Lydia Santangelo may just be the busiest women in Boston. She is the founder of TESstylist, a Boston-based styling and production company. She is a frequent contributor to so many local and national magazines and television shows that we’ve already lost count. Her weekly schedule is drool-worthy. Between producing fabulous runway shows and print styling, all while traveling the country (and now the world!) we were frankly quite surprised that she even had a few minutes to sit down with L&C.
We got a chance to catch up with at one of her runway productions for Bloomingdale’s new initiative,The Collective. After schooling us all in spring’s top trends, she told us a little about her crazy fashionable life.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
I started my career as a buyer at Jordan Marsh, I have a major affinity for department stores, since that was the inception of my career. Shortly after that, I transitioned into the special events and fashion office and I found my forte and love. There is lots of labor and intensity that goes into fashion productions and editorials, but it never feels like a day of work. It’s something I’m very passionate about and frankly I’m blessed to be a part of this industry. So from there, I transitioned into freelancing and starting my own company. I hung my shingle officially and began styling, as fashion offices were absorbed across the country with all the mega-mergers, my business grew, so it was the best thing I ever did. I became a producer for department stores and designers, then started traveling the nation, but it all began in the humble roots of Boston.
BOSTON ISN’T NECESSARILY KNOWN AS A “FASHION CITY.” HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE FASHION SCENE HERE?
I think Boston has really always been a great city and a cosmopolitan city, at that. I think we get a bad rep as being ultraconservative, but I think we hold our own to major metropolises. New York is an enigma and LA has its own vibe, but I think Boston has a solid fashion scene. It has diversity in smaller boutiques and assortments that are local as well as major designers and flagship stores like Barneys, Neiman Marcus and Saks, which are a few of my faves.
HOW HAS YOUR COMPANY DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS?
We started my company 18 years ago and began working solely for department stores doing production, but we have grown nationally and now globally with a trip and project in Dubai that I’m excited to work on next week. I’m working for Al Tayer Insignia, which is a luxury parent company and they have major brands and designers all over the world. I’m so excited to be their representative giving them a pulse with what’s been happening with Fashion Week in New York and Paris, a report of what the red carpet has shown and generally what the western perspective is on fashion. Dubai is a multicultural, diverse city and I’m bringing a little bit of what the States have to offer to a unique and special audience there.
WHAT DO YOU PREFER MOST: PRINT STYLING OR RUNWAY STYLING?
That’s tough. I think because my core and my growth started in the runway production side of the business, I think I have a little soft spot in my heart for runway. But the creative opportunities and the artists that I get to work with on the editorial side, from photographers, make up artists, to stylists, it’s that collaboration, of which most of the finest are Boston based, has been an amazing opportunity and such a rewarding experience.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER? ANY PINCH-ME MOMENTS?
I am a pretty strong Christian and I’m faithful. Everyday begins with an appreciation and I truly say it, you can ask anyone who knows me, how blessed I am to work in an industry that I absolutely love. The moments that resonate are working with some legendary designers, like Karl Lagerfeld, Zac Posen, and Badgley Mischka, but also moments backstage meeting designers at New York Fashion Week to get a backstage perspective and learn where they came from and what has inspired them. But honestly to top them all, some of the most rewarding have been some of the Makeover America campaigns I’ve been involved in, where I’ve worked with women that are overcoming surgeries or domestic abuse and need the support of a stylist to feel good about who they are and how to dress. Those have by far exceeded all of the glamorous moments in my career.
WHERE DOES YOUR STYLE INSPIRATION COME FROM?
We do an awful lot of trend analysis, starting with the runway shows. Pantone is our go to for color. The analysis on Style.com is our bible. We get collections and reports from designers that we use, whether its editorials or for a particular production we are working with. So it comes with hard work and a great team. I’m really fortunate to have an amazing assistant producer, Mary Elizabeth Loncich. That really helps to support every show we do.
BETWEEN WORK AND TRAVELING, YOU’RE PRETTY BUSY. HOW DO YOU STAY BALANCED?
Coffee! And I’ve been juicing. It’s really a great pick me up. If you keep your body hydrated, I won’t say fed, but at least hydrated, during the craziness it really does help.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR TRENDS YOU’RE SEEING FOR SPRING 2014?
- Volume skirts
- Longer hemlines
- Fuller silhouettes on the bottom paired with a crop top – of course!
- Sporty chic – It’s fabulous to wear a sweat with a stiletto!
- Prints – tribal, pop art, picturesque
- Comfort! – Flats, wedges, gladiators