I. ORI LEV
Stylist ___ Kismet Magazine. Love Sex Dance Magazine. Fiasco Magazine.
Hi there Ori, How was your day?
Good but full of surprises.
So let’s begin with the basics, to the uneducated amongst us, how would you describe the role of a fashion stylist?
Well a fashion stylist today has a lot of definitions personal stylist, celebrity stylist etc. I don’t do any of those, I see my role as coming up with a concept for an editorial shoot, fashion show, video. This includes casting the models for a shoot, choosing the clothes, the location, and the overall composition. All of those things usually fall under my control especially when doing an uncommissioned editorial.
Of course you are building your name as a stylist, was this role one of choice or did you find it to be a natural progression from a different discipline? Is styling a skill you have always possessed?
I think that working in fashion as a designer, stylist or whatever is not something that you choose. I mean it kind of chooses you, in my case I always knew I was going to work in the arts, I just didn’t know what kind of arts. Then I moved to Milan when I was 19 and it hit m, .somehow a city that screams fashion from all over woke me up. I enrolled to ‘INSTITUTE MARANGONI’ and studied 2 years of fashion styling and then another year of fashion business to get a wider approach to fashion. I guess playing dress up with my sister’s Barbie dolls should have given me an idea of what I was going to do in the future.
Many stylists tend not to pigeon-hole themselves; do you find yourself involved in other creative disciplines here in London?
Well I wouldn’t say that I’m doing something different then what I do, it’s always in the filed of fashion, working with designers or agencies, magazines, singers etc. I think the only time I tried to go out of the loop was when I had my own party line in Tel-Aviv which was called “PWP” for about 7 months, until I’d had enough of night life. But maybe ill go back to that one day.
Speaking of London, is there any particular reason you choose this city to pursue your dream, as apposed to Paris, Milan or New York for example?
Well I already lived in Milan for 4 years so I didn’t feel that going back there was the right thing to do, same with Paris and New York, well they don’t hand green cards so easily there. Coming to London was always something I wanted to do, I have been coming here every summer since I was 8 to study English and I feel that I’m very influenced by the English culture and I believe that in the following years London is going to become the true fashion capital of the modern world. The era of London not making good fashion but having a great editorial view is coming slowly to an end, something that I believe most people saw on the last fashion week. The clothes are not just about being cool they are about being beautiful, an approach that I feel very connected to. So I guess London is just a natural fit to me.
On a personal level, we find you’re styling to be understated yet innovative simultaneously. The shoots have a very natural and almost candid feel about them, the clothes equally untheatrical and real. The ‘Leo Meets TLV,’ shoot for example has a great spontaneous feel about it. What was the idea behind this shoot?
It was the beginning of summer and I had been asked by Models.com’ to make an editorial for ‘TheOnes2Watch’. So the idea of shooting it on a busy Tel-aviv beach just came to me, and I already worked with the model ‘leo’ before on another editorial which is one of my favourites. Luckily for us the beach wasn’t too full of people and everything worked out as it should. I would say it was a very spontaneous thing I called the photographer a night before the shoot and I told him to be at the beach. As for the clothes I have a very minimalistic approach to fashion, most of the clothes I use are always black, white, brown, and grey. I have little feeling for colour, I don’t like making a ‘circus’ when it comes to using too many clothes to create a look, my approach is to create something clean which co-reacts with the concept.
What would the general styling process be? Do you instantly sense a certain model in a certain outfit, or is the process very fluid? Within a certain artistic concept we assume?
I always have a vision of how I want things to look even before I’m going out to collect the clothes from pr offices, stores, designers. I always have it in my head first. After that to make my life easier I do try to build an outfit a day before the shoot, sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. Because it is a very fluid process you come to the set and all of a sudden I feel that I want to use different things or the outfit just doesn’t sit right on the model, in fashion you always have to be ready to re-invent.
On the subject of models, is it a stylist’s job to direct a model?
It depends; I mean I worked with some photographers who wanted me to direct the models and other photographers that did it themselves. You always have to be on the set to keep an eye and see that everything is going along with the concept but at the end I believe that a photographer’s job Is to take the concept that the stylist has created and turn it into an image. A great stylist is really a person that can make any photographer take amazing pictures.
The models in your ‘Fiasco’ shoot we noticed were never face on to the camera, was this direction chosen to fully allow the viewer to appreciate the garments?
No, it was just part of everything that happened during the shoot, the overall feeling of my self and the photographer and the models, all of the parties involved understood the concept and just went on with it.
Would you say you have a signature working style and overall aesthetic?
I believe so, yes. My work is always very clean and very down to earth.
On reflection, do you find your personal style consciously or subconsciously affects the aesthetic you create? How would you describe your personal style?
Of course, I would never dress someone in something that I wouldn’t put on myself. My style is very much like my work I love all black outfits, trench coats, blazers and I always keep it very minimalistic and clean. Even when dressing a woman I always put my self in her shoes and start to think what would I wear if I were a woman.
We found the word candid and raw came to mind whilst perusing the shoots you have been involved in, particularly the ‘Raw Boys,’ shoot. Out of interest, do you find it easier dressing men or women?
Early on during my studies menswear had stolen most of my attention, and during my second year I devoted my self totally to study menswear. I don’t think it’s a question of hard or easy, it comes down to passion and I feel more passionate on coming up with concepts that have men in them. As of today 90% of my work is menswear and I do believe that it will stay this way.
To date have you had one stand out shoot that instantly springs to mind as your favourite/most successful?
Hmm, that’s a hard one I love all of my work and each time I do something new it becomes my favourite. But I would say that the most exciting one was “on the edge” for see7 magazine. It was a shoot on the edge of the Judean desert in Israel and it resulted in some of the most amazing shots I have ever seen.
Do you have any exciting collaborations on the cards that you may like to let ElysumE in on?
There are always collaborations coming up. But you just have to stay tuned to hear about them.
Do you find the collaborative process a conflict of artistic opinion? Or a chance to rebound ideas that you would generally disregard?
I’ve never had a concept of mine that didn’t got used, so I wouldn’t know about conflicts, but I love brainstorming with other people I think it’s a great way to learn more and make your self even more creative.
Do you have a muse, fashion related or otherwise?
God, Love, Wine, Life. I mean we all live in such an amazing and dynamic world. Just today I was sitting down to have lunch at some coffee shop and you can see all these people going around living their lives, you go out you see the sky, the earth, the sea. I don’t think that there is a bigger muse then that.
If you were to trade places with one person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
I don’t know about being someone else but I would love to have lived in the time of ancient Rome. I find living life without any technology is amazing.
If we were to check your bedside table right now, what would we find?
Pack of cigarettes, 2 books and a copy of L'uomo vogue
What was the last book you read?
An amazing book called ‘Se Domain Fare il Bel Tempo,’ about a rich Italian boy and his life in Milan.
Speaking of, if someone wrote your biography, what would you think the title should be?
I think it would probably be a saga called: The Chronicles of Ori - the bitch, weed and the Prada pants.
Finally, what was the best thing before they invented sliced-bread?
I-Tunes! I’m addicted god help me!