Behind the flashing camera lights and the OOTDs-to-cop from your favourite celebs are their stylists who curate their envy-worthy ensembles. And with the spotlight often away from them, we can't help but wonder who they are beyond being one of the people supporting a star.
So for the first instalment of our Artists Behind Artists series, we talked to celebrity stylist Aisa Ipac to know more about her inspirations, passions, and how she got to where she is in the industry now.
So how exactly did it start for Aisa? Apparently, it goes all the way back to her childhood. "Since I was a little girl, I've always been fond of dressing up," Aisa shared. "My family and friends would often tease me because I always dress differently. For them it looked weird or out of place, but for me I looked unique and I loved it. I loved going to Greenhills (a popular bargain mall in the Philippines) with my parents because it was like a candy store for me fashion-wise. My biggest fashion inspirations are Jean Patchett, Twiggy, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Kirsten Dunst."
Taking a leap of faith
When asked about how she started her journey, Aisa shared, "I've always loved dressing up. Even at work, I would always dress to impress. Then I started taking photos of my daily outfits and shared them, along with shopping tips, on my online-personal-diary-turned-blog.
I joined international fashion communities like Chictopia and Lookbook, which inspired me more. Then I started getting compliments online and realised after years of being employed that I want to do something I have real passion for and earn money while I'm at it."
She added, "I had a few 9-5 jobs before I finally decided to quit, enroll in a fashion school, build connections, create my portfolio and venture into the world of styling. At the ripe age of 25 (wish I would have done it sooner), I took the plunge and never looked back.
After quitting my job, I enrolled in Fashion Institute of the Philippines for a crash course in Fashion Styling. It was a 2-month certificate course facilitated by my favorite designer, John Herrera. We created mood boards according to assigned themes. We went thrift shopping; we learned about different body types and how to best style them, and we also conceptualised our own photoshoots.
I think enrolling in fashion school was one of the best decisions I made."
On challenges and struggles
No matter how one might find excitement in things one enjoys doing, hurdles along the way are inevitable. Aisa also opened up about her personal struggles in following her passion as a stylist.
"My blog and social media definitely played a huge role in my success as a stylist because through them I was able to meet a lot of clients and collaborators. My pages also served as my online portfolio," Aisa said, adding, "I guess the biggest challenge involving this job, aside from stability, are the different clients and personas you get to work with. Of course each person is different — their expectations, their style, their preferences, and their attitudes. A stylist should always be prepared to face different characters and different scenarios. There are clients who are easy to please while some are extremely choosy. I've learned to be extra patient, extra resourceful and extra creative because of this job. [At the end of it all, I'd say it's] worth it. "
When asked about the most common misconception about being a fashion stylist, Aisa gave an honest straight-from-the-heart response that truly encapsulates the truths about following this career path.
"[Most people think] that it's a glamorous job," she began. "It's not. It's so different behind the scenes. For the love of beautiful clothes and satisfied clients, you do everything and go anywhere to get them. You have to be prepared 24/7 and you must be willing to go from north to south just to source clothes. You should be okay with carrying ten bags full of clothes inside the mall. Or work even when you're sick (but seriously, don't) or there's a typhoon. You should be willing to tie shoelaces for other people, must learn how to repair clothes during emergencies, and even act as clients' personal assistant sometimes. You should be willing to shell out money (that's why I kept a full-time homebased job when I was starting to fund my purchases) so you could stock up on clothes and shoes and accessories."
"There's so much more behind this job, I tell you," she emphasised. "The dedication and hard work? It's insane! I learned it on my own without anyone helping me. I had to find my own contacts. I had to build connections on my own. I guess that's why despite all the hardships, it is all worth it for me. "
The secrets of the trade
When asked about her own professional practices, Aisa said, "Fashion is fast-changing, so as a stylist, you must know what's hot and what's now passé. Research on upcoming trends and start them. Be a trailblazer. You always need to know what's happening not only for you but also for your clients. That way they would trust you more.
I think it's also important to note that one should never translate their personal styles on their clients. Maybe inject a little but not entirely. It's important to experiment and create different looks for different people. Don't forget to consider their personal styles, too. That's why research is super important."
Staples, essentials, and what's next for Aisa Ipac
"[My staples are] a white button-down shirt, light-wash denim jeans, high-waisted denim shorts, a denim jacket, a black sweater, a black dress, and white sneakers. As for my makeup and skincare essentials, I can't live without my L'Oreal True Match Concealer (I have horrendous undereye circles), L'Oreal Pro-Matte Powder, Nature Republic Gel Tint, Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Skin, The Body Shop Drops of Light serum, and Biore UV Perfect Bright Milk," she shared.
With all the things going on for her, we can't help but ask what more can we expect from her exciting and busy life. She enthusiastically shared, "Hopefully more styling projects and more travels. I also recently launched Taipei Kita, my new food business, and then I'm launching another business online. Hope you could support me!"
We sure will, Aisa!
Find out more about Aisa's fashion ventures here.