“The more uncomfortable you feel in an outfit, the more you are forced to build confidence,” says Phil on how to raise your sartorial self-esteem New York style. “Whenever you’re doubting yourself, go crazier with your look and do something unexpected.”
Creating the unexpected requires talent, eye, and what can only be called style alchemy.
While most stylists rely on pull letters to get the hottest labels and most on-trend statement pieces to make editorial fashion, Phil is a master of DIY creativity.
Fresh off shooting editorial with Rose McGowen, Phil has worked with Nelly Furtado, Amanda Lepore, and Susanne Bartsch. His work can be found in Paper, NYLON, Vogue Italia, as well as Posture (print) where he was a founding fashion editor. This stylist’s eye for the offbeat has helped him carve a niche in the New York fashion scene.
“I needed tiger striped shoes for a shoot, so I bought some tiger striped tape and made these,” says the stylist, whose ability to improvise is an asset in an industry where anything can happen, and usually does. In a world ruled by logo mania and influencer endorsements, Phil’s DIY attitude is not only refreshing; it sets him apart from the crowd.
Producer Sylvia Fargo argues that today, the stylists that succeed are those who work dynamically with fashion designers. In an article for the Business of Fashion, Fargo says,”Today, I think a stylist is more of a creative collaborator with a designer. They have such integral roles in creating looks. Panos Yiapanis‘ role as a stylist [at Givenchy] was almost like a designer in its own right. He is so confident and knows what he wants.”
Phil’s relationship with indie New York labels like Chromat, Bond Hardware, I Still Love You NYC, Músed, and Whatever 21 is what attracted Nelly Furtado as a client. “She wanted to wear an emerging brand … I knew exactly what to put her in. For our first meeting, I brought the outfit she ended up wearing, and one other look as a backup. She was expecting racks and racks of clothing, but ended up loving what I’d picked.” Since then, the two have worked together on several projects, developing the kind of personal relationship that makes for dynamic fashion.
Three styling tips essential to creating a New York look
Says Phil, “a great coat is very New York and it’s essential. A great shoe: New Yorkers go crazy for shoes. Accessories like a hat, scarf, belt, an earring—any sort of embellishment” are essential to give an outfit personality. “You can’t go wrong with good eyewear.” Hero sunglasses are always a fabulous investment.
“Go simple and classic with an aviator or cat-eye, or super embellished and extreme,” says Phil. “Sunglasses are accessories that can go either way. They’re the ideal accessory if you want to go incognito or can totally elevate your look.”
How to organize your closet like a New Yorker
Although the city boasts spectacular architecture, New York’s real estate is infamous for scant closet space. Phil keeps the goods in a room-turned-closet complete with three clothing racks, two shoe racks, a sunglasses station, and jewelry display. Dress forms are layered with showcase pieces.
Inspiration is everywhere and drawn from everything. Bright lighting is essential, as is impeccable organization—even if it seems like organized chaos to the untrained eye.
The lowdown on DIY fashion
The beauty of DIY is that everything becomes personal. “The whole DIY deconstructed, reconstructed fashion, or recycled trend is happening more and more in streetwear within New York,” says Phil. “New York designers are now favoring the DIY aesthetic that’s DIY. There’s some work there that is genuinely done and not mass-produced.”
“I like to find a personal touch to bring to my work that, which is when I know I’m at my best.”
Thrift for wares at premium vintage like Beacon’s Closet, after finding international fashion inspiration from Dover Street Market, where Phil suggests you “spend a few hours and shop floor by floor. You can find unique brands there. It’s the only place in New York to get your hands on certain things.”
To achieve Phil’s “whimsical with an edge aesthetic,” the stylist suggests “shopping with intuition to look for pieces that provoke emotion.” Be prepared to enter the zone where you teeter on the edge of comfort to elevate your style, and go beyond trends.