Monday, January 10, 2011

Inspired By: The Series

Back when I worked in New York, I remember hearing about an uber-talented assistant who was slowly rising through the ranks. Years later I found out she was assisting mega fashion personality Joe Zee at Elle. Then I saw her name at the bottom of Goop, styling none other than Gwyneth Paltrow in spring's must-haves. I figured she'd made it and then I saw that she'd helped style Elle's new book, The ELLEments of Personal Style. I mean do I really have to go on about how huge Annie Ladino is going to be? Read on as she details her journey and lets us in on what she's learned along the way.

(photo: courtesy of Annie Ladino)

Q) Official title
A) Fashion Stylist/Astrologer

Q) How did you start styling? (Get ready, this is amazing)
A) I would say this is a fairy tale story.  
Here I go:  January of 2001, a week before I moved to NY to study at F.I.T., my house burned down in a fire that started in my room.  I arrived in NY with a big red puffer coat a friend had given me, a couple pairs of jeans, and a few tshirts.  Since I'd put myself on the worst dressed list at school (and smelled of smoke), I called Nylon Magazine up within a few weeks of moving here and asked if they needed interns.  At Nylon, a production person called one day looking for a freelance stylist assistant and I took the job.  It turned out I was assisting Hedi Slimane on a Dior Homme campaign.  MAJOR!

Flash forward 4 years later after several internships and working as a freelance assistant (while I was in college and had a part time retail job), my very first friend I made in NY, Micah Johnson, called me to do market work for a Vanity Fair Cover shoot with Joe Zee.  I took the job and in between classes I was calling clothes in from the FIT computer lab. After that I continued working freelance for Joe. Six months after college, I went with him to Elle and worked as his assistant for 4 years.  People kept telling me to quit and go on my own but I knew in my heart that assisting Joe for a long time would be the best thing I could do.  He also felt like family to me so I really didn't want to leave. I'm not going to lie, it isn't easy working for a genius, but Joe's a great person and pushed me hard every day to be the best I could be.  I would say the biggest break in my career was having Joe take me under his wing.  And I have to say that what I've taken from working with him was not styling advice but invaluable life wisdom.  
But back to styling:  One day Becki Newton, formerly of Ugly Betty, was going to the Marc Jacobs show and Joe thought it would be cute if I would go meet her and help her get dressed for the event.  (sidenote: Joe used to call me Betty because he said I was a Hispanic fashion assistant with a heart of gold, but I secretly know it was because I went through a little plump phase. hehe)

We hit it off and had a really fun fashion week, and at the end of the week she asked me if she could be my first client.  
And voila! Here I am.  

Special shout outs and thanks to Micah Johnson, Sarah Schussheim, Stephanie Jones, Carter Smith, Marcy Engelman, Julia Roberts, Gwyneth and Eliza at Goop,  Harry Josh, Lydia Jakubowski, Thomas Whiteside, Sandy Kang,  Caitlin Weiskopf,  Carol Smith,  Mom,  Dad,  Karen and Louie and Joleen. 

Q) When styling, what is your signature aesthetic?
A) Well it depends. When styling a celeb, there is nothing more important than making someone feel good in what they're wearing.  Because if you feel good, you look good.  :)   Obvi!
When doing editorial, I want to evoke a feeling of passion and suggestion without giving it all away.  (Also, leopard is my favorite color and I try to use it wherever I can.)  
When doing advertising:  Make the client happy and give them whatever they want.  Just Kidding!!! (not really)

Q) How do you try and differentiate yourself and your work from other big name stylists? 
A) It's in development right now but I'm hoping to infuse every project I do going forward with a strong charitable aspect and ultimately be the foundation.  
For the record I think it's so cool to see young strong women like this on the rise, doing what they love and setting themselves apart from the old guard.

Q) How would you describe your own sense of style?
A) I like to call my style French Bohemian.  But since style, like information is always evolving, you might want to ask me again next season.  lol.  Translation? It's ok for it to be a work in progress!

Q) What shapes the way you dress?
A) Well I'm south american. Short, tight and sexy.  ;)

Q) Best fashion advice you ever received?
A) It's just fashion, you're not doing brain surgery!    All the more reason to take risks!

Q) Best fashion purchase ever made?
A) It's between my wrap around Hermes medor watch and my bmx.  
But if my house burned down again, I think I would grab my baby pictures that I've saved and restored from the last fire and my astrology books.

Q) Favorite designers and/or places to shop?
A) Favorite Designers:  Azzedine Alaia, Stella McCartney, DVF, Phoebe Philo, Stefano Pilati, Dolce & Gabbana. Favorite Brands: Zara, J.Crew, H&M, Isabel Marant, Helmut Lang -- Love the mix of high and low!  
Favorite vintage/resale: Tokyo 7 and NY Vintage.
Are you really trying to make me pick one?  That's like asking a mom to pick her favorite kid. :(

Q) Advice for young women trying to develop their own sense of style?
A) Will it sound cliche if I say HAVE FUN!?  Take risks, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, trust your heart, go with your gut, push yourself, challenge yourself, don't take yourself so seriously and finally the most important of all: STYLE your thoughts and live by the Golden Rule.  

Never heard it before but love it. Words to live by--and dress by. Stay tuned for even more fresh fashion faces.


  1. Love it. Thanks for telling us all her story.

  2. Annie is so inspirational, yet it's her kind, down-to-earth disposition that makes her the most popular girl in NYC.

    xo, lauren

  3. Annie is an inspiration to all women, especially our Latinas!