Interview: The Face's Legendary Stylist Talks Dressing Supermodels And Celebrities

By Fawnia Soo Hoo

Not only does "The Face" have supermodel icons Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha in "the front of house" in fashion speak, behind the scenes, legendary fashion stylist Patti Wilson was creating the stellar, droolworthy looks seen on the show. Wilson's a really big deal in the fashion world (and the nicest person, by the way). She began her prolific career in the 90s at the cutting edge i-D magazine and Vogue Italia. Since then, she's styled major star power, including Lady Gaga, Brad Pitt, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Dakota Fanning and worked with big time photographers like Terry Richardson, Ellen von Unworth and Steven Meisel (who Coco credits as making her career). Now she's working on our little ol' show, "The Face," and took the time to share some incredible stories (Cameron Diaz dress 911!), plus insight on how this whole styling for TV really works.

Model Yana and Patti Wilson attend the Karl Lagerfeld for Impluse at Macy's Press Preview at Yellow Korner on August 3, 2011 in New York City. [Photo Credit: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Macy's]

The Face: How did you go about selecting the designers and pieces for “The Face”?

Patti Wilson: For each girl, I created their own character, a little bit like you do in a movie. Each of the girls has her own taste and her own personal style. So with that in mind, I created a wardrobe for each one. What would Naomi wear? What would Naomi wear when she is judging, Karolina when she is on a challenge and Coco when posing, etc ...

The Face: What was the process in getting the supermodels ready for each shoot?

Patti Wilson: It was actually a relatively easy process. All three girls are so used to the fashion world and what it means to get camera ready—which made it much easier—as they understand. How many outfit changes were involved in one episode? Three girls, three outfits, 12 episodes—you do the math! It was a lot. Especially since we needed to have back up options as well.

The Face: Did the models get to take anything home with them? If yes, what did they take?

Patti Wilson: I wanted to keep the girls as fashion forward as possible, so most of the clothes worn were runway looks from the current season. We borrowed from the designers and showrooms, so we couldn’t keep them. They need them for editorials and production. Scheduling the looks was tricky, sometimes the clothes came in the morning of the shoot day and left back to Europe the same night.

The Face: Do you work regulary with Naomi, Coco and Karolina outside of "The Face?"

Patti Wilson: Yes. All three of them come from a strong editorial fashion background. Which is “my” world and what I am most known for. Editorials are my passion, I love to push fashion forward and try new things.

First time I worked with Karolina was when she was 17, for a shoot for Vanity Fair. I put her in a metallic tutu prom dress with ripped up tights. Karolina was amazing—you could tell back than, she had what it takes to make it.

One of my favorite Coco memories is actually from a trip we took together to Vienna for a charity show. I think her mother came with us as well. It was a huge event and very chaotic and having Coco and her easy fun attitude with us, made the trip so much better.

And Naomi, I have worked so many times with Naomi and each time is special—I couldn’t pick one. But I will never forget the very first time I saw her. She had just started modeling and I didn’t know her or had ever heard of her before. But I remember getting on a plane to London and I walked by her and my heart stopped. I thought, "this is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen." And to this day she is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. There is no one like Naomi.

The Face: I know you have worked with Brad Pitt, what is the difference between styling a huge movie star and a major supermodel?

Patti Wilson: In general its easier to style a model when it involves fashion. They are used to all the drama and the long time in hair and make up and all the trying on of clothes etc. But as you mentioned Brad Pitt—he was a dream to work with. He is very easy going, funny and sweet.

The Face: I know you’ve also worked with David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Courtney Love, Dakota Fanning, Fergie, and Daphne Guinness—what projects are you working on now? Who have been your favorite to work with?

Patti Wilson: I am getting ready for Fashion Week—the shows. I have a few editorials to do before and advertising projects. And of course I am working on the premiere of “The Face."

The Face: A lot of us have seen "The Rachel Zoe Project" on Oxygen's sister network, Bravo, and there always seems to be some sort of last minute, almost-disaster when it comes to a dress arriving on-time. What similar types of situations have you experienced?

Patti Wilson: Me and my team try to be as organized as humanly possible. But you can’t control everything—life happens. Like for example right now, I am styling Cameron Diaz for Russian Interview and I was just informed that due to a snow storm in London, I wont be getting my clothes from Europe. Not good, not good at all. But I try to deal with these situations as calmly as possible, it’s all part of the process.

The Face: Describe one of your favorite shoots you have styled—who was it and what clothes did they wear?

Patti Wilson: When you have had such an full filling and long career, as I do—you can’t pick out one shoot anymore. The whole thing becomes amazing. I thank my lucky stars, that I get to live my dream each day.

The Face: What was it like for you, as a stylist, to work on a reality show competition?

Patti Wilson: Reality shows are not necessarily known for their high fashion and some designers were apprehensive to do reality TV. But than again, there has never been a show like this before. The girls are so deeply rooted in fashion and have relationships with so many designers, that many took a leap of faith and wanted to work with them. Especially Naomi, who knows everyone and many of her friends wanted to support her. [AzzedineAlaïa, Versace, [AlexanderMcQueen, Givenchy and I think that’s something new. We haven’t seen before. And hopefully, next season I get to go even further—as I said before—I love to try new things and push fashion to places it hasn’t been before.

Do not miss the season premiere of "The Face" to see those 12 Patti Wilson-styled outfits the supermodel coaches wear: Tue., Feb. 12 at 9/8c!

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