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Welcome to Local Legends, a new monthly feature that celebrates our city's most stylish characters.
"It's not like I said I was going to be a fashion stylist," says Christie Moeller, who is probably the most well-known fashion stylist in Las Vegas. Her work has her styling celebrities in town for a gig and models picked for magazine spreads, commercials and ad campaigns.
Moeller got her start down this career path in high school theater. "I wanted to be in the plays, but I always ended up building sets and making costumes. I got a scholarship to UNLV for costume design," she says. Moeller switched majors to TV and film so she could work on documentaries. "But I was building sets and making costumes and I didn't want to do that."
She ended up with a yearlong internship with the Nevada Film Commission, where she met a lot of the contacts she uses today. Moeller went on to work as a personal assistant on commercials and TV shows and then in wardrobe, and then landed with magicians Penn & Teller, working with them on set design, costuming and styling. "That's the greatest education I could have ever had."
Five years later she moved to Los Angeles to work on a crime show before she came back to Las Vegas, where she met photographer Jerry Metellus, now the man who hires her for many of her big gigs. "We had the town locked up," she says. "No one else understood fashion. We were groundbreaking, willing to take risks. Now the market has grown and gone crazy."
Now Moeller works on major international and national campaigns and commercials. Just last week, a photo shoot she worked on with celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis appeared in Parade magazine. Moeller says the Food Network star's stylist was busy on the day of the shoot during the opening of her restaurant at The Cromwell, so she stepped in.
She worked with musician Carlos Santana, Andre Agassi ("he's the sweetest guy in the world"), singers Donnie Osmond and Olivia Newton John, model Chrissy Tiegen and more. "A lot of times I get hired to work with celebrities taking care of own clothing," she says, mentioning actor Russell Brand and the work she did on the Get Him to the Greek promos. "I didn't go shopping for them."
Moeller styled shoots for Bombay Sapphire for a layout she's done for the past three years in GQ. She is the fashion director for Vegas Player, the magazine from Caesars Entertainment, and does work with M Life Magazine, the publication from MGM Resorts. She writes about fashion for Desert Companion and even has her own blog, I Can Style U, that she started to give models tips on how to do their jobs.
In fact, ask Moeller about her pet peeves with models and she responds, "Oh my God, you want me to get started?"
Her biggest beef is when models complain. "Let's face it. You're being paid to look pretty. I know it's hot. I know it's cold. Don't complain about what I'm putting on. It's what the client wants. Don't complain."
Sometimes models leave the clothes they're wearing on the floor. Once Moeller found a $5,000 gown "wadded up in a ball next to the toilet."
Other issues: Models who don't wear deodorant. Models who wear perfumed sparkling bronzes. Models who smoke in clothes. Models who drink coffee during wedding shoot and spill on their white gowns. Models who don't wear underwear.
"That's the entire reason I started my blog. I was going through my own money for underwear. I had a Cosabella account just for underwear."
Her blog has become such a hit that once she had a model tell another that she should spit out her gum. "You'd better spit that out or Christie is going to write about it on her blog."
Perhaps her longest day came when she worked for 36 hours straight on a commercial for a hotel. She prepped and did fittings on the same day as the shoot that night that took 14 hours. The next day she had to do more shopping for changes for another 14-hour shoot.
"The big lesson I learned is that my rate is for 10 hours. After that, it's overtime," she says.
After so many years in the business, Moeller has her own styling closet in her garage, but don't expect to find racks of Louis Vuitton clothes and Manolo Blahnik shoes. She collected this closet mainly for commercials and can style extras with the attire in there.
Most of the clothing she pulls comes either from local stores or the designers themselves. "If it's for a music video or for a celebrity, I do a pull from a store. I'll have clothes shipped in for editorial," she says.
Over the years, she's learned a few things that could help stylists who are trying to get started in the industry. First, she says that a lot of newbies will buy clothes with a credit card and then return it, worn, after a shoot. "Stores catch on," she says. "You will not last in a small town like this." Stylists can check out clothing with a letter of responsibility if they take care of it.
"I think people hire me because I have great relationships with stores," Moeller says.
She says her ability to conceptualize what a client wants is also a big factor. "You can't show up with one red dress when a client says she wants a red dress. I ask what color of red? Do you want a shift, a gown, an A-line? These are all the questions you need to ask. I think a lot of people don't ask those questions and end up with wrong thing."
The newest venture from Moeller is a styling business for the average guy to help him revamp his closet. She offers books on how to shop for themselves and personal styling tips. "This is more aimed at the executive who doesn't have time to go shopping or the young entrepreneur who has to go to client meetings," she says. "These men aren't a mess. They want to update their look. They look at a magazine but have no idea how to do it."
· Model Bootcamp Posts [I Can Style U]
· I Can Style U [Official Site]