Ai LIVE: Neil Cohen’s Tips on Styling, Building Brand Relationships
In this episode of Ai LIVE, host E. Vincent Martinez speaks with fashion stylist Neil Cohen about his work and career path. Cohen, who has worked with well-known brands, celebrities, and models, has over 35 years of experience in the industry—the past eight of which have been spent as a stylist.
Cohen grew up in a fashion-forward family—his parents and extended family worked in the New York garment district. “I was reading Women’s Wear Daily while most [kids] were reading comic books,” he states.
Cohen mentions that he and his father have very different styles, which became apparent during the 1970s and 1980s—a time when the younger Cohen experimented with his fashion sense. “I went to Studio 54; jumpsuits were great fun. Then you find your path and where you feel you look best.”
Martinez asks Cohen to define the difference between fashion and style, to which Cohen points to Ralph Lauren as the “king of style.” He also cites the timeless looks Tom Ford and Thom Browne. Cohen adds that fashion relates to trends, but great style transcends trendiness—and includes clothes like a cashmere turtleneck and a nice pair of slacks.
Cohen also describes his work as a stylist and the time he devotes to building relationships with brands. “A model is a blank canvas—everything you see a model wear comes from the stylist,” he says. Cohen often spends 2-3 weeks in advance of a shoot, contacting brands to ask for clothes and accessories for a shoot.
“You build relationships with brands and I’m very grateful that I have amazing relationships with brands.”
Cohen recommends that budding fashion stylists take the time to learn the ropes—and he emphasizes that it takes experience to move up in the industry. “You have to work with someone and really learn. And be on time, no matter what.”
He concludes by mentioning some of the stylists he admires the most—those who style Jeff Goldblum and the Jonas brothers.
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