Wonderland.

SOLANGE FRANKLIN REED

We’ve teamed up with the British Fashion Council on “How To Become”, a video series spotlighting careers in fashion.

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for

Janelle Monáe/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for
Janelle Monáe/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed

Introducing our brand new video series “How To Become”, spotlighting only the most innovative and boundary-pushing names in fashion. We’ve teamed up with the British Fashion Council to explore careers in fashion and their unusual trajectories, with trailblazing talent interviewed by Wonderland’s Editor-in-Chief Toni-Blaze.

First we had Bulgarian photographer Bogdan Plakov. Next up, stylist Solange Franklin Reed, who has styled everyone from Serena Williams, to Whoopi Goldberg and Solange Knowles.

Watch the interview now, or read a shortened version of the interview below…

To everyone watching, welcome to the “How to Become” with the British Fashion Council and Wonderland magazine. My name is Toni Ibekwe and I’m Editor-in-chief of Wonderland and I’m joined by the gorgeous, the talented BFC New Wave creative stylist Solange Franklin Reed. Where did you grow up and how did it influence you?
I grew up in the middle of the country, Des Moines, Iowa. That’s the closest big city of Chicago for folks who aren’t from the US. And growing up for me was, I mean, mostly really good. I felt protected, I felt like I could explore creative avenues, but that they weren’t ever going to lead to a career in creativity. And so I think it was moving to the East Coast, closer to New York, that made me realise that this was something that you can get paid to do and that you don’t have to be Van Gogh. And actually, Simon Doonan and I once sat next him at a dinner and he was like, all the best people in fashion come from crap towns. And I would never call where I come from a crap town but he was like just the idea of like we’re the dreamers we’re the people that want to push and really want to be there. And so I think that helped me, yeah, foster wanting to be a part of something bigger.

How did it feel taking that leap, maybe assisting then moving onto like something bigger?
I was terrified, first of all. I went from like a very clear schedule of how to succeed, which is medicine, it’s like I tell you exactly what to do, the prerequisite courses than the next 14 years of your life are mapped out, which is kind of reassuring for some folks. And I think I, myself included. And so making a switch to fashion, it was like I did a lot of research, I talked to a lot of people, I mean, I’ll show my age, it was like the start of blogs and the internet and people talking about how they made it. And so hearing multiple people’s stories, and reading Eva Chen’s profile, I think, on the Teen Vogue blog that I was like, oh, she has a similar background to me and she’s making it. And it’s glitz and glam, but there’s also meaning behind that.

Do you have any, like, early early memories of fashion as a child that you always think about?
Ok so because I’m from Iowa, which is near farms but not on farms. I feel like I’ll just always have an affinity for overalls. I’d wear my little overalls as a tomboy, but then I would make sure I had, like, ruffle underwear underneath or something. So it was always about a hidden message and pushing the boundaries of just what people expected of you. I mean, my earliest memories, I think of how I got into the idea of experimenting with fashion was thrifting, that’s how I could afford to shop and think about, you know, agency and like, just try on something crazy from the 40s mixed with something from the 90s and see how that looks on you and it costs five dollars. And so, you know, the idea of accessibility and experimentation. I feel like are kind of my fondest memories.

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for
Wonderland teams up with the BFC for

Serena Williams/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed
Solange Knowles/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for
Serena Williams/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed
Wonderland teams up with the BFC for
Solange Knowles/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed

What were your early inspirations?
I think going back to my Iowa roots, and magazine imagery, just being, like, plastered all over my walls. Trying to think of who was on there, it was mostly about like the Lauryn Hills, like Lauryn Hill or BOB or Honey magazine. I was obsessed with Missy Elliott, and then I came to find out later that June Ambrose was behind that imagery. But yes, so anyways, I felt like the images that were on my wall were like Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, and the stylists that I found out later that I admired were like June Ambrose, Nisa Hilton, Adata Jones. I didn’t know she was behind, you know, so much of the Tommy Hilfiger imagery or Aaliyah imagery, and, you know, I’m from the Midwest so baby girl was everything. And yes may she rest in peace.

So in terms of the British Fashion Council’s New Wave Creatives 2019 – how does it feel to have an accolade like that connected to your career?
It’s so humbling and I feel like that’s just the highest form of praise. I think that what any of us could want is to be respected by your peers, and I think that that’s one of my few and only goals. It just makes you feel very seen, and I appreciate that.

