Stylist Rachel Lefort wears Perch Denver
Our series Talk Shop is a career and style profile featuring personalities from various industries. They are shot on location in Cherry Creek sometimes wearing clothing from stores in the area. Esther Lee Leach interviews Stylist Rachel Lefort who is wearing clothing from Perch in Cherry Creek North.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ESTHER LEE LEACH // CLOTHING BY PERCH DENVER
Esther Lee Leach: Rachel, you have so many exciting roles, tell us what you do and how you got started.
Rachel Lefort: Thank you so much, Esther! What an honor to be interviewed for Cherry Creek Fashion! I am a Personal Fashion Stylist for women and men. I help my clients to define their personal style and brand and how they want to be perceived, both in their professional and personal lives. Then I help them to design a style that is authentic and aligned with who they want to be, focusing on the wardrobe, accessories, and the total outer look.
In addition to Personal Styling I provide seminars for businesses and organizations on various topics such as the importance of your personal style, and how to build a professional, stylish wardrobe. Regarding my background, I have been a Personal Stylist for almost 10 years, basically since I moved to Colorado, but my past experience is in Fashion Design. I have been immersed in fashion since I was a kid, from sewing lessons in school, right through to Syracuse University where I earned a Bachelor’s in Fashion Design. In addition to Syracuse, I studied at the London College of Fashion, Parsons in New York and Paris, and l’École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, to further my studies and gain international experience in high fashion.
I worked in design at Ann Taylor in New York right after graduating Syracuse. Then upon going back to school in Paris, I was able to gain experience in Haute Couture, at the houses of Dior and Balmain. While in Paris I met American Couturier, Maggie Norris, and began helping her manage production of Parisian garments for her New York collections. Subsequently, when moving back to New York I worked for Maggie Norris Couture for many years, until a family move brought us to Colorado and resulted in my career pivot to Personal Styling.
ELL: Describe your role with J Hilburn.
RL: Beside my services of wardrobe edits, personal shopping and styling outfits, I also carry the line of J.Hilburn Custom Menswear as part of my business. That means that the guys don’t actually have to shop the stores. While I do offer that service, many guys truly appreciate the option of a complimentary wardrobe consultation and personal shopping, right at their office. This includes discussing his wardrobe needs and desired style for his professional and personal life, as well as fit preferences and challenges. I will help choose clothing to be made for him, and we’ll come up with a plan for building his wardrobe over time, for various occasions. I’ll take his measurements and assess his fit, and then design each piece, either with him or for him. I have a stock of beautiful fabrics from Italy- wools, cashmeres and cottons for jackets, trousers, shirts, 5 pocket pants, knits, outerwear and more- all custom made, plus other products to complete his wardrobe and provide a convenient resource. When I deliver the garments I check the fit and make any necessary corrections so that once the fit is dialed in, future shopping is as easy as a text!
Part of my role as a stylist is to really listen, and then upon earning trust, gently pull my clients out of their comfort zone to try new things and help to elevate his or her style. When I work with my clients I hope to see that they stand a little taller because they have more confidence. What I really love to see is a text telling me how many compliments they’re receiving! In addition to playing the role of stylist to my clients, for J.Hilburn I also recruit, train and mentor new stylists to grow their own businesses. Last year I was selected to be a National Training Ambassador for stylists in the Denver Market.
ELL: How did you become a Stylist?
RL: Initially when I moved to Colorado I was asked to teach fashion courses at a sewing and design studio, so I created classes and had a wide range of students from kids to adults. I taught “Fabric Knowledge 101”, “Your Career in the Fashion Industry” which was great for budding fashionistas and “How to Create a Collection and Present it in a Portfolio.” I taught for several seasons and while promoting the classes, someone asked me for help with her wardrobe. I realized quickly how amazing it could be to utilize my knowledge of fashion for helping people. There is an incredible sense of fulfillment that comes with helping someone gain confidence. After that first client I gained more clients by word of mouth, and decided to form a business. Soon after I was asked to present the trends at Nordstrom, which turned into many events, and I also began writing monthly style tips for the Denver Post and eventually became the Fashion Stylist for Denver Life Magazine. I began speaking and facilitating seminars for businesses and organizations about the importance of your personal style and how to build a professional, stylish wardrobe. The business just grew organically.
ELL: You worked on the Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. What was your role in the project? Tell us more about the experience of working on this exhibit.
RL: Yes! It was a fantastic experience. I was hired by the Denver Art Museum to be part of the Textile Installation Team. We worked closely with the team from Dior to help install the nearly 200 looks in the exhibition. For nearly 5 weeks we dressed each mannequin or dress form, building the under dressing for each look, in order to fill out the curves and the design of the garment, and bring it to life. It was the same way that the designer (Christian Dior or one of his successors) had intended it to have looked on the client, celebrity or model who originally wore the piece. It was a dream walking into the Denver Art Museum every day and working in the temporary “ateliers” that we created inside the galleries. To be surrounded by such beauty, art and workmanship every day was incredibly inspiring.
ELL: Where do you find your style inspiration?
RL: Everywhere! From the runway, and also the streets and the stores. From fabrics, museums (i.e. Dior: From Paris to the World!), photographs, magazines, interior design, tv and films.
ELL: Who are your favorite designers?
RL: There are so many designers who inspire me! Christian Dior, Raf Simons, Valentino, Sarah Burton, Zac Posen, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Rucci, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Vince, Donna Karan, Chiara Boni, Brunello Cucinelli and Zegna.
ELL: What are your three favorite places to shop for clothing in Denver?
RL: Garbarini, Perch, Nordstrom Rack, Zara (oops, that’s 4 … it’s obviously so hard to narrow down!)
ELL: What styling advice can you give someone trying to discover their personal style?
RL: Take time to really think about how you want to be perceived by others, professionally and personally. Think about what adjectives you want next to your name. What do you want your personal brand to be? How do you want it to look? What do you want others to feel about your brand? Look inside and think about your authentic self and the self that you want to project. Think about whether you’re portraying that image on the outside, through your personal style, your wardrobe and appearance, and the way you carry yourself. You can make a conscious decision to define the personal style that you want, and create it, so that the outside is aligned with the inside, and therefore you’ll feel confident every day!
ELL: What are three items that every woman should have in their wardrobe and three items that every man should have in their wardrobe?
RL: Actually, I believe it’s practically the same for ladies and for gents! Must-haves for the ladies? A great-fitting blazer, blouse and denim. For the guys, a well-fitting sport coat, shirt and denim. Remember, no matter what, fit is key! Everything in your wardrobe should ideally fit well and make you feel great.
Rachel Lefort @rachellefortstyle