Fast Confession - costume designer Stáňa Šlosserová: Angelina Jolie is straightforward and knows exactly what she wants
Thousands of costumes and countless actors, including big Hollywood stars, she also often worked as a personal costume designer for, have passed through the hands of this film costume designer, stylist, dress code and label expert in the Last two decades. The current coronavirus pandemic has affected her life as well, and like many of her colleagues, she has lost the opportunity to work and make money on the film sets, which she primarily focuses on. In the interview for LP-Life.com, she discussed with us, among other things, how stylists work online today, but also reminisced about famous colleagues and friends such as Angelina Jolie or Orlando Bloom.
What does your work look like now during the Advent and the coronavirus?
For me, this year is the year when I moved almost entirely from the "offline" environment, which was essential to my work until now, to the world of online communication. I was thinking about how to do the work I love even in a situation where our lives are currently defined by the guidelines that need to be followed. I've found that part of what I've been doing face to face for years, I can do through technology. Filming was suspended or severely restricted, so I focused on styling consultations, which I adapted to the online environment. Under normal circumstances, I visit my clients at home for personal styling, we sort the wardrobe on the spot and together we also create combinations of clothes for different seasons. I do this even now, when it's impossible to meet, I just had to learn and "pick up" a form of online styling to satisfy everyone who was interested in it. I first tried it on about six of my friends and according to the reactions it worked quite well. People are ordering my online service now.
What is required for such consultation?
All you need is an iPad, a phone, a computer or a laptop, whatever there is that has a camera we can use. (laughs) The meeting starts with a little preparation, where I first send clients an overview of what they will need so it can be effective, and this way they can get what they really want and need from me. This mainly means having clothes within reach during our consultation, ensuring at least a two-meter distance from the camera, a mirror and a telephone or camera on which to take pictures of the created outfits. And then, on the agreed day and hour they just receive a link for our connection and we can go for it! Many people don't know how to combine clothes, and this often leads to a familiar situation - a full closet and they still don't know what to wear. During our consultation, I am interested in their favorite pieces, as well as those they bought because they liked them, but don't know how to wear them. Then we try different combinations together, and finally we have ready-made variants of outfits for different occasions.
All of this has to be quite challenging.
In fact, apart from the fact that I don't meet clients in person now, this corresponds to how I prepare and do personal styling even in standard situations. It was more challenging with this online form, especially at the beginning, when I was thinking about how to do it so that the meeting would not lose any of the pleasant atmosphere, which is essential for me. It's important that the client enjoys it and feels good about the new wardrobe. I got it all figured out now. (laughs) Online styling with me takes ninety minutes.
Are people interested even during these times?
I've found that there are a lot of people who, like me, think about what they're wearing and what their clothes say, but they refuse to have closets full of things. On the contrary, they consciously assemble their wardrobes of pieces that will serve them on any occasion and especially for several years without "losing points". And that's also what I'm trying to teach people. I see the difference between buying clothes and investing in a wardrobe. Instead of constantly buying unnecessary pieces of clothing, which lured us probably just because they were on sale, it's better to invest in quality basic pieces, from which we assemble a functioning wardrobe. I'm talking about the so-called capsule wardrobe, which is nothing more than a wardrobe containing basic pieces of clothing, t-shirts, shirts, pants, dresses and suits to coats and shoes, topped off with accessories in the form of belts, handbags, jewelry and hats. It sounds like rocket science and an investment, but it's not that complicated. About sixty different combinations can be made from about twenty basic pieces. I advise my clients to think about dressing from the point of view of their job, hobbies or social life, and we assemble their wardrobe according to each of these occasions. If they need to buy some of the missing pieces, we put together a list and I'm happy to advise them where to buy them. I try to discourage hasty purchases, I recommend waiting for the opportunity when clothes in the highest premium quality can be purchased at special offers at even the most famous brands for a better price.
How can the clients find you? In the Czech Republic, your name is not that known among stylists, is your reputation spread among people by word-of-mouth?
