Andrea Lieberman Wants To Make Your Favorite Things-------
Once upon a time, stylists were the covert agents of the fashion industry. Only those with top-level fashion clearance—designers, editors, photographers, celebrities—knew of their existence. As far as the rest were concerned, the intelligence they passed on about how clothes ought to be worn simply emerged magically out of the zeitgeist. In the past few years, of course, that has changed. but not for Andrea Lieberman, or at least, not until now. After a decade spent finessing the looks of everyone from P. Diddy to Gwyneth Paltrow, the style super-spy is coming out of the shadows with the debut of a contemporary line called A.L.C. For Lieberman, it’s a return to her roots. The Parsons grad began her career in design at Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo. More recently, she worked with client Gwen Stefani on the launch of L.A.M.B. and created her own range of jewelry for Mouawad. “The whole styling thing just kind of fell into my lap,” Lieberman admits. “It was never a career goal. It really served my wanderlust and my whole, kind of, noncommittal, freelance sensibility.” She adds with a laugh, “But now it feels like time to settle down.” Here, Lieberman talks to Style.com about pajamas, packing-friendly fashion, and staying out of the spotlight.
This may sound like a ridiculous question, but what does a stylist do? Like, what’s an average day?
I think what I’ve always liked about styling is that there really is no such thing as an average day. There have been days where I’m hanging out in my pajamas, paying bills and making phone calls. Then there are days that are just insane, where I’m running from a shoot straight to the airport, so I can catch a flight to Paris. And then there are days where I just wander around, gathering inspiration, and days where I’m coordinating the whole look for a concert tour. It sounds flighty, but I’ve worked pretty hard to operate as a business. And there are constants, like, you’re always communicating with the showrooms, and keeping track of the new collections, and talking to your clients, and so on. People think it’s just a matter of picking out a dress and a handbag and a pair of shoes, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
Does the launch of the Andrea Lieberman line mean no more working out of your pajamas?
Yeah. [Laughs.] I’m OK with that, though. I’ve got my office downtown, and it’s set up so I can bring my 6-month-old to work with me. She’s got her own thing going on over there. I’m looking forward to her hanging out at the office after school when she’s a little older. It’s a whole fantasy.
Was the new-baby part of what made you decide it was time to settle down, professionally? Styling can be such a travel-intensive job.
The two things are definitely related. It’s hard to maintain the pace of styling when you have a kid and you want a family life. But as much as anything, it just felt like the time for something new. And something more…regular, I’d say. A little more “job.” I’ve been running all over the world since I was 16.
Has that informed you, as a designer?
Absolutely. There’s a pretty clear tribal influence in my work, which comes out of the time I’ve spent in Africa. Beyond that, I’m also wary of making anything that can’t be packed. Or, to put it another way, I want to make clothes that a woman wouldn’t dream of leaving behind. I’ve been lucky enough to have this crazy job where, one minute, I’m in L.A. kicking back with friends, and then the next minute I’m off to New York for shows, and after that it’s on to Paris for dinner with an editor, and then I’m on a flight to Ibiza for a shoot. And what I’ve learned is that you travel with your essential pieces, the ones that are flexible enough to accommodate many kinds of situations, like that perfect, knee-length black cashmere cardigan. Or a georgette army parka. As a stylist, you develop a healthy sense of what’s missing in the marketplace, and personally, I always seem to be on the hunt for those kinds of quieter pieces. For whatever reason, those seem to be the hardest ones to find, especially at a price point that doesn’t make your eyes jump out of your head.
Given that you work so much with celebrities, I wonder how you feel about the whole celebrity designer thing. It seems like almost any star with a profile has a brand.
Well, it will be interesting to see how that shakes out, with the economy the way it is. My suspicion is that the brands that are serious—the ones that make good clothes, and that have genuinely established a niche—those brands will do just fine. But the market is pretty oversaturated in general. There’s going to be a recalibration.
Doesn’t the state of the economy make you nervous about launching a new brand now? Or do you feel like your emphasis on clothes that can be worn lots of ways, and lots of times, is in tune with the new mood?
All I can say is that the time felt right for me, personally, to do this. It wouldn’t have made sense to embark on this now if I didn’t know exactly what I want, aesthetically, and in terms of quality and cost. I know that for fashion people, $500 doesn’t seem like a lot to spend on a dress, but most shoppers consider that an investment, and I want to respect that. I’ve worked really hard to create pieces that feel luxurious, but are functional and accessible, too. Maybe that will turn out to work in the new environment. I do sense a certain reserve coming back into style, maybe even a kind of uniform dressing, but done in an effortless and chic way. At the end of the day, though, I’m just trying to make a girl’s favorite things.
It seems like, as a stylist, you’ve chosen to keep yourself in the background. I mean, not to name any names, but you don’t have a television show or anything. Now that your own name is on this line, though, do you feel like it’s time for a more public profile?
You know, in any industry there are the people with big personalities, and the people who like to be a little more low-key. I’ve tended to be low-key, but I don’t have any problem with the stylists who have done otherwise. The business of fashion has changed a lot since I started out. Designers are household names now. The media expects a certain amount of access to the industry that they didn’t have before. And so, because I want my line to be a success, I’m putting myself out there. A bit. As much as possible, though, I’d like to let the clothes do the talking.