International fashion stylist Sima Kumar never had plans of becoming a stylist, but fell into it thanks to a boyfriend in a band and friends who were aspiring models. “I was the go to girl when it came to putting outfits together and cultivating looks,” shares Kumar, revealing that she didn’t even know styling was a proper job.
Raised in Canada, Kumar at present, is the international market director for UK at Kit and Ace – a luxury apparel brand founded in Vancouver. Her journey towards becoming a full time stylist began while working in retail – her very first retail job being in 1988 at Fairweather. She worked at eponymous Vancouver shops such as The Block, Aritzia and Club Monaco. “I never thought of what I was doing as “selling”, instead I would style the customers. I took that approach simply because I found it more interesting and a deeper way to connect with customers. Having meandered into it allowed me to learn on my own terms, collaborate with people in a more intimate way and cultivate my point of view,” she explains, which eventually led to her becoming a freelance stylist for over two decades.
Being a freelancer for 20 plus years, finding someone who would take a risk on her was difficult for Kumar. “I read as ‘high risk’ to potential employers – having come from a lot of freedom and autonomy. It was also difficult getting people out of the mentality that I didn’t expect celebrity styling rates for a career segue,” says Kumar.
Talking about her work, one of her favourite design collaborations is PLAY – a contemporary women’s tops line named after the first letter of each of her nephews and nieces. “Another was my bag design for Mata Hari. I created a bag that was inspired by my love of sending love letters and it looks like an envelope,” she adds, calling Coco Chanel (who shares the same birth date as Kumar) as her inspiration and the first contemporary visionary and minimalist.
Kumar has styled for famous celebrities, including Elton John, Brad Pitt, Sean Connery, Nelly Furtado and Kylie Minogue, among many others. In 2002, Sima was nominated for four MTV awards for her work in music videos for No Doubt, Jennifer Lopez, Incubus and P.O.D. Her fashion, commercial and print editorial work includes styling for Christian Dior, Yves St.
Laurent, Paris Fashion Week, the Grammy Awards and GQ Magazine.
Ask her which celeb she enjoyed working with the most, and immediately comes the reply – Canadian actress Kristin Kreuk. “We became close friends over the years. Also, because she was very young (18) when I first started working with her. She’s now 32, and to witness the growth of another human over those critical years is amazing.”
Looking at her success, Kumar is always a little surprised that she somehow was able to live very comfortably working as a fashion stylist. “Everyone has a different metric to measure success. Mine were predominately freedom – to have my own time, freedom of expression, freedom from restrictive work parameters, freedom to travel, and ultimately the freedom to say ‘No, thank you’,” she says in conclusion.
SIMA KUMAR'S FASHION FORECAST
Metallic gold - for Fall/Winter 2015, it will show up in garments and accessories.
Athletic styling in luxury - especially in lines like Miu Miu, Fendi.
Androgyny - suits for women. It’s about simplifying without losing a luxurious aesthetic.
Military - which I personally see as a staple than a trend. Everything from the army green palette to details such as epilettes.
1970s – for knitwear. Prints will have a retro feeling to them.
Shearling – this first showed up in 2014, but will continue to be more a mainstream trend as we move into winter. You’ll have options from the high street to uber high end.
Black and white graphic prints – the controlled colour way of B+W mixed with a graphic print is the easiest way to make a trend statement. Prints will by hypnotic but not
psychadelic. For inspiration, look to Gwen Stefani.
Tips for summer fashion
To look stylish vs. trendy for summer, control the colour palette – Stay away from fast fashion with cheap fabrics and lots of prints. If you want to create a stylish look, go for classic summer fabrics of cotton, silk and linen. Keep silhouettes feminine, yet structured. Comfortable shoes. Heels are try-hard. Nike trainers in limited edition collaborations are a favourite of mine, as are Marni and Celine sandals.
Classic white shirt is a must for a year round wardrobe – not just summer. It can be worn with tailored wide leg trousers for a dressy look, over a capri for the chic cosmopolitan look and over your bikini as a beach cover-up.
Healthy skin and hair – Your skin is your largest and only visible organ – take care of it. Fake tans are not acceptable here. Moisturize and keep hair hydrated. Great hair and skin will make (almost) anything you’re wearing look good.
Light colours – go for a sea breeze palette of white, light blue, coral, yellow and gold jewellery.