I had the complete pleasure of getting to speak to Celebrity Fashion Stylist Ryan Christopher so I could share his light with all of you! Ryan Christopher is a Birmingham, Alabama native. He graduated from Miles College with a Degree in Business. He officially began his journey to the top in the fashion industry by styling and producing Fashion Shows for his Alma Mater. Along with that, he has reached out and networked along the way and has created a beautiful start to a fruitful career. Ryan Christopher has styled celebrities such as Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta Reality Television Star Erica Dixon, VH1′s LisaRaye McCoy, and has also worked with a number of accomplished models and fashion moguls.
Get to know Ryan Christopher with me! You’ll love his inspiring story!
It’s definitely safe to say that being a “Celebrity ANYTHING” is a HUGE time commitment. For those of you who who are looking to pursuit a career in the fashion industry, Ryan Christopher really allowed me to examine both him and his occupation to better give you an understanding of what a career as a Fashion Stylist is like–at least through the eyes of Ryan Christopher. What’s a typical day in the life of Ryan Christopher like? A lot of days I stay in the stores, not always to get anything or to style, but just to refresh my ‘eye’ and be the first to see the newest and hottest items. It’s definitely an upper-hand to have. A lot of people think I read fashion magazines, but I don’t anymore. I used to though. I don’t stay up on trends, I just go with what I think is hot. On a typical day, I’m in the mall; always on the phone; always on the computer, looking around online–which could definitely get you in trouble because then you see things you want yourself (ha!). But basically I just look at clothes all day. And I’ll be honest.. of course, I have lazy days when I just stay in bed watching TV all day.
I was tickled at how shameful Ryan Christopher sounded for needing to take a lazy day! You can definitely tell that he has a passion for what he does because he felt so bad about admitting that some days–he’s just lazy. We all need a break, but sometimes when you’re passionate about your occupation it’s really easy to forget that! After learning of his lazy day guilt I asked, “What is your go-to text message excuse when you need that lazy day?” That’s a good question because I never think about it when I’m doing it, he laughed. I am a very silly person, so it depends on who it is that texts me. If it’s someone that knows me well (like Erica [Dixon]), I may say something like “I’m dead today, please don’t ask me about any clothes.” But for those I don’t know so well, I generally go with “I’m sorry, I’m really busy today…” or something along those lines.
As I mentioned earlier, you can definitely tell that Ryan Christopher has a passion for fashion. When I say the word fashion, where does your mind go from there? It goes everywhere because for me anything can inspire fashion. Whether that fashion be wrong or right, it’s very interpretive. It’s something that people can interpret any way they want. That doesn’t make their interpretation right or wrong. It’s just about who likes it. You have an audience for everything. Everything inspires me. I could go to a rock concert and be inspired to do fashion that fits that audience. I think it’s important to let the environment inspire your fashion. Passion is a most certainly a privilege. When you’re passionate about something you do, often times, you gain the confidence and courage to show your work off in any way that you can.
After being tagged in an Instagram post about a New York Style Competition by a friend, Ryan Christopher displayed that exact form of confidence we just spoke about by entering this breathtaking piece (pictured above) into a popular New York Style Competition. How easy or difficult was it to enter your submission into the Mahna New York Style Competition? It wasn’t that hard. I’m one of those people who just acts on it and then later thinks, “OMG, what did I just do?!” I’m confident at the time of submitting it, but soon after I’m always left feeling like that. I’ve always been like that. Do you feel like most times when you make that fast decisions, does it normally end well for you? Sometimes, he replied modestly.
While looking through Ryan Christopher’s professional portfolio I was completely drawn in by this picture of Erica Dixon. She looks so full of life. How do you go about capturing the person in your pieces? How do you go about capturing there identity? Or is that even a part of the process at all? “Of course, that’s a part of the process. I think that’s where many stylists go wrong. They try to just put pieces on the client. You have to wear the outfit; you don’t let the outfit wear you.” I completely agreed with this statement. He continued on the topic by saying, “I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but a good example of this is the Ralph Lauren gown that Lupita Nyong’o wore to the Golden Globe Awards.The dress was gorgeous, but I think she didn’t sell the dress. I thought the dress was way too mature for her. She seems so youthful and it just didn’t have a youthful flair or anything. She looked great, but I thought the dress was wearing her. A lot of times people just look at the dress without considering who’s wearing it. I look at the bigger picture. I really get to know my clients. For example, with Erica, when I knew I was going to meet with her I Googled her to get a sense of her personality and other styles. Then I worked on how I could keep her where she was with fashion, but just increase it while adding a little ‘me’ in all at the same time.”
Getting a little more personal with Ryan Christopher, I wanted to know which was more difficult, styling his clients or styling himself. “What’s harder? Ooooh, Styling myself! I can never find anything to wear and everyone is always like ‘you have so many clothes’, but I really don’t. It is just really hard for me to find things I like. I’m one of those people who dresses according to how I feel. My style has the same chicness overall, but the style varies–sometimes I’ll go urban chic, other times I’ll do a different type of urban dress. I’m also very picky so any little thing will make me pass a piece by. I would definitely say it’s harder styling myself.”
