Wilford Lenov is a 25-year-old celebrity stylist who previously served as the fashion director for Ladygunn magazine and as a fashion editor and contributor for Cake magazine and DesignSceneMagazine. His work has been featured in Elle, Russian Vogue, Nylon and Teen Vogue, as well as on the red carpet and in live performances all over the world. His clients include Nick Jonas, Ashanti, JoJo, Bebe Rexha, Cameron Monaghan, Jake McDorman, Sabrina Carpenter and more.
Billboard was able to catch up with Lenov to talk about how he got started, his favorite current trends, his ultimate dream clients and how he would style a Coachella-goer this weekend.
Tell us how you got started.
I’ve been styling since I was 17 and professionally since I was 20, which is when I was signed to the Celestine Agency. I started off working as the fashion director for Ladygunn magazine, which is where I met some incredible artists, like Pia Mia, Cody Simpson and Alli Simpson.
How do you meet your clients? Do you tend to do a lot of freelance work, or is most of your work through your agency?
Most of my work is through my agency, Celestine; they connect me to most of the people I want to work with. I’ve also met a lot of amazing people along the way: I worked with a photographer named Solmaz Saberi who helped me develop my book and introduced me to some clients, including Paris Hilton. As a stylist, you meet your clients at photo shoots, which can be a fun, creative way to test each other out. Every time I go onto a set, I go in with the mind-set that I just have to have fun, and if we click, we click. It’s kind of like a blind date.
What does your styling look like on your clients?
I love high cuts in the legs and showing a little bit of cleavage. I also really like strong shoulders. I love anything that gives off a sexy, cool vibe with a structured fit.
You’ve styled in almost every format imaginable: editorial, live performance, red carpet… Which is your favorite and why?
It’s hard to pick because each style is so different for me. For performance, I gear toward outfits that are sexy, fun and — for lack of a better word — a little slutty. Especially for pop stars, I feel like there needs to be a little bit of that vibe worked in there. Take Ashanti, for example: I feel like she has always been sexy, but now, she’s, like, POW! In the past two years I’ve been working with her, I’ve wanted to give her a fun, youthful vibe that still reads sexy and mature. So I think my favorite work is for live performances, because giving an audience a show that is styled well really adds [to the performance].
It’s pretty well-known that you and Bebe Rexha are best friends. How does your work relationship interface with your friendship?
I actually met Bebe around [the time I got signed]. I worked with her first and became friends with her afterward, and now five years later — oh my God, it’s been five years! — we’re still really close. It’s exciting to see that she’s blowing up now; she’s been one of the few people that I’ve ridden with for a while. We work together on and off. When you become very close with a client, you just know them so well. For a while, we were together 24/7, almost to the point where I was scared to lose the friendship, but I’d rather have her friendship than have her as a client. Mixing business with pleasure isn’t always a good thing, but we found a way to make it work.
Who are your dream clients?
Well, I would die to style Jennifer Lopez. Rob [Zangardi] and Mariel [Haenn] — who are J.Lo’s go-to stylists — are my absolute idols; everything they do with her is f—ing iconic. No matter where she goes, even if it’s the grocery store, she looks incredible. I would also really love to work with Mariah [Carey]. And can I name some people who are dead? Because I really want to style Whitney [Houston] and Selena [Quintanilla].
What are some current trends that you’re loving right now?
I’m really excited that the ’90s/early 2000s style is coming back. All the denim, fishnets and chokers kind of remind me of TLC. Even the new Guess and Tommy Hilfiger collections that just came out are really cool. I’m convinced that the whole world should just go back to the early 2000s; I think that style is so fresh. I think people might be afraid to take that style to the next level, because they’re scared of looking crazy, but I think everyone is playing it a little safe. I say bring the bandanas back, bring back those sun visors… I am all for it. That look is hot.
As a bonus, we asked Wilford to design us two easy outfits in anticipation of Coachella the next two weekends.
Coachella Outfit #1
Top: a long-sleeved mesh shirt, like this graphic blue one from Unif Clothing
Bottoms: high-waisted distressed light-wash denim shorts, like this pair from Urban Outfitters
Accessories: a bright belt (like this red one from Urban Outfitters), yellow-tinted sunnies (like this pair from Quay Australia), graphic platform booties (like this flaming pair from Unif Clothing)
Coachella Outfit #2
Top: a fun bralette, like this sparkly one from Unif Clothing, paired with an oversized denim jacket, like this embroidered one from Urban Outfitters
Bottoms: black high-waisted denim shorts, like this go-to pair from Urban Outfitters
Accessories: thigh-high boots (like this towering black pair designed by Jeffrey Campbell), mirrored sunnies (like this pair from Quay Australia)