Gentlemen's Corner: Nicki Minaj's Stylist Jerod McClairn Talks Dressing the Barb
It's no secret that Nicki Minaj has transformed her look in a major way this year. She's stepped away from her wild styles and ridiculous 'fits into an image that "highlights that she is a woman, a very attractive woman with a great body," her new stylist Jerod McClairn says.
Since joining her glam squad in November, McClairn–who has also lent his sartorial know-how to Tracy McGrady, Penny Hardaway and Brandon Jennings–has become the visionary behind creating the Queen Barbie's current look. He credits the 17 years in the entertainment industry as his preparation for his first foray into switching up a client's image.
Vixen caught up with the stylist-slash-fashion designer as he talks about working with the new face of Myx Fusion, gives tips on how to find the perfect stylist and what celebrities he would love to style. -- Sharifa Daniels
VIBE Vixen: How has it been working with Nicki Minaj?
Jerod McClairn: Working with Nicki has been really good. We're just trying to expand upon her current style and have it evolve and mature but also have it be honest to who she really is at this time.
We've had so much positive feedback. Her image definitely highlights that she is a woman, a very attractive woman, with a great body.
How did the collaboration actually come about?
Nicki and her previous stylist had parted ways somehow and it was unexpected. I was available and it all went from there.
Did you think it was a lot to take on?
Yeah. I was like, 'I don't understand what they're looking for. My strong suit isn't really her creative direction for her image, so I wasn't sure how it was going to pan out. My agent just encouraged me to do what I do and do what you feel is right. That's what I did and it was well received.
Where do you get your inspiration from to dress her?
As a stylist, when you're dressing a person, you're really dressing that person's personality. Of course dressing Nicki Minaj—the artist—is different from dressing Nicki Minaj for American Idol because it's two completely different genres and aspects of her career. I use fashion as a tool to do that and I keep in mind the current trends, but it pretty much comes from her.
Do you style her mostly for her videos or public appearances?
I do most of her public stuff. Sometimes, if I'm prepping her job already, she'll call me with certain request that'll be just for her regular every day stuff, but I would say, yeah, I do everything.
Dope. What's the favorite look you've done for Nicki thus far?
The color block [Hervé] Léger dress [paired with] Christian Louboutin's Black/White Watersnake Daf Mary Janes. It's the epitome of a collaboration between the two of us. It's a real honest statement as to who she is and where she is right now as an artist.
I"m sure you two disagree on what she'll wear.
I'm a professional so I'm accustom to working with celebrities. Our job as professionals is to know how to maneuver through. At the end of the day, as long as she's getting what she needs, you're not going to have a problem out of her.
VV: Are you big on giving new designers a chance to show their work and have major celebrities wearing it?
JM: It's important to stay up on the new designers because you always want your client to be cutting edge, trendsetting and ahead of the times. So you have to keep your ears and eyes on the streets.
Outside of Nicki, what do you do?
In addition to styling Nicki, I do a small collection of custom tailored menswear that consist of everything from suits to golf pants and golf shorts. It's a high-end line of classic menswear with a European sensibility. It's unique in itself, high quality fabrics, good stitching and attention to detail, but it definitely does have a fashion edge also.
Is that how you want your all clients to look–high-end and classy?
That's my point of view for my line, but that's not how I necessarily want every client to look. Being a stylist is about being a visionary. You have to have a vision for each and every client and that vision should be unique and specific to those specific individual. There are a lot of shoppers out there and people fail to realize that fashion is a tool. You have to use it to create something. There are a lot of shoppers and not visionaries out there right now.
What are the key things someone should look for when looking for a stylist?
They should have a website, a portfolio, some tangible source that you can go to and review their body of work. You should be able to see the caliber of the artist from their body of work. Every stylist won't be a good fit for every client because different clients have different needs and different stylists have different strengths.
You're familiar with dressing athletes, so which ones are currently nailing their looks?
Kobe Bryant is getting it right. Number one, he's not trying to hard so it's coming off more effortlessly, and the execution is on point. Sharp and clean lines, great combination. He's not following the crowd either. Chris Bosh looks really good too. They would be my two favorites.
You would love to work with them?
I don't think they really need me but I would love to work with Kobe and Vanessa. There are just different things I see that I would enhance.
What athlete would you want to work to change their look for the better?
Joakim Noah. I would want to cut his hair and put him in something very sleek and slender.
Which celebrity would you want to style next?
Who's more of a fashionista: Olivia or Kerry?
Olivia Pope. Kerry's trying to create a separation between her character's image and her own. She's a quirky person but there's a different way of executing it to bring that about.