MILAN — Being a celebrity stylist goes far beyond the creation of an outfit or a look. Stylists create an aesthetic, a common thread that accompanies the artist in every performance.WWD spoke with Ramona Tabita, Nicolò Cerioni, Rebecca Baglini, Simone Furlan and Susanna Ausoni to discuss the research process behind each look, what it means to be a stylist in 2022 and what motivates them.
Ramona Tabita is a Sicilian-born celebrity stylist who curated the look of top model Mariacarla Boscono for the Venice Festival in 2021 and works with Italian pop singer Elodie, among many others. For Boscono, the stylist chose a vintage 2016 burgundy Jean Paul Gaultier dress matched with tights in the same color.
“I have always been an aesthete, so consequently fashion has always been a part of my life,” said Tabita. Dressing an artist and choosing their aesthetics is a very intimate and personal experience, so for Tabita “it is important to establish a relationship with them and once I have identified the vision they have of themselves, I shape it by proposing mine.”
By closely working with musicians and celebrities and guiding them in every important performance or red carpet look, Tabita has established close friendships with each of her clients. “The friendship was born after they trusted me, over time and also by sharing a path together,” she said. “The stylist shares the most prominent moments of the career with the artist, so I think it is inevitable that this bond will be created.”
Tabita also explained that, to make a look work, she constantly works with brands. She added that: “It is very important for me to view the collections live, to preview pieces that have not yet been communicated on the market and to work four hands with the creative team to create ad-hoc garments together.”
For someone who “never had the intention to create fashion,” working as a celebrity stylist with Italian and international singers is something that perhaps not even he could have imagined. “I’m not a fashionista — fashion shows have never been my dream and fashion for me was just a representation of what I saw on performers — my idols have always been Madonna, David Bowie and Raffaella Carrà. For me, fashion tells something about performing art,” he said.
Cerioni has long collaborated with Italian rock band Måneskin, winner of last year’s Eurovision Festivall.
His creative process “starts from a thousand inspirations: I love cinema, I read constantly, I like to do research. It’s a little bit of everything, and also I am very influenced by pop culture,” he said. Indeed, for the 64th edition of the Grammy Awards, Cerioni dressed Maneskin with total looks from Jean Paul Gaultier — rocking dresses made with Scottish motifs in yellow tones and tailored pieces.
The stylist also believes that “today, the visual part is no longer separated from the musical one, a complete and contemporary artist in my opinion has both things. Aesthetics must reflect the music, there is no separation.”
Simone Furlan started working as a stylist by chance. “I studied art history and then worked as art director, and one day a friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in helping him create a look for a rap singer. I said ‘yes.’ I had never been a stylist before, but from there brands and talents started noticing me,” he said. Furlan is known for dressing young talents and singers in the Italian music scene, getting them noticed by brands that still have hesitation when it comes to dressing emerging talents.
For the Sanremo Music Festival last year, the stylist dressed 20-year-old Italian pop singer Madame with a total look from Dior. “It wasn’t easy. However, together with Maria Grazia Chiuri, we believed in the project of this very young girl who only had three songs out — it is sometimes difficult to make brands understand how important it is to dress our Italian talents.”
Furlan is also aware that to work with celebrities, there has to be a certain level of communication and often disagreement in order to achieve the desired look. “Sometimes I want to make my idea work so bad that I miss the moment of confrontation, and this was certainly penalizing. The lesson I learned working as a stylist is to cross-pollinate each other, to know each other, to change ideas.” When working with musicians, he likes to be inspired by the song and to work around it — through clothing he wants to reflect what the song is about, he explained.
At the moment, Furlan is working on a special project in collaboration with Vogue Italia and RAI for the Sanremo Festival: He will interview Italian stylists to better understand the process and work that goes behind creating each look.
While Rebecca Baglini’s journey to styling wasn’t simple, her passion for fashion stems from a very young age when, “my grandmother took me to the theater and there I started noticing costumes and clothing,” she said. Baglini learned how to sew, “but I wasn’t patient enough,” so then she “started drawing, but I wasn’t precise and so I thought there has to be something! I was changing draperies, I was modifying the clothes and putting them together in a different way. That’s when I realized I wanted to work as a stylist.”
When doing research for a look, Baglini prefers to find a common theme between the song and the outfit. “For a musical project I like to understand the key words of the songs, I always ask to listen to the pieces and songs in advance to have a clear plan of how I have to work,” she said. Her focus “is linked to a very specific Italian era, even if obviously I always put an element of contrast, a stimulus that tries to unhinge [things].”
She is aware of the change that is happening in the fashion industry. “When I started doing this job, in 2012, I witnessed the big change. During that time brands started choosing talents and other out-of-the-ordinary types of beauty for their campaigns, shoots, runways. It was certainly groundbreaking then, but nowadays if we watch a fashion show and we only see models it makes it boring, there has to be an element of uniqueness.”
When asked why the role of the stylist is so important in the music scene today, Baglini responded: “I think I’m almost sorry that my work is so fundamental at times! I’m happy because obviously it’s my job, but on the other hand, if I think that music were born in an era where there was no TV and therefore only the voice was heard — I think there was a real loyalty to music.”
“My journey into the world of styling began a long time ago. I have always had a strong fascination with contemporary art. I discovered that there is a strong connection between art and fashion and from there a thousand doors, a thousand worlds, many imaginary [worlds] have opened,” said Susanna Ausoni.
The Milan-born stylist has always worked in the music scene. She started her career at MTV Italia where she began curating the image of countless Italian pop singers. Before planning the final look, she is to “consider the musical atmosphere. The project I have in front of me. I start from the music and rotate around it.”
Ausoni’s passion for music and fashion have always led her to play with clothes, to create characters and make the artist feel confident and powerful in the outfit. “I look at how people inspire me, I look at their feelings,” she added. Ausoni pointed out that newspapers and magazines often criticize looks of celebrities without taking into consideration the work and hours spent on them. “I like numbers in mathematics and philosophy. I never like them in a judgement. I think they can lead to insecurity, like any negative judgement, and make you lack courage to express yourself. Not only for artists, even people who don’t do this job and are simply reading an article.”