News & Runway

Stylist Asanti Austin Sets the Record Straight

As the worlds of fashion and television meld together, fashion is becoming more accessible to the masses. The proliferation of fashion reality TV shows gives the impression that almost anyone can be a model, designer or stylist.

All you need is drive and talent, or so these new purveyors of fashion truths would have their viewers believe.

For insiders like fashion stylist Asanti Austin that simple equation could not be further from the truth. After almost a decade in the industry, Asanti confides that to be successful in fashion, it takes more than drive and talent.

Elements like luck, guts, and a tenacious doggedness that just won’t quit should be added to the equation.

Even with successful campaigns in Cosmopolitan, Elle, the Style section of the New York Times, and Harper’s Bazaar (Dubai), and having styled for the House of Berardi, Jill Sander, Timbaland, Jocelyn Gordon for Style 360, Mira Nair, and Emmy Rossum, Asanti feels that he still has much to accomplish.

What Asanti Austin does give himself credit for is his ability to spot a fashion trend way before that trend has mass appeal.

“Being creative is like being caught in the winds of innovation and change. A prescient person is able to determine change, nuances and subtleties before it has mass-market appeal. Oversized jewelry is a hot trend right now … I was incorporating that trend into my editorial work six years ago. I didn’t create that trend, but I was ahead of the curve.”

And he should also give himself kudos for incorporating his love of color and texture into editorial shoots, an aesthetic that he developed as an undergraduate in marine biology.

“My concept board could include some Jacques Cousteau photos, and a certain type of fish that conjures up shapes and silhouettes I may have seen in a collection. I will look at something aquatic and be reminded of certain textures and fabric choices.”

Asanti’s unbridled passion is evident not only in the finished product, but in elaborating on what excites him about styling. “ I love styling for runway shows, because you have to use your entire palette of styling skills. Unlike in an editorial where you may have six to 10 looks, in a fashion show you could have 40 to 50 looks. And within that collection, you can have a variety of looks."

Recognizing that no successful person makes it totally on their own merit, Asanti generously mentors aspiring stylists by passing on tried-and-true lessons.

“Aspiring stylists need to understand that to be successful in this industry you have to know more than how to dress someone well. A good grasp of fashion history, and fabrics and textures is important. You should be able to go to a runway show, and from the first two looks understand the designer’s aesthetic and the direction of that collection. Also, working with designers who are established in the industry is key. You can learn so much from them.”

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