What do you love about your job?
I mean, the fashion, the glitz, the glam. But I really love the collaboration and the people I’ve met from all over the world. That’s what I miss about Fashion Week and getting to travel, and, you know, shooting London. Even if you work for somebody one time in the desert in New Mexico, you forged a bond forever and forever. And then you have that picture that lives on forever that hopefully you like. But at the very least, you have the experience and it held a beautiful moment for you.

What was one of your earlier standout editorials?
I’m not great at looking back, but a shoot that I’ve been thinking about, even just in quarantine, is my Africa Rising shoot, which was like when I first went on my own and it was with a Ajag Dan and Maria Borgias and I shot designers from the diaspora, you know, before that was a hashtag. Yes, glitz glam but also to centre women and people of colour and underrepresented minorities that’s why I do what I do.

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for
Wonderland teams up with the BFC for

(RIGHT) Whoopi Goldberg/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for
Whoopi Goldberg/Styled by Solange Franklin Reed
Wonderland teams up with the BFC for

What’s your top styling kit tip?
First of all, you need to take aside an assistant and be like, tell me everything that’s in your kit because they should have a little list, but I’d say for sure you’d need are your double sided tape and safety pins. And then like a more secret tool would be like a hole punch that you use for an extra hole and in belts and shoes, because those models have skinny ankles.

What do you love about London and London Fashion Week?
As New Yorkers, we just have, like, unbridled love for London because y’all are, like, uninhibited, you embrace your artistry. I love New York, I love our designers, but I feel like we are more economically-motivated. It’s just the vibrancy that we always talk about that London has that is like a slight renegade, but true to heritage, I guess, whatever that is like, if that’s your Nigerian heritage. I just feel like. Yeah, you guys embrace yourselves and I appreciate that.

How you feel the future of fashion shows is going to go?
I definitely don’t have a crystal ball and I think that will hopefully be more just tech-centric. But I feel like the democratisation that people have experienced in terms of witnessing shows. I don’t think that that can go anywhere, especially now like post pandemic, just like people. And so I think broadcasting like I think I’m excited to see what happens with Digital Fashion Week.

How do you feel the industry is changing in terms of diversity?
I think we’re going to see accountability, I think we’re going to see coalitions. I think that’s the future of fashion. And I think that there’s an unstoppable force right now where people are motivated, people are have been provided more access because we started with representation, and then we have moved to inclusion and there’s a huge difference in power structure, and like, who has access and who can shift or shake the table. And so I think that people who now have a seat at the table are ready to make sure we don’t get lost and I think that it’s a time to rebuild and when you have figures and systems where the typically privileged folks are no longer benefiting, it leaves room for change and I just hope that we move in a way that, yeah, just truly inclusive and is not, yeah, it’s just motivating.

In terms of like other creative mediums, would you ever explore anything else?
I think the closest thing would be costume design. I think that’s an opportunity to delve into like a long term project, because so many of our projects, people don’t know, might have a lifeline of two weeks or two days. And I think it’d be really fun to sit at a writer’s table and have like six months to develop wardrobe or something like that. That’s something I haven’t done.

What are your hopes for your career and the future?
I think my future hopes just kind of ties back to my intention for everything. And you know, what motivates me to do what I do? And I think that I just want to be remembered and I want to be worthy of the people that I feel that I serve. And, you know, again, that’s underrepresented communities and women and people of colour, and that’s who I’m here for. So I want to make us proud.

What advice would you give to like any creatives that are kind of watching? And kind of now feel a bit hesitant to be like taking that step into maybe fashion or into styling or whatever.
Financials in order, mental health in order, just a preparedness. But I think I graduated during the Great Recession and I felt like a lesson that I learnt at that time was if nothing is secure, you might as well go for what you love and what makes you happy. So prepare yourself for that road and you can pivot later.

And on that note I’m going to say thank you so much. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
Thank you. I appreciate you.

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for

Solange Franklin Reed (pictured)

Wonderland teams up with the BFC for
Solange Franklin Reed (pictured)
Custom zoom background
Milan Miladinov
Video edit & graphics
Joseph O'Brien @sixtysixtytwo
Interview
Toni-Blaze Ibekwe
SOLANGE FRANKLIN REED

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