What do you think of when you think fashion? This month’s artist spotlight may change that.
We are pleased to have stylist and image consultant Ciciley Bailee Hoffman of mode. as out artist spotlight for August. As a long-time friend of the RevPub founders, Ciciley is one of our favorite people ever. She has style, grace, and an awesome presence that we hope you enjoy!
RevPub: What made you want to become a stylist, and how did you get your start?
Art, music, writing, design, dance, and film were a big part of my growing up — I have four parents who all have different but well-cultivated tastes in such things. I was well surrounded by expression and given ample opportunities to find the form that was right for me. After being admittedly mediocre at painting and music, I found theater. I bounced around from acting to lighting design to set design before eventually landing on costumes in high school, by which time I had fallen in love with fashion and vintage aesthetics. Costuming in theater allowed me to travel from the past to the future to places that lived only in the mind — while existing alongside music, dance, etc. other forms of expression i adored — and I was head over heels. In the meantime, I gained a reputation for being an honest and chic second opinion on things like prom dresses and band looks, which became the personal fashion consulting and artist image work I do now. Theater became films, advertisements, and editorials. I learned to sew in college, and that was the clincher; sewing is a zen paradise to me, and along with the rest, everything just … fit (not to make a bad pun).
RevPub: If you could dress/style anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Tilda Swinton. She is amazing. She has this fascinating, androgynous look and is notoriously open to avante garde fashion and experimentation. She’s also a feminist, art lover, and a damn good actress. She’s so interesting; I would love to see what we could do together.
As far as films, I would love to style anything directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and/or Marc Caro. They’ve done fabulous work together (The City of Lost Children and Delicatessen), as well as individually, in which entire fantasies are created and executed. And are quite delightful their aesthetic is incredible, their understanding of composition and color is unparalleled. I’d love to add my voice to their visual symphony.
RevPub: What are your favorite pieces you’ve designed?
Tied for first are a fabulous purse I made myself in college (it’s made out of an upholstery bolt, and I used an industrial sewing machine to get through the thick fabric) and a Captain America costume I made for a film called The Once Mighty with Fighting With Forks. I was approached, designed, and made that piece in five days for under $50, while working full time on other things, so i am proud of it … but I was also bribed with a Lite Brite to pull it off.
But that said, I don’t consider myself a designer. I could never create and execute 12 seasonal cohesive looks with a point of view for runway. I can design and make individual costumes for particular needs, but most of what I do is styling, costume, and wardrobe supervision — meaning I put looks together from pieces made by other people. My favorite piece in that regard is an as-of-now unreleased video I called Dangerous Pet with Chad McClarnon of Best Part Productions; the direction is on point, the two actors are fantastic and gorgeous, and we had classic cars to boot, so the vintage duds I put them in look outstanding.
RevPub: What are you most proud of? Was there anything you really didn’t like after the fact?
I’m most proud of Lime and Davenport, a short film I made in the 48-hour film project in 2012 with Paper Ghost Pictures directed by Motke Dapp. The 48 is a competition that takes place in cities all over the world wherein film making teams are given a genre, character name, prop, and line of dialogue and then two days to write, shoot, edit, and score an entire short film. We got fantasy, and the story is of an unhappy thrower of a lame party who discovers that she can begin the shindig over by squeezing a magic atomizer. Every time she does so, all of the costumes change to help indicate the restart to the audience. The result is around 75 costume changes in seven minutes, which pretty much encapsulates my preferred aesthetic when left to my own devices. If a producer asks me for a demo reel, i send them “L&D.” You can see it here http://vimeo.com/45842050.
Accomplishment-wise, however, I am most proud of the fact that I did wardrobe for four films that were selections of the Nashville Film Festival in 2014. Not only is it one of the oldest and most respected film festivals, it’s my hometown festival, too, so that was a thrill. (The films are The Upside of Down, To Be Loved, Bear With Me, and Sorry About Tomorrow).
If I’m ever disappointed in a final product, it’s usually because one cannot see the hat or necklace or another fastidious detail of something I have styled. I am meticulous about each element in every costume I design and exacting about checking test shots and camera monitors to be sure things look as I (and the client) want them to before they go to print or screen (this is why i insist on options and backups). That said, I have a particular fondness for shoes … unfortunately, footwear is generally what ends up on the cutting room floor during editing. Most people don’t realize it, but in films and commercials, the entire bodies of actors are rarely shown. Even shots of people walking down streets and stairs are not generally from the ground up. Fashion editorials tend to show the whole subject, so if Ive got some gear I really want showcased, I bust it out on those.
RevPub: What would you tell someone who wanted to get into fashion?
Hone your style and craft. Start with yourself; be true to what you like and how you want to look, not to trends. If you want to be a designer, draw/draft as often as you can and learn how to make clothes with skill. If you want to be a stylist, style your family. Style your friends. Style everyone who will let you and get adept. Learn to sew. If you want to be a costumer, learn the history of fashion, learn construction, and watch all the good movies, videos, commercials, and television you can. But regardless of what part of fashion interests you, be part of the community and do so confidently. find and use your voice. Oh, and weird doesn’t mean fashionable. Don’t ever mistake overdone or a designer label for style.
*All photos courtesy of Ciciley Bailee Hoffman.