Vixen Summer Series: Globetrotting Wardrobe Dresser Krystle Rodriguez Welcomes Us To Her World
Krystle Rodriguez is not your average stylist.
Primping the world’s most influential artists, the 28-year-old Bronx, New York native’s unmatched hustle and work ethic has propelled her from stylist intern to globetrotting wardrobe dresser in only a matter of five short years. And not to mention, she’s lent her detailed, sartorial expertise to the likes of Madonna’s MDNA tour and Pharell’s Dear Girl tour. “Being around such creative people and curating alongside them in a creative setting is an experience in it’s own right,” she told Vixen.
Vixen caught up with Krystle before she jet sets to Europe for a month long stint on Pharrell’s tour. Here, she talks about how she started her career in fashion, the gems she picked up along the way, and her own personal style. – Ashley Monae
How did you jump start your career in fashion?
Basically, I entered into a contest via Twitter for an internship with a wardrobe stylist named Emily B. I had to write why I wanted to work in fashion and why it was my passion. I was chosen and my career really grew from that opportunity. I interned with her for about a year assisting on music videos and styling artists. During that time I met a lot of people in the industry and built relationships. I kept working and before I knew it progressed from just an internship and it led me to the position that I am in today.
So, what exactly do you do?
It’s kind of complex (laughs). People always mix up wardrobe styling and wardrobe dressing and don’t fully understand the differentiation between the two. When I first started out with Emily B I was doing more wardrobe styling, but these days I am more on the wardrobe dressing side of things. I work hand-in-hand with costume designers and stylists by helping them understand how to build clothing that will last the amount of time an artist will be on tour. I help pick fabrics, finishings, and even make sure ensembles have rigs for easy changing between sets and songs. Overall, my job is to help the aforementioned understand the concept of costumes that have to be on the road as opposed to performing at an awards show for one time only.
How did you transition from intern to bonafide stylist?
Towards the end of my interning days I was offered a small job as a wardrobe stylist position doing valet work. That small job turned into being asked to go on the road with an artist for 23 weeks around the world. It was a world I knew nothing about, but when I got into it I learned everything I absolutely could. I built relationships and that’s really how I’ve been able to continue on booking work, doing wardrobe, traveling, touring, all of those things that come with the territory of the job. Basically, it wasn’t about what I knew but who I knew. But you also have to work hard and really have the drive. In my situation, I sought out to do something and when I got the opportunity I worked hard to prove myself. Another thing I learned was that not only making but nurturing relationships are so important in this industry. A person could be serving you coffee one day and the next they could be hiring you for a job. You really just have to be nice – to everyone. People remember those things.
You’ve had the honor to work for many influential artists like Pharrell and Madonna. How was that experience?
Taking on bigger jobs like these are so inspirational. I try to absorb and take in everything I can because these aren’t normal opportunities that people get everyday. Being around such creative people and curating alongside them in a creative setting is an experience in it’s own right. I try to learn as much as I can from everyone whether it’s the artists drummer or the person building the stage or the creative director. So I just soak in everything and learn from everyone.
Your own style has garnered a lot of attention. Were you always a tomboy?
I wasn’t always a tomboy. I probably didn’t tap into that side of myself until my early 20’s. I’ve experimented a lot with different styles (laughs). I always wanted to try and be that girly-girly, but I could never really pull it off, you know what I mean? I’ve always had a love for sneakers and baggy jeans and now that I’ve sort of tapped into this style I really like it. It’s super comfortable being a tomboy anyways than trying to dress up and wear heels everyday. I mean hey, it works for me.
What are your thoughts on the latest trend of fusing street wear and high fashion?
I honestly wouldn’t consider it a new trend now because it’s been done before. For years people have been dressing like that but now it’s transitioning to the younger generation. You have to think about it, back in the early ’90s Biggie and Lil Kim were rocking Versace and Chanel sweatsuits. And even then, you can take it a little bit further back to the ’80s when Dapper Dan would make those custom Louis Vuitton suits and Gucci suits for the rappers. I feel like now social media has brought it more to the forefront with people being able to reference back to those time periods. You know how it goes: things in fashion always come back around.
Thus far, what would you credit your success to?
Honestly, just hard work, determination and the support of my family. That’s it. I took a leap of faith and I worked by butt off. With my family’s support it made it easy to just pack up and do what I wanted to do. It takes time, you have to have patience. When you set out to do big things in this industry you gotta start from the bottom and climb the latter.
And how have you managed to balance it all: work, family/friends, etc?
It depends. There are periods where I am working nonstop and there are others where I’m home for a month or two. It all just depends on my schedule, how long the job I book is for, and how many jobs I get within that one year. It wasn’t easy managing my down time and getting to see my family and friends, but after doing it for five years I’ve got it down to a science. Thank God for technology because it can get a little lonely at times (laughs). I may be on the other side of the world sometimes but everyone is just a text or phone call away.
What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about working as a wardrobe dresser/stylist?
The biggest misconception is that it’s easy, it’s fun, and that you instantly make a lot of money right away (laughs). I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case. It takes a lot of hard work. Sometimes you go one or two days without sleeping and depending upon who your client is they could be a nightmare and very demanding, you know. It’s not always glamorous.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well as of now, I’ll be in Europe for the entire month of June doing summer festivals with Pharrell. In the next five years, I plan to be married with a baby. Also, I’d like to work more on TV and movie sets doing wardrobe as opposed to traveling because once I become a mom I can’t just travel the world like I am now. But everything comes when it comes. I’m going to tour for about two more years and then look for more stationary work.
Photo Credit: The Coveteur