Fashion is an art. Just one that is often underplayed as an art-form–like writing. What words of encouragement could you give to people who are thinking about pursuing a career in the fashion industry? “Stay encouraged. Stay focused. If I can do it, anybody can do it. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m on the right path. No matter where you are in the world, to be a young man saying “hey I want to be a stylist” I never wanted to be a celebrity stylist, but to turn into that–a guy from Birmingham–and still making it is a testimony. And DREAM BIG. Don’t think that your goals are unreachable. Being from Birmingham, a lot of people were asking how I was meeting all of these people and the truth is, I met them [in Birmingham]. I met them by reaching out to them. That was the drive I had to really want to make it. I needed to get my feet wet.
Also, I’d tell anybody to learn the craft. Style, well that is a God-given talent to have ‘the eye’, but someone can teach you the business and how to go about doing things. There is more to it than picking out clothes and putting them on people. Know your place. There are people who want it to happen right now, but that’s not the way it works. When I got started, I never over-stepped my position and that helped me to be noticed. On set, I wouldn’t speak unless spoken to and nowadays there are people (who may not do it intentionally), but they behave the wrong way because they want it so badly. Know that your time will come. Be diligent. Work hard. You can sleep when you’re dead. You have to keep that mentality because it’s a hustle.”
I shared with Ryan Christopher my own personal thoughts on where I was with my career and how excited I was to be progressing the way I am, referring to now being able to conduct interviews with established people like himself. I feel there are times people are too modest. People not seeing themselves in the same light as other people do. I continued to share with him the process of me building The Goddess Column from the group up and he interjected, “It’s funny that you say you’re building your empire from the ground up. I’ll take that statement and say, with what I’m building from the ground up, I’m only on the second floor.” I found this SO powerful. Adopt that mentality.
With working with celebrities, you would think at least a little attitude is given especially when dealing with women and what their wearing. What is that relationship like between you and your clients when you all are deciding what they will wear? “When your client trusts you, they really just put it in your hand. The most difficult thing I’ve done (for TV purposes) was during season 2 of LHHATL. The first thing we do are green screens, which is the commentary the viewer sees during the show. We have to submit a minimum of three, but no more than five looks. That was my first time styling a person who was going to be on TV. Things definitely look different on the television compared to being in person so I was worried about some of the looks not going over well. That was definitely a challenge because you’re wondering what colors to use with the green screen, if they’ll like it… it was a LOT to deal with. You just want to do so well, but going into season 3 I was ready. I had all the colors, knew not to do white… I was just a little more prepared. For the reunion we had to submit pictures of the dress and they were not having it with me. Just we don’t like that, we don’t like that, but that’s because they didn’t see the full picture like I did. They definitely gave me hell about her mama. Then we added all the hair and makeup and all that everyone was like ‘Oh, she looks so pretty.’ It’s very intimidating to show them how you can bring these styles to life.”
He recalled another time while working with LisaRaye one day when she had to warn him, “Boy, do not bring all them clothes with you” because he brings so many things with him to set because he likes for his clients to have options. “If you don’t have options, you make the decision hard. I bring my options and you pick what you like so that you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. I just learn their personality and what they will or won’t like, but overall I don’t get much attitude. I build the relationship. You have to know your client.” Are your male clients different than the women? I have one male client who’s a bit of a diva, but most of the men don’t really care. They’re like ‘whatever’ where as my female clients are like, ‘you want me to wear this shoe?!’ and I’m just left there like, YESSSS, this shoe.”
While doing a little Instasurfing on Ryan Christopher’s Instagram account, I noticed that plenty of ‘shade’ was thrown around on some of the pictures he posted on some of his clients. The negative comments were more about someone’s hair or other things–not his pieces–but I still wanted to know what it was like for him. What is it like having people speak negatively about your clients hair, etc. on your IG account? Most of the people that say something negative–just go on their Instagram and you’ll see why. And that’s all I have to say about that. Nine times out of ten the naysayer’s page is just like “girl..”
We can look for more of Ryan Christopher’s amazing work on Erica Dixon for the upcoming Season 3 premiere of LHHATL in May. He shared, “you will definitely see more of my work from Erica’s looks. You can expect a little change, I don’t style her for every last thing, but you’ll know when you see me. ” We’ll also be able to see more of his styles on Jewel Tankard during the second season of Bravo’s ‘Thicker than Water‘ when that starts. “You’ll be seeing a different Jewel Tankard. She looks like a totally different woman so look out for that.” Ryan Christopher also worked with musical artist, Ruben Studdard on his latest project ‘Unconditional Love’. “I was really excited about Ruben’s album. It was so much fun and we did it in L.A., so that was obviously fun. I liked working with him, he’s really laid back. I worked with him a few years back on a video, so to get that call to work with him again was great.”
I couldn’t let Ryan Christopher go without getting a little fashion advice to share with you all: “Go to the unexpected places. The unresolved places, that’s what I call them. Don’t be afraid of those stores. Just because people don’t go in them doesn’t mean they don’t have great stuff. Grab a few pieces from here and there. Don’t be scared of those underdog places. I’m telling you, you can pull the look together. Also, reinvent some of the looks in your closet. Take a dress and get it cut into a mini-dress. There are so many options to reinventing your looks–play with your clothes. Utilize the things you have because when you do that, you can wear things again… and again… and again… and again.”