Saturday, January 3, 2009

Stylist Q&A: Lara Backmender

Lara Backmender, celebrity stylist, chats about her jobEver wanted a cool job? No, I mean so cool you work with celebs like Amanda Bynes, Scarlett Johansson (see her work to the left), Leighton Meester and Jessica Simpson? I was so excited (jumping out of my seat excited!) when celeb stylist Lara Backmender, 32, wanted to chat (in between her trips to Jamaica other exotic locales, of course!). Here's what she said:

IHH: What first got you into fashion - and how did you become interested in styling?
I was set on becoming a women's fashion designer before I started my degree at Parsons School of Design in New York, but I would spend my summers off from school assisting commercial stylists in order to make some money and stay in the city. Once I graduated and had worked for numerous fashion houses, I eventually began work with a friend on a clothing line but needed a side job to pay the bills. I happened to be at the designer Susan Cianciolo's holiday party when I met Haidee Findlay-Levin - a talented stylist of whom I was a fan. She was looking for an assistant and I was looking for a job while I worked on the clothing line. Her first piece of advice to me was to stick with design and avoid styling as a career. Naturally, I rebelled. It's a difficult industry and the job is extremely demanding. You have to truly love fashion and love to work to be a stylist.

IHH: Is there another stylist in the industry whom you look up to?
LB: I have always admired the editorial work of Joe McKenna, whom I had the opportunity to work with, as well as Haidee Findlay-Levin. Also, one of the French Vogue editors, Marie-Amelie Sauve.

IHH: Where does your inspiration come from?
I think my styling sensibilities are somewhat innate, but most of my personal inspiration comes from my particular interests in photography, film, music, art, books and traveling. Sometimes another collection can inspire or spark an idea for a story. When I'm working with celebrities, it's their personality and body shape that inspires me.

IHH: What are three items a girl must never live without in her everyday wardrobe?

I come from a realistic approach in terms of spending money. If you do not have a lot to spend, I would recommend saving and splurging on accessories. They really can pull an outfit together and make it look chic and tasteful.

1. A great pair of shoes whether they are heels, flats or boots (depending on the season and shape). I am usually a fan of anything embellished, patent, metallic or in a vibrant or unusual color.

2. A great bag/purse. I think it all depends on your needs and personality, but an amazing accessory can express what you want about yourself. Plus, it is practical. I use the same approach as I do for shoes and again I think it is a great investment if you splurge a bit, especially if you chose a bag that you can use from day to night.

3. As much as I would like to say a great black dress or a super pair of jeans, for clothing I am a big stickler to items having a perfect fit and what makes you feel good. In knowing this, going back to “everyday wardrobe” I would have to say lingerie. A bra that really fits properly that makes you feel and look sexy and panties that make you feel sexy or comfy. There is nothing like lingerie to make you feel sexy and confident. Plus, when I am feeling blue I love to buy lingerie for a quick feel-good fix. It doesn’t have to cost much and it is a necessity! I don't believe you can ever have too much lingerie!
(I Heart Heels doesn't either!)

IHH: Heels or flats?
Realistically, I wear flats. Right now, I am loving my Zucca black slip-on with silver studs and my Doc Marten floral printed 8-hole boots. On nights or days when I’m cabbing I love my heels, but since most days I am a professional schlepper, I need comfort over glam. (Except when I'm in LA where I'm always in my heels - I can throw them off in the car!)

IHH: What is a typical day like for you?
When I am working days back to back, I'm up early and on the computer and phone requesting looks in Europe or following up. Then, I'm either off to showrooms pulling/selecting clothes for a fashion story or a celebrity and simultaneously having my assistants following up the rest of the requests in the U.S. when the showrooms are open. Evenings are spent in my office returning e-mails and browsing before researching and requesting. Otherwise, I am traveling for work, shooting and trying to squeeze time for the gym to release some stress. Multi-tasking would really best describe my days.

IHH: Do you keep up with fashion blogs yourself, or do you watch any shows like Project Runway or Stylista?
As much as I love pop culture and really enjoy keeping up with it, I actually do not watch that much TV. I don't have cable because it would just be too dangerously addicting. I miss having IFC, Sundance & Bravo, so I catch up when I can on hotel stays. I love my Netflix and can travel with them, too. I honestly don't know how other stylists can keep up on blogs. As much as I think they are a great platform, I'm always struggling to find more time in the day. It's hard enough for me to get through the daily e-mails. I am a fan of and I try to check them out every once in awhile when I can spare some time.

What are your three favorite fall trends this season, and what designer are you most looking forward to seeing for the Fall 2009 shows?
LB: 1. The perfect minimal looks of Marni with color and Prada with lace.
2. The mixed prints of Thakoon and Rachel Comey.

3. The avante-garde and sculptural drapes and cuts of Rick Owens and Junya Watanabe.

I am most looking forward to seeing this coming season of Phoebe Philo's first collection for Celine.


  1. Lara you rock!!!!!!!

  2. Lara = fierce and ruling

  3. Lara!
    Way to go! Love your work and love you!

  4. Ms. Backmender... Such a smartie stylist, love it!

  5. We've come a long way, baby:) <3 Melissa D.

  6. I´m very glad after read this chatting....Lara, now you are growing up (in your passion career) are a celeb stylist!!!! heart is bitting of happiness about you...i´m very proud because one day I met you and I knew a little part of you.....very proud....congratulations from Cusco- PerĂº


  7. Always a glam slam baby!


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