Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.
Zulvanny dropped into the Malaysian scene with her eclectic, yet elegant personal style, exuding all the confidence of someone who knows exactly how she wants to be seen. A veritable millennial Patricia Field, her humble demeanour and determination will see her far in this ever-changing industry. So of course, we wanted to pick her brain not just for style tips but career lessons as well. Read on for our chat.
Fill in the blanks: I am a ______ and a ______.
"I am a stylist and a go-getter."
What made you choose this career path?
"To be honest, this is not what I originally planned to pursue. I was doing medicine when I decided to take a break and try my hand at fashion styling. I think the 'eye' for styling came naturally to me, but back then it wasn’t something that I thought I could make a living from; it was more like a hobby.
While I was studying, I watched a ton of live concert videos of my favourite artists on YouTube and that got me interested in the way they chose to dress, which affects their overall image and the impact of their performances. I did more research and found that their individual styles were created by a professional stylist. From then on, I knew that I wanted to be one, too."
Share with us a regular day in your life as a fashion stylist.
"Every day is different. I generally start my days checking and replying emails before heading out for meetings, loans and returns, fittings, sourcing items or attending events — the list goes on.
There are times when I have to travel to four to six places in a day, including errands for pending jobs, which means a lot of downtime in the car. But it’s still busy because I have to always keep things moving. I could also be on set shooting for campaigns, music videos, TV shows, etc. These typically take all day, and music videos generally need me to be on set two to three days at a time."
Tell us a little more about the fashion landscape in Malaysia.
"I really do think it's growing, especially when it comes to the awareness of needing fashion stylists. More and more people are realising the importance of having a stylist to create a unique brand and image that helps them stand out. It’s also, in part, thanks to social media as people are more conscious of how they look and how they portray themselves.
I have also noticed that there is a growing number of up and coming stylists, which makes me pretty happy because they are more experimental, which leads to more ideas and new interpretations of style. All good things to keep the fashion scene here constantly on the up and up."
What makes a great stylist?
"It’s really subjective. Every stylist has their own style, but you have to have the eye for it because each job and client is different. You always have to consider the client’s personality, personal style, the image they want to project, and more.
I truly believe that style is an extension of who you are and it’s important that we dress to bring out the best in ourselves, but never to change who we are; I think the same way when I dress clients. I also place value in comfort, whether it is physical or emotional — you are only going to look as good as you feel. But the most important thing is being a team player and being able to work according to a brief plays a big part in building a great stylist. "
Who are your idols/mentors/inspirations?
"I learned a lot from my mentor, Haida Yusof. I’m forever thankful for all the lessons I came to learn during my time assisting her. She’s always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and go out there to take every opportunity possible to further my career."
How do you define a job well done?
"It’s a combination of being able to meet the brief, while also ensuring that my client feels good about themselves and are comfortable in the options I provide them."
What is your favourite job to date and why?
"So hard to choose — every job comes with its own good memories!"
Share with us five essentials in your Clozette.
"Black tailored pants, classic sunglasses, classic black turtleneck top, a good pair of denim pants, and dainty jewellery."
Give our readers with similar aspirations some tips, tricks, or advice.
"Be determined, diligent, and assist. Having the passion for styling can only take you so far. Most people don’t see the hard work that happens behind the scenes, so if you really want to get into this as a profession, experience is important.
Assist an established stylist if you can and be sure to be proactive while you’re on the job to make sure you learn how the industry works as a whole, as well as improve your styling skills. Also, say yes to every opportunity as long as you can commit to it. The competition is stiff, so bring your A-game all day, every day."