Catrina Chen, Editorial Stylist
Name: Catrina Chen (@catrinaalynna)
Zodiac Sign: Cancer
"Fashion is something I've always grown up around. My mom is very fashionable and so is her mom. But, my parents really wanted me to study engineering or dentistry. What really pushed me into this direction was my older brother who is a designer and has his own brand. I went to visit him in Berlin one year, just before I went to university, and he showed me everything that was out there. He took me to fashion shows, and brand head offices which allowed me to really immerse myself into this culture and gave me the courage to pursue it."
We had the pleasure of visiting Cat at her downtown apartment, chatting about things like her passion for art, finding her path in the fashion industry and everything in between. She's worked on many styling projects for several brands and is now an Editorial Stylist for a Canadian based jewellery brand that empowers women to buy jewellery for themselves.
How did you start your career as an Editorial stylist?
I actually met the founder of the company when I was in university. They had just started their company and she was looking for someone to do their creative work at the time. I applied and got the position. When I first started, I did everything from photography to graphic design and content creation. She gave me the freedom to do what I wanted which helped me figure out what I liked and what I was good at. I'm so grateful for that.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and what your day to day looks like?
A typical day would be creating mood boards to working with models and coordinating wardrobes. I would have wardrobe meetings and seek style partnerships with other brands. I spend most of my days in the office planning, and when I'm not in the office, I'm either on set or doing style pulls.
Where do you usually find inspiration?
Honestly, it could come from anywhere. The other day, I was at a crosswalk near a school and saw the crossing guard wearing these really thick gold hoop earrings and a tuque and I thought 'He looks like a pirate'. Then, I started thinking about what pirates wear and creating these pirate inspired outfits in my head. haha. The thought process just helps me think outside of the box.
For me, it also really depends on the persona I'm trying to create and the narrative I'm trying to tell. I think that's the most fascinating thing about being a stylist.
"I'm able to find my own personal aesthetic through my own script and not based on trend driven ideas."
How would you describe your personal style?
Right now, I'm wearing a lot of black and lots of layers since it's super cold in Toronto. I'm also really into blazers right now. But, I can't really describe my style because it's not just one thing.
When I was working in retail, I was influenced by trends because I was constantly around it. At one point, I went through a tassel phase. I had tops with tassels, pants with tassels. It was a lot. haha. But now, I find that I'm able to find my own personal aesthetic through my own script and not based on trend driven ideas.
What are your top 3 go-to pieces right now?
I would say a blazer, oversized t-shirt and a slip dress. I feel like this look can take you anywhere. Also, a really good tailored pant.
What do you love the most about what you do?
I love being on set. It really challenges me in a way where I have to be able to improvise and problem solve if something isn't working. There are times when the narrative I'm trying to tell doesn't translate and it forces me to make on the spot adjustments.
I also love the collaborative aspect of it. Being able to work with talented photographers, and diverse models.
What was the best advice you were given?
Never wash your hands until the job is done.
That's very much a mantra that my entire family lives by. We're from Jamaica and we "came from poor", as they always say. We've worked for everything we have. So, anytime I'm taking on a new project, I hear that saying in my head. For me, that's a driving force to get things done.
What do you do in your past time?
I love going to museums which is why I love to travel. I love art and art history was my favourite course in school. There are so many parallels that you can draw between art and different industries like fashion.
One of my favourite artist is Mark Rothko. I also like Eugène Delacroix. I went to the Louvre last year and saw an exhibit there. I feel like many people would recognize his work because it's been engrained in our culture. But, when you finally see his work in person, it's a really emotional experience. His paintings are a documentation of human history.
Favourite places to shop in the city?
VSP Consignment, COS, and vintage stores like Chosen, Common Sort.
Your current favourite restaurants in Toronto?
I love Piano Piano and Sotto Sotto for Italian. Chabrol is a cute french restaurant tucked away in Yorkville, and Paris Paris for the wine.