New York’s nightlife would not be the same without the unsurpassed flair of the city’s own, Stella Rose Saint Clair. The 28-year-old stylist extraordinaire is taking the fashion world by storm since the start of her fashion blog back in 2008. Since then, Stella has been featured in PAPER, photographed by the famous Steven Meisel, and even launched her own fashion line called STELLA. In recent years, she has been styling for Melanie Martinez and played the role of Cry Baby’s mother in the “Dollhouse” and “Sippy Cup” music videos. I’ll also add that Stella styled both videos (among others) with her unique visions. We recently spoke to Stella about her world of fashion, working with Melanie Martinez, and her views on pop music in general.
POPULOVE: Hey, Stella! How was your Halloween?
Stella: Really boring, actually! I just went to bed. I’m like really overwhelmed with Halloween now. At this point, Halloween almost feels like a job or something.
POPULOVE: Did you dress up?
Stella: No, I was home working. I thought maybe I’d dress up and go out, but I just didn’t feel like it. I was out of town last year on Halloween and the year before I was working a party and the year before THAT there was like a hurricane in New York and nobody could go out! So I have just sad experiences of Halloween. Most of my life is like Halloween though, so it’s alright in the end!
POPULOVE: What is a typical day for you like?
Stella: Probably not as romantic as people would think! I live in Brooklyn. I try to stick to a routine, but I usually don’t. A more exciting day would involve working to some extent on my designs. I did a bunch of stuff for Melanie recently and I also have my own line! So you know, I’ll be working on that for a period of time which is really awesome. It’s stressful, but fun! That would involve sewing, patterning, and maybe even a photoshoot. I work nightlife a lot, so I’ll be in the clubs or maybe in the city working a party and then I also just hangout with friends. I have a lot of friends in the city who like to dress up as well, so usually in the evening we’ll all be out of work and get to go out. I occupy my day with those things or like hang out with my cat!
POPULOVE: How would you describe your style using three words?
Stella: Somewhere between retro, punk, and kawaii. I love vintage styles especially the 60’s. Early and mid 60’s are really big style influences to me. Throwback punk looks have been really influential to me as well, but I love elements of kawaii culture in Japan. I feel like nobody takes it seriously. They like to make everything into a joke, but there is an element to seriousness. They take style very serious, but they’re able to have so much fun with it too. It’s almost like there are no rules any more! Maybe that’s just my interpretation from a western perspective looking at Japanese style culture and not actually being there to experience it. I do love the flavor they add to fashion though!
POPULOVE: What does fashion mean to you?
Stella: It’s a lifestyle to me. When I think of the saddest times of my life, I wasn’t sad because I wasn’t really incorporating fashion into my life, but I think that might have something to do with it. Fashion is almost like an escape for me and because of that, it’s become a reality. Everything I do has that style aspect in it! It makes mundane afternoons more interesting, because believe it or not I still do boring things everybody has to do! I do laundry. I get groceries. It sounds stupid, but [fashion] is being able to style those events for myself and choose how to present myself. I wish people, that maybe didn’t understand the importance of fashion, would see it from that standpoint. It’s almost like an art.
POPULOVE: What would you say to anyone who asks why you dress the way you do?
Stella: Fashion has always been something that existed in my life, but I rediscovered fashion in high school. I had a difficult time in my life with my personal acceptance and stuff. I didn’t like me at that age. I was fifteen, and realizing that I can use my body as a blank canvas and re-imagine myself as a person I wanted to be helped me find who I wanted to be. I did that with my fashion. It really helped me at that age and helped me become who I am today!
POPULOVE: What is one thing you don’t leave home without?
Stella: I always wear something on my head! I’m not opposed to looks that don’t require a head accessory, though I never feel like a look for me is complete without a head accessory, whether it’s a statement beret or full hat. Unless it’s a photo that I’ve taken of myself when I’m at home, I’m almost always wearing something on my head. When I started sewing I started with hats [too]. That’s what I was interested in and I still am. I actually made a hat for Melanie that was supposed to go with the outfit she wore on Conan last week, so eventually you’ll see that hat!
POPULOVE: How did you start working with Melanie?
Stella: This is so weird for me now! Years ago even before she was on The Voice, when [Melanie] was just doing photography, she emailed me and asked if I wanted to do a shoot with her sometime. I had recently modeled for a very large fashion campaign so it was a normal thing for me to get those emails, but her photography was very good so I told her ‘Sure.’ Then we eventually got hooked up from a mutual friend around the time she was shooting the “Dollhouse” video. I ended up not only acting in the video, but I styled the video too. That’s how the relationship really started, and then I continued to style her. Since that video’s been filmed, I’ve been on and off styling her. It’s an easy job because Melanie has a really amazing style already! There are plenty of instances where she just styles herself. Sometimes she just picks the pieces herself and chooses how to wear them. I love watching her grow and seeing what Melanie Martinez has become. She works so hard and has done this so on her own. It’s pretty fu*king cool!
POPULOVE: What was it like being on set for the music videos?
Stella: It was fun. I’ve been in music videos before so I knew the drill. She has a really clear idea of what she wants from the shoot. She really knew what she was doing and it was fun to work with a friend. Nobody is there to order you around, we just do it! We could just be crazy. So, it was fun.
