Niki Schwan, the stylist who brought the world some of |
Drake At Lil Wayne's Post-Jail Party
NIKI SCHWAN: "I worked with
The 'Glee' Cast's School-Days Look
NIKI SCHWAN: "I think
Leighton Meester's "Somebody To Love" Video
NIKI SCHWAN: "I don't necessarily think that, overall, she's a style icon, but this video... I always take different pops from this video to show clients. Every detail of this video was luxe fashion.
Pop Youth: Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, The Jonas Brothers
NIKI SCHWAN: "Record sales in this market are incredible and have kind of kept the music industry alive. When you have those numbers, they turn into the licensing deals, and then apparel deals, and then the trends come from this force. Since the era of Britney, we haven't seen that type of reaction to young pop-stars. The girls are age-appropriate, they never wear anything too low-cut.
Taylor Momsen's Rocker Look
NIKI SCHWAN: "
Lady Gaga & Beyonce's "Telephone" Video
NIKI SCHWAN: "From concept to completion this video was dynamic. Everything that was going on epitomized style in 2010. Obviously
Cher In Vanity Fair & At The VMAs
NIKI SCHWAN: "It's interesting that Lady Gaga brought the leotard thing back and Beyonce did [too in] 'Single Ladies,' but
Diddy In Vogue & GQ
NICKI SCHWAN: "The marriage of Annie Leibovitz and
Justin Bieber & Kim Kardashian In Elle
NIKI SCHWAN: "Kim has really come into her own and has learned what works for her body over the last year. The style that they portrayed has that old-school 'Graduate' feel to it, and it really works for her body. She did an amazing job as this luxe older woman. Fashion wise, this was a moment styled so perfectly. I really think Justin had a moment [here] as well. He was looking like this young, sexy thing. He was wearing brands that were relevant, everything had credits. They were able to take samples from grown men's fashion and put it on this kid with his little kicks and his little shades. Grown women who don't have kids, might not know who Justin is - Now they're like, 'Who is this kid?'"
Ke$ha At the VMAs & EMAs
NIKI SCHWAN: "I was at the VMAs and I saw this outfit and it was literally made of trash bags. The fit was so poor I really could not believe that her team let her go out like that. She tries too hard, I dont know how else to say it. I think she's so incredibly talented and I think shes a beautiful young lady, but I think she tries so hard to be recognized. It's not a Gaga moment. I would love to see her bring on a new team to redevelop her style. I'm ok with her being wild and funky and edgy and this combo of rock and roll and whatever else, but I just feel like she hasn't really nailed it. At the EMAs she looked like an elf. It was bad from head to toe. She's her own fashion moment and its not in a good way. This is that moment we dont want our kids to look back at."
Katy Perry's "California Girls" Video & Album Cover
NIKI SCHWAN: "She's young and fresh and sexy, but she's sexy in a way that's not inappropriate. I think her style is [as a] pin-up for our generation and I love everything about it. Her album cover... who can be naked and still be that cute? Your Grandma's not even going to be mad when she sees her naked! Because its done in such a tasteful, beautiful, playful way. This video was also very Murakami inspired as well. She did things I couldn't believe she got away with because, again, shes just so fun and cute. This video took her style to the next level; this is what she is representing and she's standing by it and no one is going to touch it. As a style icon, she was so cutesy before, but this video made that 'cutesy' a definite it-trend."
Kanye West At Yankee Stadium
NIKI SCHWAN: "I think it's this 'modern Scarface' moment that Kanye has brought back to the table. But for me, in that red leather, he just overdid it on every level in a great and memorable way. The chains were bigger than ever, the suit was tighter than ever, it was leather instead of fabric, and he wore it all of the nights, even though both Nicki [Minaj] and Jay-Z changed. I think that he's an icon of our time; hes able to bring high-end designer fashion and translate it to the music community as well as the young people. He's received so much respect from the higher-end brands and has been able to show how much of a force the hip-hop community is to people who might not have otherwise given it a chance. Everything he touches is golden. There is no detail overlooked."
