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New York Called Christine De Lassus

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into Christine De Lassus's downtown apartment were her posters from Chanel's The Little Black Jacket opening party the night before. Of course, this is just one special event of many that Christine has attended throughout her career as a stylist, which began when she was just under 20 years old.Christine grew up in Paris, France and specialized in mathematics and physics with hopes of a profession in architecture. She later attended business school and landed an internship with an advertising agency that would become her meal ticket to the sweet (sometimes sour) world of styling. During her internship she assisted the creative director and spent time a lot of time with the photographer's agent, who ended up recruiting Christine as a stylist.Since childhood Christine was obsessed with fashion, which made the transition into styling pretty easy. "I guess it was in my blood," Christine told me, "It's the eye and the taste. I just started without having any idea what it was." Her love of fashion partnered with her rebellious nature found her breaking the rules as a young girl. "I was in a religious school and we had uniforms with white socks but I was always fighting for colored socks and fighting the system so girls could wear pants." For Christine these tactics worked and it might be the reason she especially favors designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel who didn't just make great clothes but made life better for women." After all," she explained, "YSL put the woman in pants and Chanel took her out of the corset. They liberated the female and put a stamp on civilization."The photographer's agent who got Christine into styling around the age of 20 was associated with the elite and introduced Christine to some amazing photographers. She became romantically involved with one photographer who ended up moving her with him to New York for work. She was 21 when she was luxuriously introduced to the big city. Upon arrival she resided with this photographer in a big loft in the Chelsea Hotel which neighbored a brilliant pianist who was often spotted walking his pet skunk. "It was a nuthouse, but a creative nuthouse!" Christine said of New York and the people she met in the early 1980's.For Christine, one thing was clear, "The one idea I had after living in New York for a bit was that I wanted to remain in America. It was a place of freedom." In New York her styling career began with advertising for various campaigns including L'oreal, where she had the pleasure of working with the great photographer Irving Penn. She described working with Penn as the big break in her career. "He was such a hero to me and such a wonderful man. He just knew what he was doing and it never took long for him to get the shot he needed."Aside from L'oreal, Christine worked for brands like Elizabeth Arden and Estee Lauder as well as other famous photographers like Steven Klein. She enjoyed advertising campaigns but it wasn't until she started working with Spanish Vogue that she fell in love with editorial. Her passion for editorial came at a really tough period in New York however. The late 1980's were depressing for foreigners and the streets became saturated by drug dealers and crime. When Christine first moved to New York in the early 80's it was even a little dangerous but she mentioned, "It gave a little edge to life!" She recalls playing a game with the photographer she moved to New York with originally. "I wanted to walk up ahead of him to appear by myself and see what would happen--this was on 57th and 5th street! Can you imagine?"In 1990, however, the New York streets became unmanageable and Christine decided to move back to Paris for a bit to pursue her love of editorial and get a break from the city. Back in Paris her styling career really took off with magazines like French Elle. She stayed in Paris for 7 years living a fantastic life with a wonderful boyfriend and beautiful scenery until the late 1990's when she decided to return to New York. She has been here ever since.She and her boyfriend split and she re-established her life in the Big Apple. While life was glamourous in Paris and filled with time off and constant holiday's, she didn't want that life. In New York people are just so optimistic, and who needs a holiday when you are young? When you are young--life's a holiday!" So she continued work as a stylist and she continues with this profession to this day.Styling is definitely different now than it used to be. "Back then there were less people doing the same thing but now everyone who knows how to dress themselves considers themselves a stylist. When I started there were a handful, maybe 40 stylists and now there are over 4,000." Aside from a saturated market, the creative process of styling has tremendously shifted. Styling is orchestrated by advertising. If a brand buys advertisements they expect to have their product featured in the main editorial. Creativity to choose garments etc., used to lie in the hands of the stylist and now stylists must find creativity with clothes that are imposed. She periodically questions styling these days but aside from freelance she works with StyleZeitgeist magazine. While this magazine provides a creative outlet it is underground and only prints once every 6 months.Unmarried and without children (aside from her dog Champ, who she considered her child until he passed) I had to ask Christine if she feels like she sacrificed a personal life for all the traveling associated with her career as a stylist. She doesn't regret it and she doesn't look back. Throughout my entire interview with Christine she radiated this positive and freeing energy. I don't know if it was the satisfaction and joy she has gained after traveling to places like Brazil, Japan, Jamaica, South Africa, etc. that gave her this glow (souvenirs from her travels are pictured above), but she has clearly lived her life right and is evidently happy. In fact, upon the close of our interview she got what appeared to be an important phone call. When she got off she turned and pronounced, "I am accepted to buy my apartment! I am here forever!" Her moment of joy became mine as I shared in her excitement.

One of the greatest things about New York City is the struggle that makes you truly appreciate resulting rewards. You struggle to commute to work, struggle to pay your bills, struggle to convince a landlord to let you buy your apartment. Seeing Christine literally leap for joy at the chance to call her place her own was truly a special moment and one day I hope to revel in the same joy...

You can see images of some of Christine's work here, and make sure to follow her on the Busy Signal.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Meta says:

    I do agree with you knowing Christine that she radiates positive and freeing energy always plus she is very good as a stylist, better it can’t be!
    and compliments for this article on Tha Busy Signal… Meta

  2. proietti387 says:

    I have known christine for many years and followed her career since day one, i have also loved and admired her work and as far as i am concerned she is not only very creative but her talents have always ecceded my expectations she is brilliant! You go girl!!!!

  3. proietti387 says:

    P.s her spirituality gives her the glow and positive energy she makes a point to maintain at all time.
    her will is of steel

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