You are right, most often new clients come to me on the recommendation of existing ones who already have experience with me. Lately, however, it happens that I am also approached by members of my group, which I created on Facebook, and I regularly communicate with fans there. I'm indeed better known abroad, but mainly as a costume designer, because I work mostly with productions of foreign films. IForeign producers in whose circles I work know me personally, and I can also be found in the international film database. In the Czech Republic, only friends from the film and television industry know about me, with whom I also sometimes work.
In short, Czech producers are not aware of you as much, and that's why they don't contact you?
I don't know if it's because of it or if there's something else behind it. Maybe they think I'm conceited. (laughs) My film career is connected with projects outside the Czech market, or it only concerns locations where a foreign film is being shot in our country and I'm currently working on it. I have chosen this path and I don't regret it. It allowed me to meet amazing people I wouldn't have had a chance to meet otherwise. But that doesn't mean that I would avoid working with Czech productions. I appreciate the offers from the Czech Republic, but many circumstances are in play when it comes to accepting them, as well as with the foreign ones. At the beginning of the year, I won a competition as a costume designer for a foreign series, but the pandemic stopped the project, so thanks to that my online career began to develop in the meantime…
So you started working as a stylist because you couldn't work on movies?
I have been working as a stylist for years, but I did personal styling mainly for my friends, or on the recommendation of some people from the world of business or art. And sometimes it happened that I was approached on film when the producer wanted to consult her personal wardrobe and such… I worked the most for those who know me or knew about me, or they were acquaintances of people in the industry. This year has presented us all with new challenges, this shift of focus to my styling career has spread a little more among the people, and I have suddenly found myself professionally in the online world. Another thing that contributed to it was the start of my Facebook group The Mirror of Style, where I can use all my experience and help people with everything that interests them around dressing and style. At the same time, it opened up other possibilities for me not to be dependent only on what I do for the film in the future, and to be able to make a living in other ways as well. The interest of people in joining the group surprised me, just a few days after creating it, there were over a thousand of them and more are still applying. Fans on my site and in the group enjoy it when I show them what to wear, I advise on how to dress according to physical disproportions or emphasize their advantages. This inspired the so-called "dress up games", as my fans call them. (laughs) I also regularly add various practical tips and tricks that I've tried on my own over the years, and introduce the members of my group to individual dress codes or inspiring personalities. I try to always offer something interesting. I like the feeling that I'm doing something useful. Come have a look, I'd be happy to see you there!
How many years have you been working in the film industry?
More than twenty years. My first ever encounter with a big movie was the Mission Impossible project. At that time, I helped out for free, but with great interest. Afterwards, thanks to the personal recommendation of the film producer Terence A. Clegg, I got my first official position in a costume team and the first real film pay.
How would you evaluate those twenty years? Why do you think you are so successful?
In fact, I attribute my position in the film industry to a combination of several factors. I'm very hardworking, I don't have any problems starting from scratch, I learn fast and I see things more positively than negatively. In addition, I enjoy what I'm doing, I am receptive, I pay attention to fair communication and mutual respect and respect for the work of others. I'm not perfect and there's still room for improvement. But I know what my job is about, and I understand it really well.
Which experience abroad was crucial for you, which taught you the most?
Each project meant a journey I had to take, with only different circumstances surrounding it. But what I learned over the years wasn't just about the film industry as such or the costumes we made. It was mainly about the people I worked with and about myself. Most of all, it taught me to realize who I am, to believe in my abilities and not to be afraid to show what I can do. A major leap in my professional life was the film Gladiator, thanks to which I got to work on the film Black Hawk Down, and after that it went on. I have worked with actors such as Russell Crowe, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Richard Gere, but also Jeremy Irons, Morgan Freeman, Joaquin Phoenix, Jessica Chastain or Orlando Bloom, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas and Harvey Keitel.
These are some huge names. Can they pronounce your name?
Yes. They always ask how to pronounce it. I also ask them how to address them. If we are close, they sometimes ask me to call them the way their loved ones call them at home. Due to the nature of my work as a costume designer and personal costume stylist, relationships with actors are very personal in a way, and I care that they feel comfortable and relaxed with me.
But not everyone probably knows where Czech Republic is.
Not at the beginning, but during the filming, when we spend a lot of time together, they start to get actively interested in my homeland.
Did any of these celebrities tell you they didn't want you to dress them? That they don't feel comfortable with you?
