Stylist Jasmine Benjamin on Rock Icons, Dressing Miguel & Memes
For this week’s Stylist Spotlight -- a glimpse into the creative minds styling music’s most fashionable artists -- Billboard caught up with wardrobing star Jasmine Benjamin. After breaking onto the music scene in 2004 as an Interscope Records intern, Benjamin spent the formative years of her career working with talents such as Outkast, Meghan Trainor, Rae Sremmurd and her longstanding client Miguel. Though Miguel and Benjamin have parted ways, the two worked together since 2012 and have created some unforgettable moments in music style, fusing his lusty sound with the rebellious rock look he’s now applauded for.
But outside of her monumental styling milestones and influential clientele, Benjamin stays grounded with meditation, horseback riding and straight-up nerding out about the galaxy and old art house films. She’s very serious about her cultural references -- she’s a breath of fresh air in an industry low-key oversaturated with self-proclaimed creatives and influencers. Get to know the woman styling today’s coolest musicians below.
What was your proudest Miguel style moment?
My proudest moment was the 2013 Billboard Music Awards when he sang “Adorn.” At the time, not many people were wearing jeans and chelsea boots or full Saint Laurent looks. I always like to think that for his genre, we were first to bring that style back. Now, everyone wears "rock" looks.
Another moment was the 2014 Grammys and that weekend of events. I styled Miguel on the carpet with patent leather and pointy boots, distressed denim, and chest-baring silk men’s blouses.
What is the “rock god” aesthetic?
I grew up in a house with parents who lived that cool, San Francisco hippie life in the ’60s and hung out with a lot of the rock stars that I look up to. There was so much self-expression! So many eras -- rockabilly, glam rock, heavy metal, grunge, etc. It's endless inspiration for me -- the colors, all of the bold risks, the costumes! They were gender fluid before that became such a trendy term. And the “IDGAF" attitude that is attached to all of these looks is so badass.
Which iconic rock stars do you look to for inspiration?
Freddie Mercury, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, George Harrison, Thin Lizzy, Slash, David Bowie (the Ziggy Stardust and Let’s Dance eras), Jim Morrison, Mexican punk band The Zeros, Aerosmith, Kurt Cobain (I was a preteen in the ’90s in Seattle).
What’s one trend you think will pop off in 2017?
Colors. All black everything is going to take a seat, which I am so thankful for. I’ve been wanting color to be important again for so long.
I also think the men’s silhouette is going to become looser and baggier. Looser jeans, no more tight and skinny. I’m so ready for the new new.
One trend you predict will stay in 2016?
Distressed denim, ugh! I used to really love it, and I styled Miguel with distressed denim since like 2013 -- everyone wasn’t doing that at the time we did distressed denim on his Wildheart album cover. That trend needs to chill for a bit.
How do you stay stylish in the snow?
This question is tough. I was born and raised in California and Seattle. I never really had to deal with snow until I lived in NYC for six years, and even then I would hide inside for as long as possible.
Favorite social media app and why?
Instagram. It’s a great way to keep up with everyone. I also like to use it to keep up on designers' collections and historical fashion profiles and MEMES. What did we do before those? I swap them with my friends constantly.
Who are some up-and-coming designers you've got your eye on?
Palm Angels, Alyx, Phlemuns, Pleasures, Proper Gang and Yproject.
Your mantra for 2017:
You can't build a house on a broken foundation. You have to do the work on yourself before gaining anything -- love, success, etc. Self-realization is so vital for anything to really grow.
-- #WILDHEART chapter 1 #bts with the leading beauty @kotaeberhardt and @miguel I was lifted -- all day by these two figuratively and literally. -- make sure you check the short film out⚡️ directed by Miguel and @tobiasnathan -- shouts to the whole team who made this happen❤️ and my team for your hard work @boxingmaya @_mogul