POPULOVE: Do you have plans to incorporate your role in any other ‘Cry Baby’ videos?
Stella: I’m actually not sure! It’s up to her or whatever makes sense with the story line she’s writing. I’ve definitely been helping out though. We shot something recently that I can’t really reveal what it is, but I think it will be out soon. It was maybe a month ago we shot it. I did the styling for that and from what I saw, it’s going to be really really awesome!
POPULOVE: How has your fashion blog developed into your own fashion line?
Stella: My blog has gone through so many incarnations. When I started it, I knew I wanted to start my own fashion line. I was living in Seattle, which wasn’t the greatest place to start my own fashion line. So I started the blog originally because I was doing so much night life there and making my own outfits and styling outfits. It was all very self made. I was hosting all these parties dressed in drag, so I started my blog was called “Confessions of a Female Drag Queen” where I posted all my night life work. It just really grew from there! I mean that was so long ago, I started it on Livejournal which isn’t really a thing now. It’s funny, I fu*ked up really bad when I started, everyone was mean to me on Livejournal! They all thought I was a troll and I was like ‘WHY ARE THEY CALLING ME A TROLL?’ I didn’t even know what that meant! Eventually though, I gained a response and when people online started responding as well as people in the real world, it gave me an outlet to start creating the designs I had in my head, but for other people. Now I’m just trying to create my own cohesive line. It’s just a baby that’s trying to grow right now! So that’s the goal right now!
POPULOVE: If you could design for anyone, who would it be?
Stella: I used to say Amanda Lepore, but I feel like I can just do that now because I know her! My favorite thing now is to just design outfits I dream up and kind of see who wants them. That’s the best thing about having a line. I used to create like a fashion character and then just do it, but now with a line I can do that and develop that idea into a whole collection of one cohesive look and see who responds to it. It’s all like creating art and seeing peoples reaction. So I just like designing for everyone or maybe no one.
POPULOVE: What is your favorite song to walk the runway to?
Stella: I like to do like old 60’s dances like the mashed potato. I’m trying to think of my favorite songs, but most are really weird! Like anything like the Jive Bombers or old girl group stuff. I like Christie. I’m trying to listen to more new music because I’ve been kind of opposed to it when I was younger and I would just listen to retro pop and 70’s or 80’s punk music. Oh, I really liked Riot Grrrl stuff as well. I think it’s an important thing to listen to as a woman, but I’m definitely trying to get into newer stuff now especially working with Melanie because she’s so talented I’ve really formed an appreciation for new pop music. I don’t know what I like to strut to, but I like to do it!
POPULOVE: Which pop artists have you been drawn to?
Stella: What I like about Melanie’s music is that it’s very dark. It’s almost chilling how dark it is. When you first listen to it, you don’t realize how dark it is. She kind of plays with your mind. What I dislike about some pop music is that it can be colorless. Like I don’t want to hear about how much you like to party or someone’s giant butt! Like I don’t care about that and the sexist bullshit that tops the charts.
I’ve never been a fan of Miley Cyrus’ music at all like her songs about partying, but what I’ve seen of her as a person, I admit I really enjoy her. She’s doing whatever she wants and really is changing what it means to be a female pop star in my eyes. She has short hair, come out as queer, she’s sex positive, she’s freeing the nipple like crazy and I think that’s really powerful. People are like ‘Miley is such a slut,’ but that’s exactly what she wants them to think! She fucks with your head a little. People are so quick to judge and Miley is really challenging that and throwing it in their face, it’s awesome.
Recently, I also saw an interview with Ariana Grande that’s been circling around the internet of her shutting down these guys while she’s doing an interview and they’re just being sexist. In the interview, she is so eloquent and so smart. She’s shutting these people down and is so smooth about it. I really gained a lot of respect for her. She’s so young, but came off as so smart. Even though I don’t listen to these people’s music, I appreciate the kind of people they are. There have been a lot of stars out there who have been kind of shitty and aren’t really worth speaking about.
POPULOVE: What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to express themself?
Stella: Give it time. There were times that, as an artist, even I find it hard to express myself sometimes. Sometimes you just have to ride it out. I want to touch on the fact that since I’ve been working with Melanie I’ve been getting an out pour of young people getting in contact with me. It’s surreal. I remember what it was like to be [their age] and I remember how difficult it was in such a different way than it’s difficult now as an adult. It was like so much about confusion of who I was and whether or not I was okay. I feel for these kids. Life is not easy and it’s confusing. We didn’t have the internet when I was a kid! It was becoming a thing when I was like 14 or 15, but that was like message board sites. Now they have social media shoving everything in their face all the time. Like I think about the ideas they must form about themselves from that. Social media from famous people and even people like me, it makes it look like my life is way different than it actually is and like everything is perfect. I get message from very young kids saying like ‘How did you lose weight?’ It’s just like oh my gosh, don’t think you aren’t good enough! You’re so young. You just need to find a way to love yourself, and it’s so hard when you’re trying to make sense of beauty and make sense of sex. It’s just all thrown at you at that age. I feel for these kids. I am happy to talk to them when I can and let them know they’re cool!