CHANGE UNIVERSE: Magazine Jewels
New York | PeopleDecember 11, 2008

Wardrobe Guru

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The day I met Stacey Mayesh, I was crossing Madison Avenue and 60th street with a friend.  It was very cold and I was in a hurry to get indoors and relax over a warm vegetable soup at Fred's, the restaurant at Barneys.

Suddenly there she was, not too tall, bumping into my friend. I could barely see her since she was talking on her mobile phone, practically hidden under multiple shopping and garment bags.

Without any interest in the clumsy encounter, I ran away from the wind and the crowd.  As I reached the entrance of Barneys, I heard my name being called from afar "Joelle! Come back, you must meet Stacey!" Impatiently, I went back… Our friend in common apparently wasn’t as cold as I was and hadn’t followed me inside for the much deserved soup break.

Stacey was obviously busy and also in a rush.  My friend was insistent on making this introduction, so I shook what was available of Stacey's hand, smiled and gave her my card (easier to reach for mine than hers), and the three of us finally proceeded to our respective destinations.

On the short walk back to Barneys, My friend said, "Joelle, you had to meet Stacey. She's one of the world's top fashion stylists,  you know!   Stacey has worked with celebrities like Susan Sarandon,Natasha Richardson,  Jessica AlbaCameron DiazSelma BlairQueen Latifah and Cynthia Nixon.  They’ve all benefited from her keen and discerning eye.”

"Really?" I say, already smiling at the waiter from Mumbai at the restaurant counter who doesn't need to ask me at all if I want my daily order,  ‘the soup of the day.’  "I am not kidding Joelle, this woman would be a great feature profile for Joelle Lifestyle!"

The soup looks amazing—small multicolored vegetables in a light broth liven my spirit while the waiter smiles back asking "Good?" I have finally warmed up and am in  much better mental condition to hear more about this fashion consultant my friend is so enthusiastic about.

I learn she has contributed to top tier magazines around the globe, including In StyleTeen VogueluckyGlamourJaneReal Simple and international editions of Elle. Most recently she was the Senior Fashion Editor at Marie Claire and has appeared in several TV shows such as  'Full Frontal Fashion'  as a fashion expert and is working on her first TV project, a new BRAVO TV reality series starring Susie Essman of  'Curb Your Enthusiasm Fame.'

“Ok, ok, I say to my friend, I got it. I will contact this New York stylist, personal shopper and self described ‘secret weapon, I promise. Can we speak about something else now?”

A few days later, I have a new email on my Mac screen.  “...I met you the other day on Madison Avenue with Ana,  I've been looking at your website and I think it's great.  I really liked theMorocco newsletter.  I was interested to read that you are a Sephardi Jew.  I'm Jewish too, and part Sephardi.  I guess that's where I get my nomadic tendencies and love of travel as well! - I wanted to give you my contact info, which is below. Perhaps we can do something together?

You can check out my website to read about me and I'm also attaching a story from Vogue from the spring"

Vogue? Vogue wrote about Stacey? This is ridiculous, I told Ana. I want to write this profile. How did I not know about this woman in New York before? I quickly answered her email and  set up an appointment at her Tribeca apartment.

The fresh atmosphere of this bright loft designed by architect Thomas Juul Hansen (who designed several spaces for restaurateur Jean Georges Vongrichten) is surrounded by windows that allow the shades to create beautiful patterns on the sleek furniture… inviting anyone to feel comfortable and at peace.

While I inspect the flowing energy, Stacey comes from another room with her hands full of her favorite necklaces, dresses, sandals and vests. She asks me which she should try on first.  I realize she's so used to "producing" other people's looks that she doesn't understand why I answer in a calm tone: " none". I want to know more about the history behind her own accessories and objects retrouvesand create her story from those.

The Buddha necklace was given to her on her honeymoon in Thailand as a wedding gift from a Thai friend.  It was something that was in his family for a long time.  The ivory beads were given to her by her grandmother, who bought them in Asia in the 70s. "I feel serene and protected when I wear this."

The Cartier watch belongs to her father - "The face is on long-term loan from my Dad!!  I put a new white patent leather band on it to make it look less traditional and a bit more unexpected."

The bright multi-colored faceted stone necklace was made by her friend Keri who has been collecting new and vintage beads for 20 years.  She makes everything custom- Stacey explains with enthusiasm, without noticing that while she speaks I am capturing a few portraits of her wearing a simple blue top she told me she wanted to take off before the photo shoot began.

"You choose your beads and Keri strings it together for you.  When I made this necklace, I was pregnant with my daughter but hadn’t told anybody yet.  Keri is a bit clairvoyant and she knew I was pregnant!  It was the first time I had met her!

Stacey’s favorite designers tend to be LanvinYSLStella McCartneyAlexander McQueenChloeBalenciaga and Rick Owens. She tells me that jeans are her everyday uniform so she's always on the hunt for amazing denim.   At the moment her favorite jeans are by Earnest Sewn and Gold Sign. "I like jeans because they don’t feel so precious.  I also love to mix in personal touches from unknown indie designers (I love to discover them!) and from things that are close to my heart because they belonged to someone I love or because I found them on a special vacation."

