In music and celebrity culture, stylists help define a star’s image. “People see you before they hear you speak,” celebrity stylist Marcus Paul says. “It’s an impression that speaks volumes.”
Styling and wardrobing is a behind-the-scenes business, and if it’s done right, it’s completely aligned with and authentic to the artist’s vision. With social media bringing fans closer to musicians’ lives, styling has also moved beyond carpets and music videos. More than ever, artists and stylists work to create an image that will make a lasting impression on fans and fashion alike.
Here are the stylists working with some of the coolest up-and-coming women in music.
Who He Styles: Zara Larsson
If you’re a fan of Pusha T, you’re probably familiar with Marcus Paul’s work. The former model-turned-stylist has worked with the rapper, along with names like LeBron James, Jay Z and, most recently 18-year-old Swedish pop star Zara Larsson.
Paul works with Larsson to put together a look that reflects her down-to-earth and feminine approach. “You can tell when something’s being forced, and I think it’s always important to have a very natural, effortless approach to styling and wardrobing,” Paul explains to Billboard.
The two worked together on her vintage Thierry Mugler “museum-worthy” look for the 2016 VMAs, where Larsson attended as a best new artist nominee, as well as the shimmery New York brand Nomia dress for her late-night performance of her Hot Dance/Electronic Songs No. 1 hit “Never Forget You” on The Tonight Show earlier this year. Larsson sports lots of metallics and neutral colors, but Paul says she’s always experimenting and trying new things.
“You have to consider any and everything,” Paul tells Billboard about styling women. “It’s a process, but I love it.”
Who She Styles: Halsey
L.A.-based celebrity stylist Jordan Grossman has worked with everyone from model Sofia Richie to JoJo and is responsible for many red-carpet looks, advertisements and edgy editorial spreads. Grossman is also responsible for some of Billboard Rising Star Halsey’s most memorable style moments.
At the 2016 VMAs on Aug. 28, Halsey performed Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 song “Closer” with The Chainsmokers in a memorable outfit: a white mesh and metallic under-boob-baring crop top, an oversize silver choker, and matching wide-leg pants all by designer Bryan Hearns. Grossman has also worked with the 22-year-old singer for her Badlands tour, putting together looks with L.A. celebrity designer Ashton Michael that represented the pop-punk feel of her aesthetic.
Who He Styles: Bebe Rexha
Wilfred Lenov, a stylist based in L.A., got his start in fashion as a visual merchandiser for American Apparel. He has since become a fashion editor at Cake magazine, with his work also featured in Nylon and Elle.
Bebe Rexha emerged from her behind-the-scenes songwriting career and into the spotlight as a performer at the 2016 VMAs in an Aaliyah-inspired look styled by Lenov. In an exclusive interview with Billboard, Bebe explained her connection to Aaliyah’s style. “She was sexy in a cool way. It was tomboy, girly, and it was her swag more than anything that was sexy, and I loved that about her.”
For Lenov, this means finding pieces that are laid-back-yet-sensual for Rexha, who is also a close friend. He pairs bold colors and flashy materials with minimal basics, like the Ashton Michael custom-made monochrome tangerine hoodie and hot-pants outfit for Bebe’s 2016 V Festival performance on Aug. 21.
Who He Styles: Dua Lipa
Lorenzo Posocco is a London-based stylist whose latest project is working with the up-and-coming U.K. pop singer Dua Lipa. The 21-year-old is set to release her 2017 debut studio album with Warner Bros. Records, aiming to cross over from her indie-pop roots to mainstream success. In her music video for latest single “Blow Your Mind (Mwah),” Lipa rocks a crystal stone GCDS-designed MWAH choker that you can purchase on her website for $45.
Posocco stays true to Lipa’s ’90s-inspired icons like Chloe Sevigny and Drew Barrymore with grungy fishnets and leather miniskirts, but also keeps her style contemporary with ornate pieces like the Alessandra Rich tangerine flower lace dress she wore to the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards in October.
Who She styles: Chloe X Halle
Zerina Akers is most known for her work with multiplatinum superstar Beyoncé as one of her personal stylists. Akers collaborates with the artist on her day-to-day street wear looks (as seen on Instagram) and on projects like visual album Lemonade as part of the creative team. The LA and New York-based stylist has also taken Beyonce’s protégé sister duo Chloe X Halle under her wing.
After exclusively premiering their EP Sugar Symphony with Parkwood Entertainment and Billboard in April, 18-year-old Chloe and 16-year-old Halle have been showcasing their cool and youthful fashion sense in music videos like “Drop” and red carpet appearances with the help of Akers. Their style is carefree, fresh, and experimental much like their sound. “I always like to use young, new talent, because I feel like we see so much of the same thing in fashion and on the red carpet,” Akers told Billboard about the duo’s 2016 BET Awards ensembles where, on the red carpet, they wore red accented Zaldy dresses, a look Halle complemented with distressed Levi jeans.