Meet Allison Bornstein: The Celebrity Stylist Offering FaceTime ‘Closet Therapy’ Sessions

by Freya Drohan

We have been major fans of Katie Holmes’ recent street style looks, and when we did some digging, it turned out that it’s New York-based celebrity stylist Allison Bornstein who is the creative vision behind many of her most memorable outfits. The Daily caught up with the fashion fanatic to hear more about how we can get paparazzi-ready style of own our, thanks to her new FaceTime personal styling sessions. Here’s her very refreshing take on how to truly hone in on your sense of style.

How did you get into styling?
I have always loved clothes and fashion, but had no idea what a stylist even was until I got my first internship at Teen Vogue when I was 20-years-old. I remember the fashion assistant sent me on a photoshoot and it all clicked. Of course, I knew that there was someone curating these amazing looks for the pages of a magazine, but I didn’t really understand what that meant until I saw it. From then on, I always begged to go on every photoshoot and from there I met a few stylists and asked to intern for them in my free time. I loved it all so much and I couldn’t get enough. To be around all this incredible clothing made me crazy!!!!! I was still in school, but was assisting stylists on the weekends and often skipping class to be on set.

Allison Bornstein (courtesy)

Did you always want to work in fashion?
Fashion has always been so important for me. It was the most important tool for self-expression when I was young. I have an amazing mother who let me pick out my own clothing and allowed me to experiment and dress in a way that made me feel good (which was often extremely wild combinations). I remember she had a friend who didn’t want her daughter to hang out with me because she was scared her daughter would be influenced by my crazy fashion choices.

What do you love about your job?
My favorite part about my job is seeing how clothing can be so transformative. I love when I put a look on a client and can literally see how incredible they feel— it can change their posture, their mood, their outlook. I really love creating an amazing look and then watching my client look at herself in the mirror. That moment is It is like a magic trick!

Tell us about your approach when dressing celebrities.
I approach all of my clients the same, whether they are being photographed or whether they just want some ideas for new looks to wear at home! I first define their personal style, and then I work to refine it. I never want to have a heavy-hand… my main goal is for my clients to look like they didn’t have a stylist. I want everything they wear to look like it could have come out of their own closet. I really try to take myself out of the equation.

We particularly love Violette’s easy going, chic French girl style!
For Violette, she has that amazing, indescribable French girl “thing”—so whatever I put her in just feels really effortless and cool. When I work with Violette, I often mix in some of her own pieces, whether its shoes, a bag, or a t-shirt, because I think it helps create that effortlessness and ease. It also feels more personal than just throwing borrowed clothes on someone— you need some life and some personality in there! I also like the idea of showing women that we don’t need a ton of things, I think it is fun when they can sort of recognize specific pieces that she wears a lot and see the different ways that they can be styled.

How did you pivot your business during the pandemic?
When lockdown first happened, I was initially trying to think of a way that I could raise money; which was harder because I wasn’t sure how much I would be working! So I decided to do a quick post on Instagram offering FaceTime styling sessions for an hourly rate and then donating 30% from each session to the Food Bank for NYC. I didn’t necessarily think it would be a business idea, but the response was amazing. On my first day, I had close to 30 bookings lined up and my first four clients were from Belgium, Florida, Australia, and New York. It was really very cool. I realized that this was something that women wanted. Everyone deserves to have a stylist, everyone deserves to have a professional listen to them and help them feel amazing!

Why do you think these ‘closet therapist’ virtual sessions took off?
The thought was that women are not able to do anything for themselves—nails, hair, seeing friends—and I wanted to offer a service that allowed women to have one uninterrupted hour where we talk about her! Fashion can seem frivolous and is often an afterthought for busy women, but I wanted to offer women the space and permission to think about what they are wearing and why, and offer suggestions to improve or amplify their style using what is in their closet. It has been really incredible and I feel so lucky to be able to connect with so many women. I am going to continue doing these sessions indefinitely.

What’s your own personal style mantra?
Repeat! I love the idea of creating a signature style by styling and restyling pieces multiple ways. I think that, because there are so any choices, often we feel like we have to change it up all the time and I don’t think that’s the case. I think we can evolve in our style while still being true to who we are. For me, my closet is made up of blazers, silk tie neck blouses, and jeans. I want to create a style for myself that is recognizable so when people see a great blazer they think of me.

Allison Bornstein (courtesy)

How does that differ when you’re styling other clients?
I have the same approach with my clients: I like the idea of repeating items. The same pair of shoes can be worn with an evening gown and then the next day can be worn with jeans. I think with Instagram, we are always seeing everyone wearing brand new looks and that doesn’t really interest me.

What’s on your wishlist for Fall 2020?
Jewelry! I am having a real obsession with big, statement vintage jewelry. I think because I am on FaceTime so much, I have been craving vintage Chanel button earrings and chunky necklaces. I think that can take a simple look to a new level. I have also found that when I wear something big and fun, I feel more confident and it also changes the way that my clients interact with me as well—it is a total mood booster!

You frequently talk about how we should be shopping our own closets. What timeless pieces do you think we should all invest in?
I think that investment pieces are different for everyone, but I think that it is really important to invest in the fit of your clothes. We all expect to fit things perfectly off the rack which is so impossible— we come in so many shapes and sizes. I think that finding a good tailor can change everything. It is a little extra work but I think that is the best thing you can do. There is also no right or wrong way to have something fit; it is all about what is comfortable for you!

We love how you say in your Instagram bio “fashion is wellness”— can you elaborate on that?
I believe that when we look good, we feel good. I think we are so fortunate to have fashion as a tool to express ourselves and I want to reframe it as something joyful that we get to participate in instead of a hassle that we must do. We all have to wear clothes, so why not make the process of getting dressed a positive experience. One of the first questions I always ask my clients when I style them in a look is, “How do you feel?” To me, the way that we feel in clothing is so important, it is everything.

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