By just about anyone's estimation, Marcus Stewart has arrived in the fashion world. A celebrity stylist and reality TV star, the New Orleans native got his start working at Hemline. Here, he shares his story, along with styling tips, and the reasons why he wouldn't have had a fashion career if he'd lived anywhere else.
You're featured on the Bravo reality show Dukes of Melrose. What is the show about?
It's about the legendary consignment boutique Decades, which dresses all the big Hollywood stars in vintage looks for their red carpet events. The show follows my two bosses, Christos (Garkinos) and Cameron (Silver), who couldn't be more opposite. I'm the East Coast buyer, and I'm often showcased as being in the middle.
In addition to being a buyer, you're a trunk show coordinator for Decades, and you do image consulting. What tips do you have for women who want to incorporate vintage items into their wardrobe but aren't sure where to start?
Make sure you go shopping when you have time to try on things. If you're in a rush, you won't see what's in front of you. Always try on clothing with heels, because they totally change the situation. Heels do wonders for women. If you want to do vintage, you have to know your own body type: If you're an apple shape, find your waistline and cinch it in. An hourglass can wear more form-fitting things. A tall and skinny banana type can wear trapeze and sheath dresses, but you also want to draw attention to your waist. If you don't know your body, vintage is hard because you can't see what you need and nothing will seem like it fits. If you know your body shape, you know what to gravitate toward and you know what can be fixed with a tailor. Your tailor is your best friend. Have a vision beyond the clothing rack: envision a garment smaller here or let out here. Clothing is moldable art.
How would you describe your personal style?
I dress depending on how I'm feeling. One day I'm in all-black Dior and Balenciaga. Very edgy and structured. The next day I may feel very proper and gentleman-like, so I'll opt for classic labels such as Ralph Lauren and Hermes. ... I love experimenting with trends but I always make the look work for me. It's important for me to look timeless while still having fun with fashion.
You're a New Orleans native. How did you get your start in fashion in a city which wasn't known at the time for having a fashion scene?
One of my first introductions to fashion was working at Hemline. I modeled in (Hemline owner and creator) Brigitte (Holthausen)'s fashion show and I said, "This is such a cool environment. Maybe I can get a job working here." I worked my way up managing the men's and women's shoes sections and helping Brigitte do buys. I was only 16 at that point. That's when things really changed for me, and I said, "I can have a career in this." Prior to that, I never thought I could work in that field. I didn't know there was a life for me in fashion.
So your fashion career trajectory really started here.
If Brigitte hadn't given me those opportunities, I never would have worked in fashion. And then after Hurricane Katrina, I transferred to a high school in L.A., and Brigitte let me work in the boutique when I came home for holidays. That's a very New Orleanian thing to do, that she would keep the door open for me.
Anything else you want people to know?
Watch the show at 9:30 on Wednesday nights on Bravo. I'm styling PJ Morton from Maroon 5 and doing image consulting for individual women. I want people to know I'm here for the everyday woman. I want people to know New Orleans is not just the hurricane. There's so much talent there, and we are on the rise.