PHILLIP BLOCH Dishes with DEAR ANDI About Life As a Stylist—Former Model, Turned Actor, Commentator, Author, Philanthopist, and His Latest Venture, Online Shop Purveyor on OPENSKY.COM
I decided I wanted to be a fashion stylist when I was sixteen. At that time when people heard the word “stylist,” it was synonymous with hair, but celebrity fashion stylist Phillip Bloch was everywhere. He was one of the frontrunners in the industry, dressing the biggest names in Hollywood from Jennifer Lopez, Drew Barrymore, Halle Berry and even Michael Jackson. In a recently oversaturated world of stylists, Phillip Bloch has been the original (and authentic) insider in fashion.
When Open Sky told me that Phillip Bloch would soon be opening his own curated shop on their site, I couldn’t wait to learn more from one of my fashion idols. It’s perfect that he would share his expertise in fashion with his passion for philanthropy to bring you his handpicked collection of designer pieces—often at affordable prices—in one place for you to shop in.
Phillip chatted with me about this collection and everything from how he got his start in the business to just saying no to buying what the obvious trends are of the season.
Fashion divas beware: this is one of the most humble and honest personalities in fashion.
Liz: You’re considered one of the top experts in fashion, commenting on everything from the red carpet to the royal wedding. Can you tell me a little about your path to becoming one of the most successful, if not the first, celebrity stylists?
Phillip: I started modeling when I was a teen in NY and worked on John Galliano’s first show with Veronica Webb [who also has a profile on Open Sky], which led me to styling. I was always one of those models that could wear what I would want to wear. I’d come in and ask if I can put those pants with that shirt and they’d let me.
When I was leaving the business as a model, the editors and photographers said to me, “you should be a stylist.” I was looking for a job where I could travel, make good money and with exciting people. I lived in London for eight years and came back to NY, styling models and realized that it wasn’t really that exciting to me. I didn’t really like it, to tell you the truth. I worked with models that were whiners and complainers and—ugh, I thought, was I like this? So I thought if I’m going to dress people because I like the clothes, I want to do it with people who really do something for me.
People attribute me to being the industries “first stylist,” (I’m not THAT old!) but I was really the first that connected the showrooms in NY, LA and Europe.
In just the past few years, there have been so many stylists in this business that it’s become devalued like the Greek dollar. Stylists are often talked about, but it’s a very very very tough business. The business has become so big because of the exposure I got and Rachel [Zoe], and Brad [Goreski]—it’s just so exploited.
My advice to young people starting out in this business? “Be nice to everybody because these are the people you’re going to be in business with the rest of your life.”
L: I always say that the life of a stylist only appears to be glamorous. There’s so much behind the scenes that no one sees (the schlepping, the smoke and mirrors, the egos, etc.). What do you find to be the most challenging part of the job?
P: It’s a job with not a lot of thanks to it. I’m not saying any job is easier or harder than the other, but it’s always the joke on shoots, who’s going to have the bad day today? It’s always one of us—the hair, the makeup, the clothes—that gets picked on. One of us always has the hard day.
L: I, myself am a stylist in NY and while I’m a lot newer in the industry than you are, I find that to be so true. That’s something I definitely experience. I actually started my blog to share my experiences in styling.
P: It’s hard now, isn’t it? It’s very hard, even for me—not the actual work, but getting the job and getting paid for the clothes. Everyone thinks they’re entitled to free clothes.
L: I actually had someone ask me if I had a whole rack of clothes sitting in my office, like Rachel Zoe.
P: That’s the problem! I do my own work; I go on my own photoshoots and pulls [from designer’s showrooms].
L: I’m so impressed that you do that…and you manage to wear so many other hats in the industry—between being a designer, writer, actor, commentator and I know that you’re big on philanthropy. From one stylist to another (major) stylist how do you do it all and what are you most passionate about?
P: I don’t know how I do it all. I’m most passionate about my show right now, Cause Celeb. It combines everything I’ve ever done and learned—and everything that I’ve wanted to do. In my 20’s I was concerned with myself; I wanted to be a model…in my 30’s I was concerned with everything glamorous and fashion and making beautiful images…and in my 40’s I’ve taken what I’ve learned and am doing something with it more important for others.
I love the acting. There’s a line in the Notorious B.I.G. movie where Angela Bassett says, “My son told stories and people listened.” What a profound saying! I told stories as a model, as a stylist I told them through the clothes and as an actor you really get to be in character and tell a story.
L: With all of those hats you’ve taken on, now you’ve recently taken on the role as an online shopping guru on OpenSky. What can we expect to see on your expert-curated shop coming out this March?
P: When they came to me, I thought, wow this a really great idea—a way for people to be fashionable, have fun and do good by buying something that’s going to give back to the charities. I think every company and celebrity should be giving even just a percentage back to charity.
It also allows me to have my own collection as a testing ground—kind of like the appetizer of starting your own brand. What do people want from me? I get to use other vendors to see what people like.
What makes my shop different is that each month a portion of the proceeds from my shop goes to charity. The first thing I’m doing is working with Ivanka Trump, using a purse from one of her collections as part of my collection. She’s one of the celebrities I recently interviewed for my show Cause Celeb, so it’s perfect that we chose one of her purses as the first piece in my collection. A portion of the proceeds from that will go to her charity, Girl Up.
The thing I love about OpenSky is that they ask, what’s important to you. For me, it was important to keep my price points under $100. I wanted to start out with pieces that are transformational—you can wear them day into evening. There’s one purse that I’ll be featuring that has three purses in one for the day, evening and even the beach. I’m also featuring these camisoles that are great layering pieces or you can dress up with a skirt for the evening.
L: You don’t always see people in Hollywood talking about saving money when it comes to fashion. As a stylist, it’s important for me to save money for clients or even myself. What’s something that you think is worth the splurge on?
P: I stay away from the general advice because every person is different, every store is different, every item is different. You’re going to know in your life what you should spend more on. If you only make $1000/month, then you shouldn’t be spending $1000 on anything. I’m no Suze Orman, but I tend to think you have to use your own intuition and know what’s important for you [to spend your money on] and know your budget. I always say: do not spend a lot of money on something that you’re only going to wear a few times.
I tend to not go to the trends, like THE shoe or THE bag of the season. Cindy Crawford bought one of those burnt out velvet Gucci shirts years ago for like $1600 and I said, girl, bring that back! You’re going to wear it this week and it’s going to be everywhere soon to the point where you won’t be able to wear it for 10 years. I love designer pieces but don’t buy the piece that says the trend of the season.
My wardrobe has the affordable pieces from Express, H&M, J.Crew, Club Monaco with the Armani, Prada, Valentino—you’ve got to balance it. I spend money on good suits, leather jackets and sweaters…but you can even get those more affordable nowadays.
In general, I look for pieces that are transformational like a shirt that I can wear with a suit, on the weekends, or a million different places. If I’m going to spend the money, it’s going to be on something incredibly wearable and chic, something luxurious, or something that I’m going to live in like a black cashmere pant.
Of course if I’m going to spend the money on something, then I’ll save money by taking the subway over a cab that day!
L: I love that. You’ve got to balance fashion with your life.
P: Exactly! You can’t spoil yourself all of the time, but life is short—you’ve got enjoy yourself along the way.