ALEX VAN DER STEEN / TRAVEL DESTINATION FASHION EDITOR, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
When Alex flies to a particular destination for work or for some fun in the sun he always comes back with a huge suitcase with experiences, memories, new friends and priceless life experience says the NYC based stylist. “Most of the pictures in Brazil are made on and around the beach…Ipanema and also Copacabana….the architecture in Rio is remarkable…lots of the architecture of the buildings are kind of stuck in time ..in the 60’s so super interesting. Everything that happens on the beach is a treat for the eye! A lot of the situations are very entertaining in a positive way but I also saw people being robbed and almost beaten to death because of their money… Some people are so desperate, they do anything to survive”.
TRAVEL DESTINATION \ ALEX VAN DEER STEEN
Alex van der Steen was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 1991 Alex graduated from the H.K.U. (Hoge School voor de Kunsten in Utrecht), a renowned art academy based in the Netherlands. After having experience in designing mens’ collections, Alex started working as a designer for Lee and Wrangler in Brussels, Belgium. After 3 years, Alex decided to continue his career doing styling for photo shoots. Soon after this decision Alex ended up being fashion director for the famous mens’ magazine Squeeze, which was a big success for many years. Alex’s signature can be described as street conscious meets sophistication and polished minimalistic luxury. His way of styling style is remarkable because he knows how to build outfits in layers. Alex has been styling for the likes of Elle, Marie-Claire, Glamour, Red, JFK, Stijl magazine, Jackie magazine, Dutch, Ilovefake magazine, Avantgarde, Grazia and Glamcult. After working for 15 years in the European market Alex moved to New York City to expand his horizon. Soon Alex started working for international titles like:Vogue UA, Vogue NL, Vogue Spain, Vman, Sicky Magazine, Schon Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, l’Officiel Hommes, Rollacoaster, Wonderland, Fashion Inc., Vestal magazine, Fiasco magazine, Metal magazine, Bullett magazine, Surface magazine, Essential homme, August man, GQ, Vibe, The ones to watch (models.com), Schon, And men, Cosas Moda, Elle Mexico, Blank magazine and Fault Magazine.
Vestal Magazine: You just recently return from a photo shoot in Wales. Tell us about it?
Alex Van der Steen: It was a very surprising beginning….first of all I was mesmerized by the beauty of this part of the United Kingdom. The landscape is just breathtaking…the skies are very dramatic and on top of that we ended up in villages which were absolutely enchanting! The state of the weather changed every minute from highly sunny to heavy hail storms
VM: Is there any favorite places to eat there?
AVDS: There are loads of cool typical Welsh pubs and restaurants with some real odd specialties. I tried most of them but they are mostly meat based so not really my thing.
VM: Where did you stay?
AVDS: We stayed in a real castle. Roch castle situated in Roch, Haverfordwest. This ancient castle was our home for 4 days and we only saw the people who worked there in the morning, for us to make breakfasts…we were truly pampered and extremely spoiled….out team, consisting of 2 photographers, 1 hair & makeup artist, the model and me had the whole place to ourselves…i have seen many hotels or bed and breakfast places but this was the most impressive stay ever.
VM: Tell me about the artwork you sent? Where were they taken and who are the artists?
AVDS: The artist of the art pieces I took pictures of are unknown to me which to me is not a negative thing…I just loved these art pieces.... The thing with art to me is, I do not consider art “art with a capital A”, which means that I think that everybody perceives and experiences art in their special way….art is not absolute but is a subjective and personal. I think when there is an emotion while observing art, the purpose of that specific art piece is successful!…. Even if you feel disgust. There is an emotion which is essential!
VM: Where are your favorite places to eat in a day?
AVDS: usually I love the real authentic local diners and restaurants…which are not the most popular ones for the mass audience.
VM: What is your most favorite area of Nevada.
AVDS: I loved Las Vegas but only for a few days, it is such a magical, evil, crazy, entertaining, surreal, contagious, stressful, abundant, playful, dangerous, addicting, persuasive city…but that makes this city of sin so interestingAlso Red Rock Canyon just outside Las Vegas is enchanting…Death Valley National Park is just one of those places where you forget the rest of the world…because it is so widespread and secluded…when you sit down in this desert you just hear absolutely nothing! Lake Tahoe….just mesmerizing.. Lake Mead which is something else….the hoover dam is incredible….you just wonder how in the freak people could have built such an immense dam….also the colors of the sky and rocks just blow you away.
VM: How many times have you been there?
AVDS: I have visited Nevada 8 times….including California, Arizona, Utah… I love doing road trips and explore!
VM: Tell me about yourself and your career so far, how did you become a fashion stylist? I come a long way. i started off studying economy and philosophy, after this i decided to study photography…a total different direction…after this i also studied at the HKU, the art academy in Utrecht, The Netherlands. During my graduation i started working as a designer for VF Europe (LEE and Wrangler)….i travelled a lot for this job and started to get in touch with teams who were working on the photo shoots. This triggered my interest for styling as well…i have been working as a stylist for over 20 years…i think styling is the most underrated profession ever. Stylist have a lot on their plate and are responsible for the mood of the images but are being less paid and get less credits for their hard work
VM: Let’s say you could travel back in time to one fashion era, where would you end up? What did you like about that period?
