Details

How did your career as a stylist begin?
I first started in San Francisco just after college working on fashion shows at the Macy’s in Union Square.  The  second one I did was for Donna Karan and I got to work with her daughter on styling it.  After a short stint there it became obvious to me that I needed to start a career in New York to really learn the industry and be in the center of it, so there I just hit the pavement, assisting several stylists and working on everything from editorial at Vanity Fair to test shoots with Terry Richardson to advertising for Celine.

How was working with Vanity Fair? What about Terry Richardson & Celine?
Everything was a new and exciting experience for me at the time and being able to work with some of the best in the world was humbling, but also made me realize a big part of being talented just comes from the confidence to just do it.  Vanity Fair has an amazing staff of smart people and was a great experience every time.  Terry Richardson pretty much lives up to his image.  The Celine shoot was shot by Patrick Demarchelier and I spent most of the time holding the purse to the side from off camera and trying to figure out what Demarchelier was saying in his muttering thick accent.

Do you have a most memorable styling job?
Well, I have to say the job is never run-of-the-mill, so there are many to remember.  Though most of the more scandalous and funny ones are from my assisting days working with celebrities, traveling around the world, and meeting many off-the-wall “fashion” characters.  But, probably my most memorable job as a stylist has been a trip to Thailand that I took last year for a European store called C&A that is run by a Chinese company and had a Taiwanese ad agency.  Every part of it was a learning experience, since we were working with many local Thailand-based talent.  The people were lovely and the experience was wonderful, but not without its many hilarious moments lacking correct translation when talking about fashion and creativity.

Do you have any gripes about photographers on set? Not specific people but just things that photographers may do that make stylists crazy? And on the other hand, are there things that some photographers do that you find really helpful? 
Well, it is always a joy (a hint of sarcasm) when the photographer wants to change or more often “add to” the whole direction of a look once we get to a location or start shooting…i.e. it would look really great to have a huge floppy hat here, did you happen to bring one?

Mostly, what works with photographers is a chemistry and symbiotic relationship

Mostly, what works with photographers is a chemistry and symbiotic relationship that is hard to describe when it works, because yes most of it is good communication, but also it is an ability to work off of each other’s ideas.  It’s nice when a photographer trusts you enough to show you inspiration images, then choose great locations and set ups, then just lets me do my thing with the clothing to fit the situation.

What is your personal style?
I am a simple girl.  I like clean lines and strong (sometimes even masculine) details.  But, overall I like a little edginess that makes an everyday comfortable outfit seem effortlessly chic.

You lived in New York and LA for some time, do you think this was important to establishing your career?
Absolutely.  It helped me to develop a heightened aesthetic and an uncompromising eye.  Not to mention, those places are where the work is.  Other US cities will never have the quantity of work that New York (and even LA) provide.  There is an entire industry and pools of quality talent in all the fields needed to participate.  A good shoot depends on high quality talent from not only the photography, but also from the hair, makeup, styling, production, models, and all of the assistants.  Even more importantly, all of these talented people that I have gotten to know along the way are some of my greatest friends.  We have spent many hours together away from our families and shared a lot of laughs and also….a lot of drinks.

When we first met, we talked a bit about agents. You have decided not to have an agent for the time being, could you discuss that?
For me, at least for the time being, it just is the right thing.  That could always change again.  I used to have an agent and depending on what you want from your career at each point in time, you have to weigh all the odds, as well as the pros and cons of what an agent brings to the picture.  I am also working now as an interior designer in Austin, so now I like to pick and choose my projects as a stylist and have enough colleagues that hire me regularly, so I really don’t have the need for one.

A GOOD SHOOT DEPENDS ON HIGH QUALITY TALENT FROM NOT ONLY THE PHOTOGRAPHY, BUT ALSO FROM THE HAIR, MAKEUP, STYLING, PRODUCTION, MODELS, AND ALL OF THE ASSISTANTS.

I know that you travel a lot for work; how many assignments end up being out of state? Where do they usually take place?
Most of my styling projects are in Los Angeles.  I’ll go to New York very rarely nowadays.  I used to travel to Dallas quite a bit, but have not been doing that for about a year and half.  I’ve just got a crew and network of people in LA that I work with and for, as well as a place to stay when I’m there, so that makes a job where you are juggling a lot just a little easier.

Where do you draw inspiration from, when you’re styling, and shopping, and working?
Everywhere!  I mean sometimes it’s magazines, blogs, or the runway, but often times I get ideas just from looking around me either at the cute girl who just passed me on the sidewalk or the pillows that I see on someone’s couch.

Any specific blogs you are loving?
I look at StyleLikeU, Emmas Designblogg, and The Brick House a lot, but often I really just find things through random searches – I am kind of wierdo when it comes to the online research.

What’s next? Any exciting projects coming up in 2012?
I’ve had a few great clients that book me every season, so those are always fun, because having that comfort to really push the envelope and be myself is great.  I’m looking forward to working with Dakine in a couple of weeks and Lee Jeans toward the end of the year.

Who are your repeat clients? Can you talk about your project with Lee Jeans? Did the photographer hire your or did Lee put together the team? 
Lee Jeans, Dakine, Galleria Malls, and I work with the photographer Colette De Barros all the time, so in that way she is very much a repeat client.  With Lee, I was initially brought on 3 years ago by Colette to shoot for them and have been working with them ever since, though now they ask for me directly even when they use other photographers.

What has been your best career decision?
Wow, who knows….probably the decision to stop caring when I got turned down or didn’t get a job.

How do you stay motivated?
Well, the end product or the idea of what the end product could be is what motivates me and the idea of making something visually stimulating propels me.

What is your favorite thing about styling in Texas?
I like living MY life and not trying to live to keep up with anyone else’s.

Do you have a mentor in the field?
I worked for Jennifer Hitzges for over a year full time in New York and from her I learned how to run “me” as a business.  I was also very encouraged by Sciascia Gambaccini, for whom I also worked.

Do you have a dream assignment?
A regular, seasonal, huge advertising campaign for a brand like J.Crew or Levi’s that wants to shoot in Austin every time!  Maybe if I say it, it will happen?

Favorite bbq?
Franklin BBQ

Favorite breakfast taco?
Taco Deli

Favorite libation?
Lately its been anything with strong ginger OR I love a martini!

Do you collect anything?
I am an avid purger!  But, I very much like glass and crystal glasses.

Any hobbies outside styling?
Hiking, walks with my dog, and flea markets/estate sales.

Twitter - Facebook - Google+

One Response to “Sara Leete”

  1. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest
    authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my subscribers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an
    email.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>