FASHION STYLING INSIGHTS: ELISE VERHOEVEN
Arnhem-based fashion stylist Elise Verhoeven has recently celebrated a decade-long career in the industry, having already had many collaborations with a wide range of acclaimed publications under her belt; from indie (Schön! and Cake magazine) and established fashion press (Vogue and Nylon) to advertising, video, celebrity, even film, her work spans almost every area of fashion styling. Starting her career as an intern at Elle magazine, she is since then slowly building up her portfolio and establishing a name in the industry worldwide. Read on as we discuss her work within the industry, her creative vision, her plans and dreams for the future.
What is your background and how did you find yourself working as a stylist?
From a very early age, I started being interested in fashion and wanted to be either a fashion designer of an actress. I would often draw and make dress-up paper dolls. When I was 16, I started working in fashion stores, and soon I found myself doing visual merchandising and window dressing; it was there that I discovered my talent and love for styling. Ten years ago, I was interning at Elle magazine, where I learned the job to start building my portfolio. After that, I started my own business as a freelance fashion stylist.
I understand that for each project there are different expectations, but is there a common aesthetic/basis you start from styling each look that underpins your work?
I always try to add a personal touch by incorporating my aesthetic to every project I work on. I love a feminine, eclectic mix, and playing with colors and textures in my styling. I also love mixing high-fashion with young designers, and, if possible, rework some vintage for a unique story.
Editorial and advertising occupy the biggest spectrum of your work. How do you balance between the two? Which can sustain you, and where does your heart lie?
I love telling stories, and the best way to do so is editorial shoots – it is almost like making a short movie. Commercial is also an interesting field to work on, so I like to combine the two. Commercial work can sustain me at the moment. I am working towards finding the perfect balance, so I equally dedicate myself to both.
You’ve had some experience on celebrity styling. How would you rate this experience?
Celebrity styling is a bit different, because celebrities express their opinion on how they want to look. I like that to seek for the right balance in creating a look that suits them.
Personal styling is about to get huge. How do you feel about this sector, and what are the differences and challenges compared to your current job?
It feels a bit like celebrity styling, which I discussed in the previous answer. Dressing people for occasions is slightly different because you have to keep their personal wishes in mind.
Has it ever happened to you to turn down a client? Which do you believe is the most important element that guarantees a successful collaboration?
Yes, I have turned down one or two clients, because the job didn’t really fit my esthetic. For me, having a similar vision is important for a successful collaboration. I love creating and working on ideas with creative and passionate people.
Could you please discuss building an online portfolio? What is your approach to spreading the word out about your work and attracting new clients?
It took me years to get my portfolio where it is today. I did a lot of work for free with different photographers; that way you learn a lot about your style and get to know people who share your aesthetic. I love to work with the same people – I am loyal. But it is equally important to work with different people to evolve your style and show diversity.
I try to be active on social media, and I love Instagram. Of course, having a website with your portfolio is important, as well.
What is your view on incorporating trends in your work?
Creating fashion editorials is inspiring people about what they can buy and wear for a specific season, but for me is creating a fantasy world. I like to show my version of a trend to inspire them.
What clothes and which collections have captured your attention lately?
I am in love with mixing prints and textures; details and embellishments catch my eye. Also, the mix of female sensuality and androgyny; soft versus strong; face prints are about to be huge. Designers like Miuccia Prada, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen, Marni and Dries van Noten are great at that. I love the maximalism at Gucci and the strong woman at Dior. I love the work of Raf Simons for Calvin Klein and Phoebe Philo for Celine.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have just finished shooting for an online story showcasing new talents for a Dutch magazine, and I am currently contributing to the costume department of a new Dutch movie for a month and a half. I did some styling for video clips and commercials, but my dream would be to do styling for movies in addition to editorials. This is the first step to that!