An interview with top stylist Sarah Kinsumba
Every girl dreams of working in fashion, spending all day styling celebrities, working on photoshoots and promoting fabulous new brands. Let us introduce you to Sarah Kinsumba who specialises in Fashion Styling, Wardrobe Refinement and Communication & Marketing. Born and raised in Paris, a capital known for its chic and effortless style, Sarah was destined to work in this sort of industry.
Having assisted well-known French stylists and worked for several clients such as Suzuki, Fine Taste Magazine, C-Heads Magazine, Shoes Up Magazine, just to name a few, she is now based in Los Angeles hoping to bring the “French touch” into the US market.
She is currently the Fashion & Style Director of Bunker Hill Magazine, Los Angeles print magazine. We were lucky enough to be able to have a quick chat with this talented stylist when she had a few minutes to spare. Sarah talks about her career progress, current trends and her future plans.
First of all, what drew you into the world of Fashion?
My fashion career was totally unexpected because I have a master’s degree in Marketing & Communications. I’ve been passionate about fashion for a long time thanks to my mum. She was a true fashionista. Every item (clothes, accessories and shoes) in her closet was from Charles Jourdan, a well-known designer. She was a true addict!
After my degree, I left France to go to the US for 6 months. I wanted to take a break. Then I realised that I wanted to be a fashion stylist because I kept being asked to give fashion and make up advice to my friends there.
This idea kept growing and when I returned back to France, I had my very first photoshoot, one week after my arrival.
Yes, a lot of the stylists that I’ve assisted, including Kristina Gisors, Justine Allain & Sophie Aprile. They all work for fashion magazines in France and they taught me everything. I want to thank them for that.
Run us through a typical day for you?
There is no typical day. That’s why it’s exciting! As a stylist you work with a different team every day and on completely different projects, music videos, magazine editorials or private clients. Some days are “easy”, for instance when you prepare a magazine photoshoot, and some can be very stressful, especially when you are prepping a red carpet event. For my last red carpet, my assistant and I pulled at least 70 dresses and outfits from different showrooms. We ran around everywhere to find the perfect dress.
After witnessing so many changes in the industry over the years, where do you see fashion going?
Fashion in the past has been too serious. I see fashion becoming much more fun and ambitious, with new cuts, colours… It pushes people to express themselves even more and not be afraid of who they really are, taking risks without bothering about what other people think. I see fashion going in a multicultural direction too.
Every girl should have a black blazer to add a classy touch, a pair of print pants, some shorts and some loafers to be stylish and comfortable at the same time.
Regarding accessories, I would say a statement colourful necklace to add a pop of colour to a simple outfit. I’m really minimalistic regarding my style, but it’s all about details. Lastly, a collar with a choker or some cool prints.
What other areas of fashion do you need to understand and work with to make your job as a stylist work?
Photography, hair and make-up! I’m not only a stylist but a creative director too. So I decide what kind of hair or make up I want. I can decide what type of atmosphere I want too. The photographer and I often share ideas about the lights, the poses, angles… Just styling people is not enough for me. I need more than that, to challenge myself.
I don’t have a particular style icon, but I really love Olivia Palermo and Solange Knowles’ style. The way they mix prints and cuts is amazing and very classy. My favorite era in fashion is the 80s; silk shirts, wide high-waisted pants, strong shoulders, and pops of colour. I would love to go back to this era. It is very polished and chic.
Where is the best city in the world to shop and do you have a favourite one-stop shop?
The best city in the world to shop? I haven’t yet travelled to every city in the world unfortunately, but for now I would say Paris. Not because I’m from there, it’s the fact that we have lot of vintage boutiques and fashion stores (I exclude Zara, H&M etc.). You can find everything at every price bracket. In Paris you can find an amazing vintage jacket for $5!
Would you like to offer any advice to people wanting to go into fashion?
Do your homework, work hard, never give up and believe in your dream. It sounds cheesy but it’s true and it works. Assist stylists and don’t contact people on Facebook! If you want an internship, email addresses are here for that! Be nice to EVERYONE, the fashion world is very small.
Finally, what does the future hold for you – any exciting plans, developments?
For now I’m an in-house stylist and a visual merchandiser for a fashion company. The in-house stylist position means that I take care of styling the catalog, lookbooks and the website. But I’m still a freelance fashion stylist too, of course.
I definitely have some new ideas. I don’t want to share them at the moment because they are still in the “idea” section. I have to develop them, but follow my progress on my website.
Click here to find out more about this talented stylist.