Styling is no joke. You might be able to design the coolest piece of clothing but that doesn’t mean you have an eye for fits and combos. When it comes to putting clothes together and arranging outfits, what matters is the bigger picture and stylist Donna Lisa knows that. Her creations have been featured on the covers of all the most prestigious magazines in the world.
Some of her latest work was featured in the cover of L’Officiel and starred Joe Manganiello, just to name-drop a little. So we thought we’d ask her for some tips and secrets of the styling world.
First, tell us your story
Fashion has always been my biggest passion since I can remember but I never thought I’d be able to do it for a living. In college I started an online vintage store called ‘Redo me’ which was basically a selection of vintage pieces that I would rework, alter, repurpose and sell.
This is when I was living in Miami. The online store did very well so emerging directors and designers started asking me to style their productions etc.
It wasn’t until I moved to LA that I actually started consciously pursuing a career in styling. I quit the retail game and started reaching out to stylists I looked up to and started assisting them.
How do you remember your first assisting jobs?
I kid you not, assisting was not a good time at all, haha! There were a lot of Devil Wears Prada-like episodes where I was belittled and treated like shit. That left a very bitter taste in my mouth and kinda made me question if I even wanted to keep pursuing a career in styling so I got away for a minute but sure enough I was pulled back into it.
What made you come back?
Once again, friends of mine would ask me to collaborate and recommend me for little productions here and there. I was working at Wasteland at the time (for their e-commerce site when it existed) when I was offered a lead styling role for a bigger retailer. I worked there for 2 years before I got so busy with freelance gigs that I left to pursue it full time on my own.
How was your experience in corporate fashion?
I definitely learned a lot. Corporate fashion is a whole different animal so I had to learn how to work fast and well. I learned so much about the e-commerce side of things which really helped me out in my future jobs for sure.
Then it got to the point where I gained the confidence to get off on my own and quit my 9 to 5 because I was getting so many requests for collaborations from outside that I needed to take the leap. That’s a defining moment for every stylists’ career: you need to make the jump and go for it at some point!
What would you say is the best way to get embedded into the fashion scene?
That’s such a difficult question to answer because we live in an era where social media could be a double edged sword for an aspiring stylist or creative in general. I mean, on the one hand it can give you massive exposure but on the other hand it takes away the human interaction side of things which is crucial in this field.
When I moved to LA I was in the scene, I mean I was a part of it as much as I could! I went to the parties, met the people, hung out with the designers etc. That’s how you start shaping your own circle of people and creatives. Like minded people gravitate towards each other.
What is the beneficial use of social media for a creative nowadays?
I’d say use it cleverly. It’s a great platform to get your name out there but you need to be able to keep up with the work. You can’t be only focused on building your IG following and not have any real interaction with the people in the field you’re pursuing. Besides, there are so many people on social media right now that it might even be harder for an aspiring artist to break through the noise. Some of the most influential stylists in the game right now don’t even have an Instagram account!
Are there any gigs or moments in your career you remember more fondly than others?
Oh wow, there are many! One of the first jobs I’ve ever had was a commercial and Juan Luis Guerra was a part of it and my mom is a huge fan of his so it was nice to see her so proud and excited.
I got to work on an MTV series called Wonderland and Lizzo was a part of it. She wasn’t as big as she is now but she was the host and it was amazing to work with her. I remember that quite fondly because among everyone else I got to style Mac Miller who was such an angel, God rest his soul!
You could pick anybody to style, who would you pick?
Honestly, I am obsessed with Rosalia! I know she has a stylist already but I would love to work with her!