By Hannah Yakobi
Photography by Greg Swales, and Raina and Wilson
One of the most recognized stylists in Canada, Amy Lu has worked with some of the top photographers, designers and celebrities. In 2008, her work with photographer Barb Cole won Grand Prix of Fashion Photography at the International Festival of Photography in Cannes. In addition, she has worked as a fashion correspondent for Peroni at the Toronto Fashion Week and TIFF, fashion editor for Donato Magazine and fashion columnist for The Georgia Straight. Lu has also been a style consultant for Global Televisions News anchors, as well as the SCORE’s sportscasters.
In her Exclusive with FAJO Magazine, Lu chats about her dedication to the fashion industry, her most memorable shoots and why her grandmother’s wedding dress can always put a smile on her face.
HANNAH YAKOBI: You have worked on so many shoots for the last 11 years. What type of styling do you enjoy the most?
AMY LU: Every job is different and so is every facet of styling – I enjoy having that diversity. For example, I love working with celebrities, because of the buzz that surrounds them. Their shoots are always super infectious and exhilarating. I also love doing editorials because I love fashion, and that is what is nearest and dearest to my heart. I can spend hours putting the outfits together and thinking about the story we will be telling through clothes. Commercial projects are fun too because there is a very clear end goal and everybody wants to make the best product possible. I also work on a lot of personal styling for celebrities and on-air talent, and that is very rewarding because I help them figure out the way to look good and, therefore, feel great.
Whenever you style a shoot, is there a particular moment that always reminds you why you are in this industry?
Every job is different, but the process is very similar: you have to find out what the assignment is, source the items, do the shoot and return all the items. For me, the actual shoot is wonderful, as is seeing it all come together. I do a lot of print work, so it’s very gratifying to get the magazine in your hands and see the finished product.
But the part that I absolutely love is the day before the shoot when I have all the clothes on the rolling rack, and it’s just me and them. I make outfits and that’s when I really get to be my most creative self: I dive deep into the message that I want to convey with the clothing.
Stylists often work on shoots that are done outside of Canada. How frequently do you travel?
I travel often; usually, a minimum of once or twice a month. My work is mostly in Canada, but sometimes in the United States as well. And there are random jobs that take me to other places. I also love travelling for inspiration – recently, I was in the Bahamas and Nicaragua. I try to do as many of those trips as I can.
Normally, what are your first thoughts when you are attending a fashion show?
As soon as the items start coming down the runway, I’m automatically thinking of stories that I would like to put the clothes in. I love fashion shows, but they are a presentation of a designer’s vision. For me, the most exciting part is taking those clothes and putting them together in a different way. A trend is created because somebody makes it a trend. If three designers happen to show a red dress, then it’s easy to say that red is “hot” for that season. But I see runway shows as a presentation: to me, it’s like watching ballet or listening to music. As a stylist, I can take the bits that I love, reinvent and combine them and mold them into something else.
Do you have a favourite shoot to date? One that was the most vibrant or colourful, and that really stands out?
One of the great things about styling is that you are often placed in amazing houses, old museums and really beautiful nature spots that make the best backdrops and that a lot of people don’t get to see. I am a big fan of shooting on location. I’m from Vancouver and I love travelling, so I love the woods, the beach and the sky because they never look bad. And I love the natural light: I would rather shoot on the beach or in a big field of flowers than in a studio.
One shoot that really stands out was several years ago, when I was working on an assignment for Gore Sportswear for about a week. We shot all over America in some really incredible nature spots that included tops of mountains, beside Lake Tahoe. It was stunning. Those are the moments when you are styling in this most breathtaking area, and you feel lucky and very happy.
Another one of those moments was when I did a shoot with Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman in New York. I love romantic, feminine clothes and I really felt like I was in a fairytale during the shoot. I was surrounded by a lot of beautiful gowns, tulle, beading and Swarovski crystals. The clothes were like works of art and there must have been 30 gowns or so on rolling racks. We were on the roof of the Lowe Hotel, so it was another moment when I felt so lucky to be working in this industry.
Do you have anything in your closet that you have an emotional connection to?
Two pieces – because I’m a Gemini and I only work in twos! My grandmother’s wedding dress that she made herself for her wedding – it’s blue velvet with a beautiful crochet detail. She looked so beautiful on her wedding day, and as a kid I would often try the dress on. There are a lot of very fun memories attached to it.
My second favourite item is my Stussy T-shirt with an 8-ball on it. My brother and I were little skateboarders when we were kids, it was his T-shirt and when I was about 13 I stole it from him.
Those are my two favourite things and, in a way, they also reflect my styling. I love very feminine, flirty, girly pieces. But I always seem to match them with something very punky, hard or edgy, so that it is not totally girly.
What styling tips can you share with our readers?
There are no rules. You can take whatever you like from any rules or tips that people give you, but at the end of the day it’s all about how you feel. Clothes are a really excellent medium to express yourself or to make you feel one way or another. Great style is accessible to anybody. It’s about putting the effort in: it’s not necessarily about money; but about taking the time to find out what makes you feel really good. So I think that’s the secret to great style. And a good pair of skinny jeans!
For more information about Amy Lu, visit www.judyinc.com/amylu