Such situation hasn't occurred yet. On the contrary, I have the opposite experience. I received an offer to do costumes for a foreign film, which I could not accept due to the workload at the time, but the main star asked me to "at least" be their personal stylist, which of course I couldn't refuse.
Were you returning to the Czech Republic or did you live wherever the filming was taking place?
I was coming back, my base is here. When working on foreign films, it is usually like spending a few months away from home while filming. There are preparations, then filming and finally liquidation. For instance, I lived in Morocco for half a year with the film Black Hawk Down, most of the time in the desert… But who wouldn't enjoy it, when there were also great guys like Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGregor or Tom Hardy. (laughs) After filming, you return home, or it's followed by another project. Such is the life at the film industry.
Was it difficult for you to leave your whole life in the Czech Republic behind for half a year?
I started working in movies when I was 22, before I had children. Traveling around the world and a longer time away from home was not a problem for me, I did the most large film projects during my "pre-maternal stage". After the birth of my children, I took a break for several years and accepted only smaller and less time-consuming projects. I always consider the offers carefully, which is also why I am actually happy for the changes that have shifted me to online activities this year.
Did you take anything from these movies as a souvenir?
All I have left are nice memories, photos and sometimes I receive personal gifts from the actors, which I really appreciate. Among other things, I have an antique necklace with an antique box from Johnny Depp, which will always remind me of the moments while working with him. Angelina Jolie is also known for her specific gifts, and I have a set of knives from her, they're engraved with a thank you message. It was actually related to her character in the movie Wanted, where we met. I explained to her that knives should not be given as a gift, because we could stay "on the edge" together, so I said I have to pay her at least 1 CZK to make it rather look like a transaction and the two of us could remain on good terms. She didn't know there was a "saying" like that at all, but she agreed. (laughs) Working with Angelina is also one of these memorable jobs. She has a great personality, she is straightforward and she knows exactly what she wants and what her character should look like. She can confront a person during costume rehearsals, but if you are ready to discuss it with conviction, she listens to your arguments.
A lot of these actors also shoot in Prague nowadays, do they think of you when they come here?
They do. As an example, I worked abroad with Owen Wilson, and when he was filming in Prague, he called me. Many Hollywood actors don't have direct numbers for people with whom they work, most of the contacts for crew members are in the production phones. This is obviously so that the numbers for the biggest stars are not distributed freely to anyone. When the actors want to contact you themselves, they will most often try it through the production, but it depends on their decision whether or not to allow you to meet them in private. We spend a lot of time together during the filming and of course there are some ties between us, but when they come to Prague with another film, they are part of a new team I have no experience with, and it's often more difficult to contact each other. Fortunately, social networks also exist…
Who did you meet up with when they came here?
One of them was Orlando Bloom, with whom I worked on two films already. When we first met, he was still a young actor, and I remember laughing together with him about what a "klutz" he is because he had already broken probably all the bones in his body, as he kept falling all the time. After years, we met for work again, he was already a big star by then, but we enjoyed our time just the same.
Do you regret being better known abroad than at home?
That's life. But it was my own decision. My personal and professional journey is not just walking on roses, I had downfalls to the very bottom as well and losses, including the most difficult ones, human ones. But I have learned to find a meaning in the situations I experience. I am grateful to foreign projects for being able to hold my family together in this difficult year, money from domestic productions alone would probably not be enough for us. But because movies are not being produced much now and I can't travel for work, it made me come up with something new and be less dependent on film projects. However, I believe that the film industry will stay with me.
Do you have a future film project arrangement?
In January, I should start working on a foreign series. But I can't talk about the details yet.
Stáňa, thank you very much for the interview.
What would you never wear?
The best dressed Czech celebrity?
The worst dressed foreign celebrity?
Name the most famous person you styled.
Name three designers or brands where you prefer to shop yourself?
How much money do you spend per month on clothes and accessories?
How should I dress for a first date?
When any person approaches you, what will you first focus on?
How has coronavirus affected your work?
In which country did you feel best when it came to work?
What is the biggest change in fashion you have seen in the last five years?
What do you like to wear when no one is watching?
What will your Christmas tree look like?
What material item would you like for Christmas?
What does style mean to you?