By Alexandra Anastasio
In a field full of glitz and glamour, Celebrity Stylist and Director Sophia Banks has not only garnered an impressive resume, she’s taking her years of experience and moving forward with new and exciting adventures in the world of storytelling through fashion.
Originally from Australia, the now LA based Banks says her love for fashion began at a young age. By seven years old she had her hands on a copy of Vogue and despite the fact she didn’t grow up surrounded by designer labels, knew it was where she was headed.
With a degree in both fashion and business, the future entrepreneur began her career as a stylist in Australia after living briefly in New York City. “I missed America so much and I knew I needed to come back,” says Banks. “I came to Los Angeles for two weeks, thought it was a cool place, and while I didn’t know anyone I thought, let me give it a shot.”
With a sixth sense for seeing trends before they hit, Banks has found success in a myriad of areas; from owning her own boutique, creating a clothing line, helping brands like Rebecca Minkoff launch their own line, to styling some of the biggest names in Hollywood (think Priyanka Chopra, Nicole Richie, Cameron Diaz, Gwen Stefani, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Kristen Chenowith, and Rachel Zoe), Banks is now stepping behind the camera to bring her creative visions to life.
1. You create not only a look but an image for your clients; what is that process like?
I’ve been doing this a long time and for me it’s a very detailed process. I spend a lot of time with the client discovering who they are, what type of career they want to have, how they want to be perceived to the public. Next, we create vision and mood boards to get a sense of the style they’re looking to achieve and then focus on bringing that out. It is as much strategic as it is executional.
2. You are responsible for creating actress Priyanka Chopra’s look. How did the collaboration come about?
We met at a shoot and her publicist asked if I wanted to start working with her. She had just come to the states so it was about building her up here and I was able to be a part of that journey. When it comes to styling you should have a clear understanding of both design and marketing. I had a vision of what I wanted to do with her and thankfully everyone agreed. As we built up her image, I also built a great friendship along the way; I love and adore her.
3. You created a huge buzz with Priyanka’s 2016 Oscar’s dress; how did it feel when your vision became such a huge success?
It felt amazing! But there is a lot of work that goes into moments like that. It can take many years to figure out what works and what doesn’t and when it works it’s nice to have those acknowledgments.
4. You’ve said that when you first saw the dress you knew it was “the one.” How can you tell?
It’s an instinct and based off of years of knowledge and experience. I can go into a place that has 150 dresses and pick the top three that the client would chose themselves. It’s knowing cuts, body types, shapes, tone – it’s possible to get there but that’s based off thousands and thousands of hours of experience. As an entrepreneur, I think anyone can be good at anything, it just depends on how many hours of work you want to put in. I am always learning and staying on top of my craft.
5. While it’s exciting to have these stand out moments, have you experienced times when you thought things might not go off as planned?
Absolutely! I always say high risk, high return. You’re playing a big game dressing someone for the Oscars. Whether you do it well or not people are going to know about it. The day of the show we were fixing the lining of Priyanka’s dress just hours before the carpet.
I’ve had instances where shoes break right before show time so you must be prepared for the worst and have backup plans in place. I am very calm under pressure and to do this job I think you have to be a problem solver. Between my assistant and I we have every scenario covered; we’re ready for anything.
6. Your success as a stylist and a designer has opened up a whole new area for you as a director. How have you married the two together?
I’ve been conceptualizing campaign shoots for years and it’s something I’m good at. At one of these shoots someone I was working with suggested I explore directing. It’s actually something I’ve always wanted to do. I took night classes to brush up (I went to film school at 19) and began shooting fashion campaigns for brands like BMW, Ford, Christian Siriano. Pam & Gela, Cheeky Plates for Target, and right now I’m working on new spots for Anine Bing and TOME.
I love creating beautiful things and with directing I not only get to style the talent but conceptualize and tell a story. I never expected my career to go in this direction.
Everything I’ve done up until now makes sense; it’s the next step for me and for fashion. There’s a shift in the world of fashion; they’re changing the way in which they reach their audience. Video content is an important and powerful way in communicating with an audience.
7. What do you love about your career?
I love to create – whether it’s an idea for an Oscar gown or a story for a campaign, it’s about taking an idea and turning it into a psychical thing. For me, that’s an amazing feeling.