Monday, January 14, 2008
Meet Celebrity Fashion Stylist Yaniece Piper Thomas
A few weeks ago, I attended a photo shoot with America’s favorite former top model and talk show host, Tyra Banks (for my regular 9 to 5 job). She was extremely down-to earth and friendly just like you’d expect her to be. Not only was she approachable and genuine, her glam squad was too; especially her wardrobe stylist, Yaniece Piper Thomas.
Immediately, I thought that Yaniece would be a perfect person to interview for BGG! Dressed in a funky pink snood cap, cute jacket and denim jeans, the former model-turned celebrity fashion stylist politely and excitedly accepted my interview offer.
An L.A native, who studied merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and once toured the world as a model, Yaniece now works in New York City as Tyra’s personal fashion stylist on her popular TV talk show, America’s Next Top Model , as well as for special events and appearances.
Check out my Q&A with the style guru:
BGG: How long have you been a fashion stylist?
Yaniece: I have been styling for about 5 years. I modeled for about 10 years and then started a clothing line called Liya Cynamone with a business partner. The line was sold to about 100 boutiques across the country and a couple of specialty stores which included Saks and Henri Bendels.
BGG:I know that you were a model before you became a fashion stylist, do you think that your experience as a model helps you in your career as a stylist?
Yaniece: I believe my experience as a modeling and designer has helped me tremendously with styling. Modeling allowed me to see the world, meet all types of people and experience different cultures. Not knowing at the time, I was making future business contacts. Designing helped me learn the structure of garments, learn about textiles and also taught me business skills.
BGG: Describe your personal style.
Yaniece: My personal style is vintage chic...I'm a little funky... I love flowy tops and a cute dresses. I'm 5' 10" but you rarely catch me without high heels. I guess it’s the LA in me.
BGG: Briefly tell me about a typical day as a celebrity/wardrobe stylist.
Yaniece: There isn't a typical day in celebrity styling. But a normal show day is pretty mellow. Morning phone calls to showrooms and designers. Setting up looks for the day and dressing my client for the show. I usually stay on set making sure my client looks perfect.
But some days are crazy...we can start as early as 3 or 4 am to go to publicity shoots then straight to the talk show, then to a special event. My day could end around 12 am. You have to keep in mind my one booking never starts on the day of the event. Typically one shoot takes two maybe even three days to prep then the day of the shoot and a wrap day. When I say wrap day I mean returning clothing and taking care of the budget.
BGG: I know the fashion industry is a tough business to break into, what was your big break?
Yaniece: My big break was working as an assistant with a stylist who happened to work for Tyra Banks and pretty much worked hard and ended up with her job. It's all about hard work and relationships.
BGG: As Tyra Banks' stylist, is there anything that she absolutely won't wear?
Yaniece: Tyra likes her clothing to accentuate her curves..she never wears shiny clothing.
BGG: What other celebrities have you worked with?
Yaniece: I've worked with a few other celebrities - Iman, Carly Wilson, Blu Cantrell, Eric Bennett and a couple of others.
BGG: Working with celebrities can be grueling because of their demanding schedules, what do you do for fun and relaxation?
Yaniece: When I'm not working I love to spend time with my daughter and find out what's going on in her world. She's a teenager so I get on her nerves. But when she's tired of me, I love to veg out, go to spas, hang out and have a few cocktails...you know!!!
BGG: I know that you’re from Los Angeles, how is the fashion here in New York City different from the City of Angels, if at all?
Yaniece: In my eyes, the only difference between LA and NY is - Cali is more laid back...we love flip flops 24/7...even when it rains!
BGG: Who are some of your favorite designers? Why?
Yaniece: I really don’t have a favorite designer. Unfortunately, I'm not a loyal customer. If I like It I buy or pull it.
BGG: If you could pick 3 fashion must-haves that every BG should own, what would they be?
Yaniece: Three fashion must-haves that every BG should own are a pair of big gold earrings, a cute black dress and sexy lingerie.
Gold hoops available at Macy's www.macys.com for $360 (I bought this same pair 2 years ago for less than half of that price so check them out when they go on sale)
Cute black Nicole Miller dress available at Nordstrom for $385. Again, you can find a cute black dress almost anywhere and at various prices.
Sexy embroidered babydoll nightie from Victoria's Secret www.victoriassecret.com for $26.99
BGG: What’s a great fashion tip that you can share with BGG readers?
Yaniece: My fashion tip is always dress to impress. Even If you're going to the grocery store put on a cute sweat suit. You never know who you'll see. First impressions are lasting impressions.
BGG: What advice would you give to other BGs who’d like to break into the business of celebrity/fashion styling?
Yaniece: The only advice I can give to someone who wants to be in this industry is to work hard and make contacts. And if you're already doing that keep it up your time will come.
Click here to see Yaniece on The Tyra Banks Show!