three models running outside on the grass in a field

Visual Communications Instructor Camila Smith is a Professional Fashion Stylist For Top Brands

Ten years ago Camila Smith started as an assistant with Nordstrom. Now a professional fashion stylist, her roster of clients includes not only Nordstrom, but Coach, Macy’s, Adidas, REI, Target, and Nike, among many others. She has grown to style Nordstrom designer collaborations and most recently styled their anniversary sale campaign. Last year, Camila joined the Visual Communications faculty at FIDM teaching two courses: Fashion Styling and Environment Styling. “I love teaching these classes and helping my students get jobs in the industry," she said. "It truly makes me happy!” We caught up with her to learn more about what it takes to become a fashion stylist and what she loves about teaching at FIDM.

Describe your teaching philosophy: My teaching philosophy is simple; I do what I can to emulate the industry in my classroom. I want every one of my students to have an opportunity to succeed; the industry is tough and fast paced so if I can prepare them just a little bit I feel like I have given them that extra edge to make a lasting impression when they go for their first job!
What do you enjoy most about teaching? I love connecting with my students; I love following them on Instagram and seeing their progress and how great they are doing. I love to inspire them to go after what they want and teach them about confidence. They are capable of anything, especially with an education and experience from FIDM.
What is your favorite class project? I love the final portfolio project for my styling class. The students create a photoshoot that includes a series of three images for a brand. My students are so creative and think out of the box; it’s incredible to see what they come up with quarter after quarter!

model holding a large yellow ball standing outside in a field
Walk us through a typical day of shooting: There is no typical day of shooting, that’s why it’s so fun! Haha! But if I had to round up shooting to a typical day, you arrive to the set really early, set up and organize all the garments and looks for the day. After everything is hung up and organized you prep the clothes by steaming and ironing them and fitting them on the model. Once the model is through hair and makeup, the styling team dresses the model and takes them out to set. Throughout the shoot day it’s our responsibility to make sure the clothes look good and translate to the story of the shoot. Once we are done shooting we collect the clothes and return them from where we sourced them. Every shoot is different and exciting! 

two female models wearing sweaters laying on the ground
What are some of the qualities that make a good fashion stylist? There are various qualities, but I would say organized, determined, passionate, and confident! 

two models standing outside wearing patchwork blazers
How do you cope with the pressures of the job, especially when the client is difficult? Every job is difficult in its own way, sometimes you have to give up creative control and let things roll off your back. You have to choose your battles and be someone that the client can count on when things go haywire. There is a lot of pressure on stylists to perform, everything is needed now and there is never any time to complete all the tasks that are asked of you. This is when a great team comes into play, you can’t do it alone!

model jumping outside with yellow balloons
What kind of prep work do you do ahead of the shoot day? There is tons of prep work that leads up to a shoot; understanding the concept of the shoot is the most important. You have to be on the same page as your art director, client, and photographer. After you are clear on the concept and character development, you have to start hunting for the looks with your team. Once you source garments, accessories, etc., you present them to the creative team and get them to sign off. The hunt for the perfect looks is what takes time, diligence, and creativity. 

model laying in a field of flowers covering her eyes with her hands
How do you stay organized on a shoot? I have a great team that’s worked with me for a very long time. We are all extremely organized and take pride in keeping all of the looks intact and looking better than when we got them. Organization is what keeps the shoot going smoothly!

male model holding his arm in the air
What are some of the things you use most in your styling kit? A steamer, a clothing rack and my small onset styling kit that includes scissors, sewing kit, double sided tape, safety pins and a lint roller. I don’t even take that kit out of my car; I always need it!
Are any of your current or former students getting experience in the field as stylists, as interns, assistants, etc.? Yes! So many of them have internships with celebrity stylists, set designers, and prop stylists. It’s really incredible to see the opportunity they have just from attending FIDM. The instructors that teach here have so many connections to the industry and the students that connect with their teachers are the ones that get the opportunities to hop into those assistant roles when they open up!
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about pursuing fashion styling? Work hard! It’s going to be tough, and there are times when you’ll doubt yourself, but if you keep working hard, a door will open for you. You have to believe that! Speak what you want into existence; tell anyone who will listen—the more you say it, the more opportunity you will make for yourself! 
Anything else you'd like to share? I love working at FIDM, the environment and energy is exciting! It’s so fun to give back to the students and see them achieve their dreams!
Keep up with Camila Smith on Instagram @camila_dominique.

Categories:  Visual Communication Faculty