
Engie: Yes, because EngieStyle works on different types of styling jobs: from runway shows, designer look books, magazine shoots, to red carpet and television appearances. People also use stylists for personal occasions. They go through changes in their lives where they need some direction, even when it comes to their image. A wife could use a stylist’s advice for a dinner with her husband, because that dinner might be significant. Styling is used everywhere from a pharmaceutical company to a high-fashion shoe ad. Persistence, high-quality work and honesty are the best ways to maintain a good relationship with clients.
I enjoy styling clients for red carpet events the most, because I feel as if I have someone’s life in my hands and I can make or break my client, and there is no Photoshop editing involved.
The Stylish City: Any projects and collaborations you dream to make happen in the future?
Engie: I want to style more and more company ads (especially diamond and fashion company ads) and designers’ collections. I would love to style fashion spreads for Vogue Paris, American Vogue, Italian Vogue, W, Harper’s Bazaar. I would love to style celebrities such as Britney Spears, Penelope Cruz and Naomi Watts, as well as collaborate with music artists on their videos.
The Stylish City: Actually Andrea Barna, our featured jewelry designer this month, revealed to us that she has spoken to the PR representatives of Penelope Cruz and Kate Winslet, and is thinking what pieces from her collections she should send each actress. I will ask you the same question I asked Andrea, and let you know what her answers were: if you could pick only one piece from the A by Andrea Barna line for Penelope Cruz and Kate Winslet, what two pieces would you choose and why?
Engie: The two actresses’ styles and looks are quite different. Kate Winslet rarely wears necklaces, but her earrings always stand out, and she also wears bracelets and rings. She seems to love diamonds, and also wears gold and silver pieces, but doesn’t experiment much with colorful gems, she tends to stick with the same colors (white, silver, gold, black and different shades of blue) when it comes to both her outfits and the jewelry items she wears. Because Kate’s looks tend to focus on earrings, I will pick from Andrea’s line the gold lotus drop earrings in aqua- they are delicate yet majestic, they would work well with the styles of dresses Kate usually wears, while the gold and light blue compliment the color of her hair, skin and eyes. On the other hand, Penelope’s style is very fierce and versatile, and her looks can carry pieces that are more dramatic, structured, avant-garde. I think Andrea Barna’s gold drop earrings with layers of chain in pearl would match Penelope’s fashion style- the pearls and the gold accentuate her femininity and elegance, while the earrings’ layered shape reflects Penelope’s tendency to explore different types of looks, from glamorous to bohemian, and to choose clothing and accessories that are rich in culture.
Andrea: I would send Kate Winslet my gold over brass rhinestone cuff. There is enough glitz in that piece for her, it is playful but also sophisticated and not too colorful. The gold would look good on Kate and, since she likes diamonds, I can see her wearing this piece from my line. Penelope is fashion-forward yet classy and not too over-the-top, so I think the gold over brass lotus pendent in pearl I designed would be perfect for her because it’s pretty and refined but it has a modern twist on the lotus. The pendent also works with Penelope’s versatile style because she can wear it with a variety of looks and colors.
The Stylish City: Are you a fan of the saying “less is more” when it comes to jewelry?Engie: No. I try to find statement, eye-catching, spectacular pieces that make my clients stand out. I try to inspire my clients to wear not just a clear diamond but also color, so they stick out in photographs. For example, I styled an ad for a TV show which I knew was going to be photographed in black in white, so I pulled chunky, strong, textured jewelry pieces in order to emphasize each character’s personality. When I pick jewelry I try to choose pieces that will add something unique to the complete look. I try to stay away from what other people will wear. My ultimate goals are to make my clients look like a million bucks, no matter what their budget is, and to fill their closets with pieces they will keep forever and wear again and again, because trends come back.
The Stylish City: What do you keep in mind when you buy jewelry for a job or a client?
Engie: It depends on the client and how they want to be seen. Every client is their own brand and they have a look to express. So if they work in a more creative field I just go with what will make them stand out and what will express their personality. If the client is the president of a company and wants to be perceived as chic but approachable, I choose the jewelry differently.
The Stylish City: When you create a look, what do you start with, what inspires you, and how does jewelry contribute to the look?
Engie: First I need to know the vision of the project. Then I make an archive document of colors, textures and pictures. For a photo shoot, after speaking with the creative director and getting details about the theme, I go through my archives and make an inspirational board with what I can actually pull. For me, accessories are a big deal because they complete the style I’m trying to portray with a look. If a woman takes time to choose a piece of jewelry, she is much more stylish. People can wear the same dress many times, but the way they accessorize it can give it a new look every time they wear it. When it comes to a client, I try to get comfortable with them and find out how they would like to be seen. Clients will reference to me certain icons they would like to look like. For example they would like to look like Grace Kelly or Elizabeth Taylor. After that, when I know what they are will wear, attire-wise, I search for specific jewelry that will fit their personality and the look of the personality they would like to portray, while I keep in mind that when they will wear those pieces they will reflect the grace of their icon but also their own personal grace.
The Stylish City: What do you avoid when you choose jewelry?
Engie: Small and fine pieces. I am always going for bigger and bolder items.
The Stylish City: What do you think are some of the most common mistakes people make when buying and choosing jewelry? What are the most common mistakes celebrities (and their stylists) make when choosing jewelry items for their red carpet appearances?
Engie: I feel that people are too cautious about what others think or care too much about what is “in.” People buy jewelry that they won’t ever wear. As I said before, I think jewelry should stay in your closet forever and you should be able to wear it many times. I don’t really think celebrities make mistakes on the red carpet because they wear what they or their stylist chose. But I get very disappointed when I don’t see celebrities at the Oscars wearing jewelry that is epic and which will influence what other people will wear every day. It’s ok to wear earrings and a necklace the same time. When you look at celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe’s clients, they always wear the right jewelry and statement pieces. Rachel understands the importance of not just her clients’ attire, but of the jewelry choices as well. The Oscars are moments in fashion when celebrities must look iconic and inspirational. After all, they’re wearing couture! It’s a letdown when I see celebrities at these events who do not wear interesting, bold or enough jewelry.
The Stylish City: Can you think of some actual examples- both good and bad ones- of a celebrity whose look was totally ruined by her choice of jewelry or, on the contrary, a celebrity who used jewelry to enhance her own beauty and the beauty and colors of the dress/outfit she wore?
Engie: Yes, I can only think of a good example. Jennifer Lopez comes to mind because she is never afraid to wear jewelry. For example, when she wore the mirror Emilio Pucci mini dress at the 2011 Grammy Awards, she was not afraid to pair it with two statement Cartier rings, a crystal Swarovski clutch and glittered Christian Louboutin platform pumps. She loves to stand out and that’s what is so great about her style.
The Stylish City: Do you have any jewelry items that you are really into right now, and jewelry pieces you wear often, or that you often use for your styling projects?
Engie: I am really into the Royal Asscher diamonds from the Safari collection and the cuffs and rings made by J. Rudy Lewis.
The Stylish City: What do you think about Andrea Barna’s jewelry line? How would you characterize it, what are some of the pieces that you like most from her collections, either for yourself or that you think you could use in your styling jobs and which your clients would like?
Engie: I like her versatility because she has something to offer to all different kinds of people. I like some of her rings, cuffs and chunky bangles. I really like her thin bangles. I would buy a few and layer them or wear them with a watch. I also like her dotted cuff.
By Doris Sangeorzan
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