Being a black woman influences almost every decision I make. I often create for my younger self, hungry for multidimensional imagery of black folk and of all people of color. I still get excited to see POC of varied backgrounds and [get] excited that they inhabit nontraditional spaces.
Solange Franklin’s style is the good kind of aspirational. She puts things together in a way that’s both surprising and approachable; you’ll love it on her but also want to put it on yourself. It’s a skill well-earned! She’s a freelance stylist and the Fashion Editor-at-Large for Paper Magazine. She’s been in the industry for a while, and worked alongside the likes of Giovanna Battaglia, Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh. You can see her depth of experience in the way she styles herself. Every day she looks…kind of perfect?
I was actually pre-med in college. I loved the idea of being a doctor. I went to Mount Holyoke and did a self-designed major in race relations, gender, and health. But I was always interested in style. I would be doing my internships and research, and I would think about how I could redesign my lab coat. [Laughs] My friend and I would troll the Teen Vogue intern forum, which was eye-opening. We would be like, 'How do you get in? How?' Like, I had my own privileges and my own advances, but I was still just a girl from Iowa coming to New York saying that I wanted to work in fashion.
We’ve been known to get, well, comfortable at the homes of many of our subjects: cue shoots that involve our hosts making us morning avocado toast, or feeding us tequila shots, or blasting Lil Wayne as they show us their diamonds. And while we’ll admit that, collectively, we’re the types who can get pretty at-ease no matter the situation, it’s our subjects who really make that magic happen, as with Solange Franklin, who made us comfortable enough to hang out an hour past our wrap, drinking chai tea and chatting about everything from the thrill of vintage shopping to the need for more diverse representation in fashion.
While we didn’t expect to be spending a good chunk of our day at Franklin’s Brooklyn apartment, we knew that she would have some pretty good stories to tell before we ever buzzed up. See, the stylist was Giovanna Battaglia-Engelbert’s right-hand woman for more than four years—and, as her first assistant, had a big hand in some of the most major fashion moments. Now she’s a freelance stylist in her own right and fashion editor-at-large at Paper magazine. All in all, as we discovered over that tea, Franklin knows a thing or two about running things and has some no-bullshit advice for any aspiring stylists (you gotta put in the werk; also, save your money).
Think those glossy fashion shoots, featuring leggy models and loads of au courant clothing are easy to create? Solange Franklin will tell you otherwise. She’s the assistant to super stylist Giovanna Battaglia, and helps her put together knockout spreads for the likes of W and Vogue Japan. When she’s not jetting around the world, armed with trunks and her styling kit as Battaglia’s right hand, Franklin takes on gigs of her own. This is one assistant to keep your eye on…
Both of my parents are doctors, and initially I didn’t know that fashion could even be an occupation. I was premed at Mount Holyoke College, and while waiting for lab results I’d be thinking about how to redesign my lab coat and make cool science goggles! My interest in style started with Teen Vogue. I used to get two subscriptions—I’d cut up one to make mood boards and keep the other so I’d have a catalog of every issue. While in college, I scored an internship in the market department there. I commuted back and forth from western Massa-chusetts to New York City to finish school and intern at the same time! I landed my job with Giovanna through the recommendation of someone I’d worked with while freelancing. When I started, I was her second assistant and then got promoted. Now I help Giovanna with each photo shoot she styles. I handle market and casting, pitch stories, and attend shows. I also coordinate looks at W, where she’s a contributing fashion editor, and at Vogue Japan.