Nicki Minaj's 'Vibe' Cover
NIKI SCHWAN: "I think [the VIBE cover] launched Nicki's career. The cover is Murakami inspired -- the outfit is a Murakami barbie doll, very much like the statues that he does. We ultimately wanted to recreate the statues but we didnt want it to look too Halloween-like, so I decided to mix body paint with the outfit. Half of it is bodypaint, and other parts are leather. I tried to add an edge to it so it wasnt so girly. The original Murakami doll has long blonde hair, where as she wanted to wear a short orange wig, so it was Nicki's take on it as well. I really saw a transition while working with her. She really became a superstar in this moment. I think when we look back on it and she is in that top tier of superstars of our generation, this cover will be her first memorable thing that people look back at."
Lady Gaga's Meat Dress at the VMAs
NIKI SCHWAN: "My number one is the meat dress that Lady Gaga wore to the VMAs. There are so many memorable moments with Lady Gaga this year but the meat dress is so outrageous that it vetoes all of the rest. I was behind stage at the VMAs and it was disgusting. I mean, it was falling apart, it was stinky, it was literally MEAT. I was like 'Is that dirty!?' I wouldn't say that [her style] is the most fabulous or the most trendy; I don't even necessarily think that she starts trends, even though she brought back the leotard thing. I think that she has inspired other artists to push the envelope. [Nicola] Formechetti, her stylist, is a genius-level creative director and they have a magical relationship and I think it shows."
Star Stylist Niki Schwan
The breadth of Nicki Minaj stylist and Vibe Magazine Fashion Director Niki Schwan's experience working with everyone from Quincy Jones to Courtney Love compelled Schwan to leave styling in the late '90s to start her own brand, Lura Starr.
"I took a break from the music industry for a while," Schwan says. "I felt like it wasn't my number one for the long term, and I had an idea for a brand. So I started designing the brand and it somehow still brought me back to the music industry."
The marriage of a personal line and experience in music styling led her to one of her most memorable gigs. "I was approached to make a custom bikini for the David LaChappelle / Mariah Carey Rollling Stone cover. That cover was huge because that was a time when fashion was mixing with the urban market -- it was very crossover."
In 2009 Schwan was approached to help relaunch the magazine Vibe. "They came to me and said, 'We really believe that you are the person to rebuild this brand and the fashion department with us.'"
With the goal of putting Vibe back on the map, Schwan influenced cover concepts, resulting in one of the best-selling Vibe covers of all time -- the June 2010 shoot with NIcki Minaj. "I had never even met her and I made the costume exactly to her measurements and she was shocked. She said to me, 'I want this to be the costume that goes in my Hard Rock case.' Vibe has always been known for launching artists careers... and we were the first to do her in that way."
This initial collaboration with Minaj resulted in Schwan styling Nicki for her first album, "Pink Friday." "She wanted color and I made most of the 'Pink Friday' outfits. That was a magical day. Nicki really doesn't like to do fittings. She wont even do fittings for a video because her energy and moods change. You could fit an outfit for her and she could decide in two hours that she's not in that mood anymore. She's really artistic and creative to the umpteenth power."
Schwan continues to work with Minaj, most recently choosing Nicki's notable beige pantsuit at the VMAS. "She has a great sense of style and she's very avant garde. I really feel like it's obvious the times that I have done her in the last few months. People have been able to say on Twitter, 'Niki Schwan, where were you? I know you didnt do that!' The times when I have done her, people say it's had my touch all over it, and that's a good feeling."
Despite working with a diversity of clients and bodytypes, Schwan points out three important rules to follow as a stylist:
"Fit is essential. I think so many times people want to wear a certain look or a certain style but its just not right for their body. As women we are all paranoid about being fat. I really studied how vintage fashions are built out how the undergarments are supposed to work -- even before Spanx hit I was using girdles. If I have to take less money to have a tailor on site, I do, because I would sooner ensure that my fit is going to be right than not."
"Number two is that I really like to make sure that whatever we are doing is current so the artist can translate the look as a current trend as well as have a timeless, classic appeal. I really want someone in 20 years to look at this and say, 'That sh*t is FLY! Thats Hot!' Not like, 'What were they thinking!'"
"Some women are more patient to wear things that are less comfortable than others. Nicki Minaj always likes to be comfortable. She wont even squeeze herself into something even if she really needs to get into it. While some women are more like, 'OK, Ill wear those shoes even if they kill my feet because they are hot.' Comfort affects our mood. If you can't breathe or if your feet are killing you it translates in the pictures. I try and find ways that make the picture look really hot and dynamic while still being comfortable."
- The Hook