About a photo of Picasso on the wall: "This is one of my most prized possessions.  It’s a Robert Capa photo of Picasso and one of his many lovers taken in the South of France.  I think it’s so sexy and romantic.  It makes me happy to look at it."

I have asked Stacey to tell me about the profile of her clients. "Mostly women from New York,  but many also come to visit from other places in the US and Internationally."  I usually end up working with most of their boyfriends and husbands as well. Apparently I hear, there are three types of ladies:

The first is the woman who really needs help!  She is smart and sophisticated in all areas of her life, but she doesn’t understand style and fashion and she hates to shop.  She wants to look great and feel confident when she enters a room, but she doesn’t know how to do it on her own. According to Stacey, I think these are the women whose lives she really changes the most.  They call her afterwards crying because they feel so good and see such a huge difference. In this category her clients range from doctors to fashion executives to film and theater producers to full time moms.

The second type is the woman who has taste and style but doesn’t have time to shop. These are usually career women with very busy lifestyles. They are often either high profile New Yorkers or celebrities and they are leading more public lives than the average person.  They feel a lot of pressure to look great and “get it right” because they are being photographed often or need to project a certain look professionally. They also tend to travel a lot and need clothing that travels easily and travels well. In this category her clients range from art world personalities to financial types to philanthropists.

The third type, is the woman one who just wants to take it up a notch and exude a more stylishly confident look. "Most of my clients fall into this category."  They already have taste and style but want to look even better than they already do and they want that special stylist’s touch that makes them look as good as celebrities!  Many of them already own great pieces but they don’t necessarily have the confidence to mix it up in an eclectic and interesting way. They’re afraid of getting it wrong, so they play it safe instead. I show them how to mix like a pro and I make sure it looks like they did it on their own!!  Most of Stacey’s clients in this category are chic urban moms.

If you find yourself in one of these three categories and think you'd need some extra help, this is how Stacey would work with you:  She starts with a Closet Consultation that usually takes about three hours, depending on the size of your wardrobe.   She listens to the stories behind your clothes and makes a smart selection of what should stay, or be courageously let go of.  She shows you how to creatively mix and match what you have. Through this process, Stacey will make an assessment of your body, budget, lifestyle, wardrobe problems and needs, resulting in a personalized shopping plan." I tell my clients to relax, enjoy and just TRUST ME!"

The shopping, depending on clients’ availability, takes place with them, without them or both."  I usually do seasonal wardrobes, so I’m working with my clients twice a year, for fall/winter and for spring/summer." Good to know that Stacey works with any type of budget, so that one can shop in high design boutiques or at more moderate price points. She also told me she often gets great discounts she likes to share with her clients.

"We can buy a full wardrobe if the client wants to be extravagant or, if they’re on more of a strict budget, perhaps we only buy just the perfect 10 items that really upgrade the wardrobe, pull it all together and create maximum versatility"  This ‘shopping with strategy’ not just ‘randomly’, makes it easy for both client and shopper to figure out  what the 'smart purchases' are.

Basically, it’s all about taking a practical approach and buying the fewest number of items that create the maximum level of impact.  So in the end, you end up with fewer items in your closet, but many more outfit combinations…because she only buy things that work with everything else in the wardrobe.  "When you shop in a smart way, you actually don’t need that much.  My mantra is 'less is more!' ", Stacey concludes while picking up a Look Book.

"Look book?",  I ask, "You're kidding!"

"Yes Joelle, do not laugh. For the clients who really want to take things to the ultimate level, I create personalized look books for them for the season.  I style hundreds of outfit combinations, fully accessorized from head to toe, using items that they already own mixed with new purchases."

"For one client, I created a book for every area of her life where she needed help. I did 8 different books: work casual, work dressier, evening out, black tie, casual Hamptons weekend, day to night looks, etc.  If the client has a more limited budget, I can do one book that has the top 30 go-to outfits.”

"The books are like a manual or kit…so my clients open their books in the morning and decide what to wear.  The books are also a great tool for packing for trips because you just choose your outfits and put them in the suitcase and you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything because it’s all in the photos!  My clients get addicted to their books and call them their 'bible’.”

"The books really put the “soul” into the new clothing because I style each new item in so many new ways that my clients wouldn’t have thought of on their own.  It becomes very instructional and after several seasons, they don’t need the books anymore because they understand the 'Mayesh Sensibility.'"

Mayesh Sensibility...I pause for a while wearing one of Stacey's necklaces and looking at my leopard print boots.   I remember vaguely, like in a cloud, a picture of my daughter when she was three striking a pose while wearing her fake leopard coat and matching hat, standing -- bareley standing -- on complicated suede Cowboy boots...

Where was her Look Book?

Joelle's Tips:

The Fashion Stylist: Stacey Mayesh Price per hour of consultation: US$375. She's now offering US$250 due to recession times. For a consultation contact: + 1 917 859-8240

The restaurant: Fred's, Barneys,  660 Madison Ave., 9th fl, New York - nr. 61st St.  / + 1 212-833-2200

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