In a field full of glitz and glamour, Celebrity Stylist and Director Sophia Banks has not only garnered an impressive resume, she’s taking her years of experience and moving forward with new and exciting adventures in the world of storytelling through fashion.
Originally from Australia, the now LA based Banks says her love for fashion began at a young age. By seven years old she had her hands on a copy of Vogue and despite the fact she didn’t grow up surrounded by designer labels, knew it was where she was headed.
With a degree in both fashion and business, the future entrepreneur began her career as a stylist in Australia after living briefly in New York City. “I missed America so much and I knew I needed to come back,” says Banks. “I came to Los Angeles for two weeks, thought it was a cool place, and while I didn’t know anyone I thought, let me give it a shot.”
With a sixth sense for seeing trends before they hit, Banks has found success in a myriad of areas; from owning her own boutique, creating a clothing line, helping brands like Rebecca Minkoff launch their own line, to styling some of the biggest names in Hollywood (think Priyanka Chopra, Nicole Richie, Cameron Diaz, Gwen Stefani, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Kristen Chenowith, and Rachel Zoe), Banks is now stepping behind the camera to bring her creative visions to life.
1. You create not only a look but an image for your clients; what is that process like?
I’ve been doing this a long time and for me it’s a very detailed process. I spend a lot of time with the client discovering who they are, what type of career they want to have, how they want to be perceived to the public. Next, we create vision and mood boards to get a sense of the style they’re looking to achieve and then focus on bringing that out. It is as much strategic as it is executional.
2. You are responsible for creating actress Priyanka Chopra’s look. How did the collaboration come about?
We met at a shoot and her publicist asked if I wanted to start working with her. She had just come to the states so it was about building her up here and I was able to be a part of that journey. When it comes to styling you should have a clear understanding of both design and marketing. I had a vision of what I wanted to do with her and thankfully everyone agreed. As we built up her image, I also built a great friendship along the way; I love and adore her.
4. You created a huge buzz with Priyanka’s 2016 Oscar’s dress; how did it feel when your vision became such a huge success?
It felt amazing! But there is a lot of work that goes into moments like that. It can take many years to figure out what works and what doesn’t and when it works it’s nice to have those acknowledgments.
5.You’ve said that when you first saw the dress you knew it was “the one.” How can you tell?
It’s an instinct and based off of years of knowledge and experience. I can go into a place that has 150 dresses and pick the top three that the client would chose themselves. It’s knowing cuts, body types, shapes, tone – it’s possible to get there but that’s based off thousands and thousands of hours of experience. As an entrepreneur, I think anyone can be good at anything, it just depends on how many hours of work you want to put in. I am always learning and staying on top of my craft.
6. While it’s exciting to have these stand out moments, have you experienced times when you thought things might not go off as planned?
Absolutely! I always say high risk, high return. You’re playing a big game dressing someone for the Oscars. Whether you do it well or not people are going to know about it. The day of the show we were fixing the lining of Priyanka’s dress just hours before the carpet.
I’ve had instances where shoes break right before show time so you must be prepared for the worst and have backup plans in place. I am very calm under pressure and to do this job I think you have to be a problem solver. Between my assistant and I we have every scenario covered; we’re ready for anything.
Sophia Banks(R) and Jessica Gomes(L)
7. Your success as a stylist and a designer has opened up a whole new area for you as a director. How have you married the two together?
I’ve been conceptualizing campaign shoots for years and it’s something I’m good at. At one of these shoots someone I was working with suggested I explore directing. It’s actually something I’ve always wanted to do. I took night classes to brush up (I went to film school at 19) and began shooting fashion campaigns for brands like BMW, Ford, Christian Siriano. Pam & Gela, Cheeky Plates for Target, and right now I’m working on new spots for Anine Bing and TOME.
I love creating beautiful things and with directing I not only get to style the talent but conceptualize and tell a story. I never expected my career to go in this direction.
Everything I’ve done up until now makes sense; it’s the next step for me and for fashion. There’s a shift in the world of fashion; they’re changing the way in which they reach their audience. Video content is an important and powerful way in communicating with an audience.
8. What do you love about your career?
I love to create – whether it’s an idea for an Oscar gown or a story for a campaign, it’s about taking an idea and turning it into a psychical thing. For me, that’s an amazing feeling.
Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!