AVDS: I would say the late 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s….fashion was just exciting because there were a handful stylists and photographers….everything was possible cause we all were exploring new ways to express ourselves…think of epic magazines like I-D, the Face, Dutch….to name a few… only a few Fashion designers were ruling like Jean Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler, Gianni Versace, Emporio Armani, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Azzedine Alaia, Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons…to name a few
Nowadays there are so many stylists and photographers and with the digital evolution every creative person gets away with mediocre images….
VM: Who is your favorite designer? Why?
AVDS: Raf Simons although I have more but Raf cannot go wrong in my book…he is a genius
VM: What advice would you give an up and coming fashion stylist?
AVDS: Try to create your own style and put depth in your work…be conscious about what happens in this world and focus! This profession is not an easy one….
VM: What is the biggest misconception people not working in your field have about your job?
AVDS: That it is all glamour and we live a ‘la vie en rose’…..Not….travelling can be amazing and if you are lucky you can see the environment of the location you are at…but mostly it is just hard focussed work
VM: What has been the most memorable moment of your career, so far?
ADVS: There are too many to mention; but if i have to mention a major experience it was the ones with Dick van der Niet, He managed to organise press trips to Africa with a lot of teams from all the major Dutch magazines! We had the chance to visit Mozambique, Zambia, and South Africa over a course of 4 different trips. We had the best time: amazing hotels, mesmerizing locations and enchanting experiences! The time we went to Mozambique was for me the most impressive. People were poor but lived a real happy life and were so aware what was going on in the world even though there hardly was WIFI
VM: What challenges do you have as a stylist?
AVDS: I find it hard to be treated like just a provider of clothes. Stylists have an essential voice in creating the images. We are not only putting together mood boards, defining atmosphere and making sure the looks and garments arrive in time, we also have to act real precise and with a lot of care! We need to work with collections and garments which are not our property so we need to treat them with a lot of care, which is not always understood! Some garments have a price tag of thousands of dollars so we are always responsible! This can be very stressful, not to speak about we fear of losing stuff! Another important challenge is to try to connect with photographers …loyalty is key but not easy to achieve. We all rely on the creative process to create editorials which show your signature. It is very important to work on commercial jobs with those photographers as well. Teamwork is something you always need to strive for!
VM: What goals do you wish to achieve in the future?
AVDS: At this point i know how the fashion industry works….one day you are in, the other day you are out…Heidi Klum said it right. There are a lot of cases of “ self fulfilling prophecy” going on! It is just a struggle to constantly try to get jobs. Especially now, our industry is not what it used to be, Too many stylists and photographers who are willing to work for less money so the market will be destroyed!
VM: How do you choose what looks work for each individual client?
AVDS: It all depends on the character, type of person, and courage of that person! It is key to get to know the client thoroughly!
VM: How would you describe your personal style?
AVDS: I love to layer, play around with shapes. My style is chic but heavenly inspired by the street, where every trend starts!
VM: What is your favorite item in your closet?
AVDS: My Raf Simons sneakers and pants!!!
VM: Everyone loves a good deal, what are some of your favorite places to find budget buys?
AVDS:I tend to be careful with cheap clothing! I always wonder how they manage to produce that piece of clothing for such a low price! We all need to be conscious of this. It might be produced by children in poor third world countries.
VM: What trends are you loving right now?
AVDS: I love the minimalistic masculine tough look for women AND the diversity and inclusiveness trends, although I hope the last 2 are not just trends…It is funny: i always loved that masculine layered style for women but nobody understood that style …now it is huge. Same for the diversity trend. I always was interested in diversity in my work. I always thought it was super necessary! i was actually appalled seeing only white blond girls and boys in the magazines! Pushing different looking models, different in age, ethnic background and culture was extremely interesting to me and absolutely necessary to break thru the cliches! I had very little support at the time and quite some resistance. I never understood that and i always kept on pushing. I knew it was due to our system, the white straight normative society we live in. There is nothing wrong with the white skin color or being a straight person but when this is the only norm, there is a huge problem!
VM: Who is your style icon, and why?
AVDS: I love Frank Ocean (rap artist), David Lynch, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger (RIP), Martin Luther King, Alan Ball (writer, director and producer of SIX FEET UNDER and AMERICAN BEAUTY), Cate Blanchett, …..if you know a bit about these talented people, you know why I respect them deeply!
VM: Where do you draw your fashion inspiration?
AVDS: Absolutely from other cultures, streetlife, situations I do not know, travelling, animals, nature documentary’s, movies
VM: If you could only wear one designer the rest of your life who would it be and why?
AVDS: RAF SIMONS