After spending several years in the industry, starting as a lifestyle publicist, Christina has built an impressive resume that includes working with her celebrity clientele, on numerous editorial campaigns and contributing as a fashion expert. Her work can be seen from red carpets such as the Emmys
to the pages of Elle Magazine.
It’s safe to say Christina Pacelli is an expert in all things fashion, and today we are lucky enough to chat with her!
(Laverne Cox with her stylist Christina Pacelli in her final moments before stepping onto the 2014 Emmys red carpet.)
Tell us a little about yourself and your career so far?
I am a fashion stylist based in NYC who specializes in celebrity, editorial and commercial styling. I relish being a stylist in New York City where my imagination runs wild daily and is creatively expressed through the various looks I curate for magazine photoshoots and my clients’ appearances. Being immersed in the industry on a daily basis, it can become easy to grow immune to the extreme creativity that unfolds around you while shooting in some of the coolest locations and studios. But New York is where this creativity originates and thrives in, and every day I am able practice my art here, I feel increasingly inspired.
I am a true California girl in my upbringing and interests. I grew up in Orange County, California and lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco prior to New York. The West Coast and its beaches will always be where I identify deepest and where my family still lives. In my youth, I developed obsessions for the things happening around me – music, art, culture, fashion (my obvious daily fixation), water, travel and adventures. My hometown of Huntington Beach was an incubator for all of these – a progressive environment where innately cool kids set the agenda for skate and surf culture that ultimately influenced Southern California fashion like Howe, Volcom, Burton and Paul Frank Industries.
My first career was as an accomplished publicist practicing public relations in consumer lifestyle industries. I mastered how to work with the media, brand marketing and developing communications that built positive reputations for my clients.
I apply those skills now as a fashion stylist with the job of making my client look and feel his or her best, while evolving their personal style to the status of style icons in a way that can be inspiring to people. I love my job and although it comes with its extreme and un-glamorous challenges, it is what I was made to do.
How do you choose what looks work for each individual client?
When first working with a client, there is an understanding in place that it takes a little time to understand their body, personal tastes and how they prefer to be worked with until the magic really starts to flow. Bodies and dressing them are very personal so it is important to embrace the process especially if you envision that relationship to be a long-term one.
I quickly become skilled in discerning what will and will not work on my client, and what new things I would like to try with him or her. My personal taste can be quirky, edgy and “fashion future” as I call it. There are some clients I work with in which I tame that tendency simply because I know the limits of what they will like. It can be a sliding scale of dressing someone in a beautiful, sophisticated and “complete” look to something interesting, memorable and more editorial.
My job is to procure garments and accessorize them in ways my clients love to wear them and be photographed in because they deeply trust my taste level to deliver a perfect look for the occasion every single time. And sometimes they are surprised by what I pull because I gravitate towards non-obvious elements that take a look from “great” and “nice” to spectacular and unforgettable.
What do you think is the most essential item in every woman’s wardrobe?
My saying is I wear at least one piece of black leather eight days a week. From boots to a jacket to leather pants, black leather is the eternal definition of cool. When a new client entrusts me to start building their personal wardrobe, one of the first things we get is a cool leather jacket, either moto style with zippers or a more traditional silhouette they can wear with oversized trousers or just about any other bottom.
What trends are you loving right now?
I didn’t live through them but sometimes feel displaced in my generation as opposed to the 60’s-70’s. To me, nothing is more glamorous than oversized gradient sunglasses, neck scarves, thigh highs and sequined mini dresses. Everything Amy Adams wore in “American Hustle” gave me chills. And a great-fitting wool coat and pants for a guy are still hot to me.
The Gucci SS15 collection suggests the era is making another comeback in high fashion and I covet everything that walked down that runway. I am loving the swinging colorblock coats that are 60’s/70’s inspired from Prada FW15 and am also into Shrimps faux fur coats. A Shrimps coat can elevate a really simple look to be instantly cool while keeping you warm.
The military style we saw on SS15 runways also excite me. Marc Jacobs did a fine job of combining both retro with military in his signature aesthetic that I respect so much.
I often create looks for women that are a balance of femininity with masculinity – that is a signature of mine and a large part of my personal style. If the occasion lends itself, I add a touch of masculinity to tone down the feminine elements that make the look all the more sexy. A single military coat, patch, pant rips or combat boots can bring that to any look.
What's the best style advice you've received?
There are several style-isms that are good abiding advice, especially for stylists. One comes from the recently late Oscar de la Renta who said, “Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is about being yourself.”
The advice I have personally found most valuable is to take risks and avoid complacency
. Complacency is a killer of creativity for me as I prefer being stimulated with every passing day and project I work on.
I am easily bored so you will never observe me falling into patterns of reengineering predictable looks if you work with me. I get my kicks and thrills from trying new things that often surprise my audience and I. Nothing excites me more than evolving how to wear something by wearing it differently, adding layers or an accessory that takes the look to the next level and style that is beautiful, complete and, in turn, coveted.
Favorite Yummie by Heather Thomson piece(s)?
I love the Hannah Legging
for active wear, the Carine slip
in black and any/all of Yummie by HT bottoms
. The shapewear bottoms are often the secret weapon for my clients’ red carpet looks!
For more of Christina's looks check her out on Instagram at @christinajpacelli
(*Feature image courtesy of Isaac Matthew White Photography)