A day in the life of Adriana Fernandez can be summed up in one word: dangerous. By day, she’s navigating shopping centres, exploring the latest in luxury fashion, by night, she’s flicking through online stores, saving products for her clients and simultaneously making a mental checklist of all of clothing, bags and shoes she wants for her own wardrobe. Glamorous? Sure. But very dangerous.
Ever since the Sydney-based stylist was 10, Adriana knew she wanted to work in fashion. Now, as Westfield’s head stylist, everyday she gets to do what she loves – making people feel good about themselves.
We caught up with Adriana who shares insight into the fashion industry, styling and must-have products for every woman’s wardrobe.
What’s your background?
Both of my parents are Italian and I was born and raised in Shellharbour, just south of Wollongong by the beach.
Did you always know you wanted to work as a stylist?
I’ve loved fashion and the beauty industry ever since I was a little girl. By age 10, I wanted to be a grown up just so I could wear heels and fancy dresses. So it’s no surprise that my first job was working in a fashion store. I worked my way up and managed stores until I found clients kept coming back to me to style them – this is where I found my niche.
From there, I happened to be at the right place at the right time and was asked to work for a company called Quintessentially, and so my journey began.
How did you transition from Quintessentially to working for yourself?
Quintessentially were originally based in Westfield for a while before they eventually moved, and then I was approached by Westfield Sydney to come on board as a stylist and after eight years I am their head stylist. At the same time, I decided to do freelance work under the Adristyling banner styling private clients, red carpet, corporate events and television.
How would you describe your own personal style?
The truth is my style changes all the time. I certainly love a feminine look with added edge, and of course a little bit of sexy doesn’t hurt, but in a classy manner. My go-to look is a pair of good jeans, sneakers, a great shirt, blazer and of course, my sunglasses – being comfortable is key here.
What does an average day of work look like for you?
I start my days with a client meet and greet in the styling suite over a glass of champagne. We usually spend a bit of time here chatting and getting to know each other. This is where I can really get into their head and understand their motivations and needs – there’s always a reason why someone comes to me. From there, we approach stores that will suit my client’s needs and budget. We end the styling session with a debrief in the styling suite. For existing clients, they have the luxury of sitting back in the styling suite as I have already sourced the latest fashion pieces to suit their existing wardrobe and lifestyle.
I've loved fashion and the beauty industry ever since I was a little girl. By age 10, I wanted to be a grown up just so I could wear heels and fancy dresses.
What are some of the main reasons people come to you?
There’s a few, men and women looking for a change of image, mums returning to the workforce after an extended period of being at home, people looking to be dressed for a special occasion, some need guidance and are looking for styling tips, others are overwhelmed and some clients are so busy that they don’t have time to shop and turn to me to shop for them.
Given the global impact of COVID-19, how have you adapted your work to suit new regulations?
COVID-19 has really thrown me as my job is all hands on. I’ve been staying positive and will be doing virtual styling sessions with my clients to build their wardrobe.
What does this look like?
I’ll be using FaceTime or Zoom to provide styling service to my clients including wardrobe consults. I will also go online and research pieces that will work with their existing wardrobe and share these links with them.
How do you determine the right look for somebody?
I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients. Our chats become very personal where I try to understand their lifestyle, motivations, concerns and needs. I can then determine what look would work best for them and make sure they are completely comfortable in their new transition.
What is the biggest challenge you face when styling someone?
The biggest challenge would have to be getting them to look at themselves and see their beauty. Being able to get them to stop focusing on the parts of themselves they don’t like, and learning to love and embrace these parts and their whole selves, regardless of their shape or size.
I remember I once had a client cancel on me three times and when we finally met I could tell she seriously did not want to be there. I asked her, you don’t want to be here do you? and she said her sister had bought her the voucher as a gift and she had no interest in being there as she thought we wouldn’t find anything for her. Well, this just made me more determined. We ended up finding her so many different pieces that she actually broke down and cried, saying she didn’t think she could ever wear anything. I can’t put into words how special it was to share this experience with her.
How do you help people overcome feelings of self-doubt or low self-esteem?
The most important thing to me is making people feel comfortable. A styling session needs to be fun and not taken seriously. Once I have a client’s trust, their guard is dropped and they allow and trust in me to create a new look for them.
You must meet a lot of interesting people in your work, any highlights?
I get to meet so many amazing people but my highlight would have to be working with Katy Perry’s stylist Johnny Wujek.
How did that come about?
He was coming to Australia and had a few stylists to choose from. We had chatted briefly before he arrived and discussed some looks we were putting together for this Westfield competition where the winner won a styling session with the both of us and the garments we chose for them. It was such an honour to be chosen to collaborate with someone who is so highly recognised in the fashion industry.
What are some essential items every woman needs in her wardrobe?
Shapewear to create a silhouette, a pencil skirt with a bit of stretch, a staple jacket that can go with multiple outfits, a classic shirt, and a cape blazer; a classic piece that works wonders for all shapes and sizes. Aside from that, a pair of diamond or pearl studs, gold loops, necklaces and bangles. It used to be the rule of three but that’s been thrown out the window.
Source: Westfield Miranda
What’s the best part of being a stylist?
When a client tries on a look they thought they could never pull off and seeing their smile as they look in the mirror and love what they see. That’s my job complete.
It must be hard to spend so much time shopping for other people without spending all of your money too, how do you manage this?
Tell me about it! I look for pieces for my clients and see things and think to myself, I would love that in my wardrobe. If it’s a great staple piece I invest. Some of my clients have no budget and can afford multiple high-end pieces including not having to choose a colour but take both. They are very fortunate and deserving.
What does your working from home attire look like?
I still like to look good as it puts me in full work mode, especially when I’m going to be talking to my clients. You will see me wearing my favourite Balmain t-shirt with loop earrings, maybe something a little more relaxed on the bottom and minimal makeup.
What tips do you have for people working from home that want to look good and feel comfortable?
Get up and pretend you are going to work as usual, dress comfortably, put on a little makeup, pull out your best top or favourite cashmere sweater. A feel-good look will help you feel productive while working from home. Pair your favourite t-shirt with a blazer and jeans, throw on your favourite bright top, everybody likes to see colour.