WARDROBE DRESSER, BRONX
Possessing an assassinous sense of style while exhibiting the utmost amount of poise, wardrobe dresser Krystle Rodriguez is someone my ever-creative generation would describe as ‘#goals.’ Hashtag included. Hailing from the Bronx, New York, Rodriguez planted a seed prematurely within herself and drowned out the negative distractions around her. From that seed, grew a purpose. A purpose that would eventually allow her to explore the world and use today’s most iconic artists and their crews as her canvases. And by iconic artists, I mean Madonna, Usher, Pink, Josh Groban, Taylor Swift and most recently, Pharrell. Now that is a highly covetable occupation if we’ve ever seen one. However don’t be fooled, it took hard work to get there and a great deal of it, at that.
Rodriguez is in charge of much more than styling. She goes on tour and works with musicians and costume designers to choose the right fabrics, in addition to making sure that each costume is durable enough to last and is properly constructed. With her early beginnings as an intern for fashion heavyweight June Ambrose, it’s no surprise that she’s evolved into a certified sartorial whiz. On top of that, her personal style has influenced us to pretty much abandon our comfort zones—all while rocking a red lip. Rodriguez effortlessly integrates electrifying elements in her daily wardrobe choices as she borrows—gracefully—from the boys.
As this multidimensional woman navigates the world, you can be assured that she’s always ready to work. Rodriguez dished on not giving up, what her career entails, working with Pharrell and so much more. As per our conversation, her acquisitive nature richly spills from the inside, out.
Krav: Since the beginning, did your interests lie in fashion? Or was it a gradual realization throughout your years in jr high and high school?
Krystle: It was definitely like a gradual realization. I would say not until high school did I realize fashion was something that I was interested in. I was always interested in clothing and dressing but honestly I never thought of fashion as a route to take for a career. It just sorta happened. After high school I made the mistake of wanting to take a year off of college, got a job and when you start making money it’s hard to give that up. So, I think after getting a job, after high school is when I definitely realized maybe fashion was the route.
And did your parents support that goal of yours when you transitioned into wanting to work in fashion?
Not in the beginning. My parents were more like go to school, get a regular job. But you know, after the fact they were super supportive.
You won a contest that granted you an internship with stylist, Emily B. What are some key fundamentals that you took from that experience?
Definitely to be organized, to always be on time. When you intern and when you’re assisting someone, you’re basically in charge of their life, their career and all of that other crazy stuff. So you just have to have an eye for detail. Be very organized, because at any moment they can ask you for something and you have to deliver right then and there. If not, then it’ll be a problem or you know when you’re on set and you’re looking for a specific piece of clothing or shoe and you don’t know where it is, it makes you look bad.
Your answer was perfect for going in to my next question because I realized that some of my peers have a very different idea of how to become successful. A lot of them feel entitled to things they haven’t really worked for. So, what's your advice to the current generation of interns, who seemingly have an uncommon idea of the route to success?
I think with that it has a lot to do with how you were brought up. For me, I don’t come from a rich family so I didn’t have my mom and my dad to support me when I was interning, trying to assist and stuff like that. So I feel like the sense of entitlement comes from your upbringing. But I would definitely say some advice is to take what you want to do and work hard towards it. Sometimes what you set out to do in the beginning is not what you end up doing. Which is completely fine, because on the way you figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Definitely, just work hard and don’t give up. I was at a moment where I almost gave up and if I would’ve gave up I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. I feel like social media can either be a gift or a curse too. You have to present yourself in a certain manner in order for people to perceive you in the correct way. A lot of people don’t realize that their behavior on these social networks will affect them in the long run.
And, you were saying that you were at a point where you wanted to give up. What can you attribute to you, you know, still pushing forward?
Your relationships are everything. I think at the moment where I wanted to give up, because I built so many strong relationships, that’s kept me from not quitting. Just being able to you know, reach out to people for advice. That kept me going and it also kept me working.
You're a wardrobe dresser, not a wardrobe stylist. Contrary to popular belief, the two are different. Can you give me a breakdown of what you do as a wardrobe dresser?
If an artist is going out on tour, and they have a bunch of different shows in different places, what a wardrobe dresser comes in and does is them help build a functional, traveling wardrobe department. They work hand in hand with either the costume designer or the wardrobe stylist, [they handle] the construction of the clothing, fabrics [and] finishing so that each costume lasts for the length of the time that the tour is gonna be on the road. And then basically, when the show is on the road, a wardrobe dresser helps to maintain the costumes. Sometimes an artist has changes done in the show, we assist them doing that. [It’s about] being there to make sure the show goes on without a hitch.
Wow, so you’re kinda like a superwoman.
In a way because when you’re out on the road it’s a lot of responsibilities. A costume designer or stylist, they’re there for a short amount of time but a wardrobe dresser, they’re basically there to pick up the pieces.
And being that you interned in styling, how did you transition and know that wardrobe dressing was your thing?
So, it was at the point where I was ready to give up and be like I don’t wanna do this anymore. Honestly, it wasn’t something that I even knew existed. I basically got a job to do valet work for an artist and then the artist was like “Oh you wanna come on the road with me?” and I’m like you want me to travel around the world with you? Absolutely! We were on the road and there was a wardrobe department that I knew nothing about. I engulfed myself into this world and I tried to learn everything possible. I built relationships and it was kinda, sorta history from there.
You travel a lot. In what ways has your travel influenced your creative technique?
Honestly, it has influenced me tremendously. It’s such a blessing to be able to travel to all of these different places and to see a bunch of different cultures. I try to incorporate whatever I learn from everywhere I visit not even just creatively but just like into my everyday life.
You've been touring with Pharrell most recently. Aside from curating a functional wardrobe for him and his team, what is the most exciting part about touring with such a visionary?
The whole experience has actually been the best experience of my career so far. When I first came on, everyone welcomed me with open arms. He’s such an amazing human being. Forget the artist, forget all of that stuff, just in general . . . he’s an amazing human being. Being able to be around sometimes when he’s making music or making decisions it’s amazing. Sometimes like he’ll come up to you and have random conversation. It’s just been a complete blessing.
Trends are always cool. But if there's anything I've learned, it's that classics being reinvented is even cooler. What are some of your favorite classics and how do you incorporate them into your style choices?
Whenever I shop for myself now as an adult I shop for classic cuts. The biker jacket . . the trouser. When I shop I think “Will I be able to wear this when I’m 70 years old?” “How will this transition in the next five years?” When I used to intern for June Ambrose she always used to say: Pull with purpose. Now whenever I shop I think of that, I always have to shop with purpose.
I couldn't help but notice red lipstick is a staple of yours. What is it about the hue that attracts you so much?
My complexion is so fair that, I just feel like it’s the best shade for my complexion. And sometimes my looks are so masculine, it gives that girly touch that I need. I know nothing about makeup, the red lipstick is the most daring thing I think I’d ever do.
What has been the most fulfilling part about following your dreams thus far?
Being able to see the world, being able to be around and work with such creative people. That’s been the best part about it so far.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Andre Gray