Celebrity stylist Beagy Zielinski competes for big break on Glamour magazine’s ‘Dress to Kill’

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With Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Spring 2014 behind her, theGrio caught up with black celebrity stylist Beagy Zielinski to talk about putting her winning style and pragmatic approach to fashion to the test as a competitor on Glamour magazine’s new web series Dress to Kill, hosted by designer and reality star Whitney Port. She also offered theGrio some of her top fashion and beauty tips for fall. (You can catch Zielinski’s killer fashion looks on season one of the web series from now through December.)

Zielinski was introduced to theGrio as a stylist for BET’s Rip the Runway, and as a black high fashion stylist, has commented significantly on the state of black models in fashion. She’s not just stylish, she’s smart to boot! With her vision and confidence, Zielinski seems poised to knock em dead on Dress to Kill. Here’s more on her stellar fashion career.

What is the concept of the web series?

The show is about stylists in New York. We’re given ten minute challenges where we have to style a look. The challenges always seem simple, but then they throw in a twist. You’re only allowed to pull clothes from the work room. Six stylists compete to win the final challenge. The winner styles a feature for Glamour magazine.

Was it tough for you working with limited resources under a time crunch?

As a stylist, part of the job is being able to make something out of nothing. There are lots of different kinds of stylist, but my specialty is Avant Garde Couture. I can style a plastic bag into a look, so I felt up to the challenge.

What does this platform mean to you at this stage in your career?

I’ve worked with Conde Nast before, but overseas. To work with them in the U.S. is huge for any stylist’s career. Some of Glamour’s online videos alone get thousands of views, so the exposure it offers is huge.

You’ve styled for Tyra Banks, Kelly Rowland and a host of other celebrities and high end fashion magazines. How did you think the other stylists on the show measured up to your experience?

There are different types of stylists with different kinds of experience. There were some stylists who I thought were generally more suited to Glamour because their aesthetic was more commercial. I’m not as commercial, but I just trust my work and my eye.

In one episode your look ends up being strikingly similar to another contestant’s. How did you deal with that and why did you ultimately decide not to change it?

Again for me it comes back to being confident in the looks I style and my overall vision. Confidence as an artist is key. Wherever you are, there will be someone who doesn’t understand the vision, which doesn’t mean you’re wrong. There have been lots of suggestions I’ve made on photo shoots that were dropped, and then the trend was on the runway the next season. I’ve learned to trust myself as an artist, which is why I didn’t change the look.

What’s your style philosophy?

I don’t really have a philosophy of style. The way that I work is super organic. People ask me what made me make a certain style decision. It’s very intuitive. In hindsight, I can look back and see why it works, but in the moment it’s about trusting my instincts. Sometimes it doesn’t work, and that’s ok, too.

What would you say are your greatest strengths as a stylist? What distinguishes you from the competition?

As a stylist it’s my confidence that I have in my own art. Nothing anyone says is going to change what I do.  I’ve also lived in many places and, I think because of that, I look at things in a different way. I love to watch at people. I love when people try and go outside of the box with their style. I think that comes from growing up overseas. People in Europe don’t take things as seriously. I bring that sensibility to my art.

Do you have a favorite piece in your closet?

I have moments when I’m obsessed with a piece, but they come and go. I’m not someone who is super attached to things. I love my clothing, shoes and accessories. I mean, I do have my shoe collection insured.  But, if I had to say, right now — I think my leather motorcycle jacket. I can wear it with a dress, or with jeans. Oh, and my Chanel motorcycle boots. They are my fall go-to shoes. It’s key that I’m comfortable. So, I usually wear some sort of legging or really structured jean and some sort of t-shirt.

Any tips for fashion forward women out there?

Before you think about trends, think about your lifestyle and your body type. If you have a long torso and shorter legs, forget low rise jeans. Once you’ve got that covered, then maybe throw in a trend or two, if you want.

Don’t feel the need to be designer head-to-toe. If you spend money on a good designer jacket, shoes, or handbag, those three things can elevate any look. They are more of an investment and will be more timeless. Invest in quality over quantity.

For the fall, get yourself a statement coat and stay away from black and brown this season. It’s all about color.

Can we expect any backstage cat fights on the web series?

There were no cat fights, but there were definitely some attitudes. But, I think part of it is that as artists, we’re just a little bit off. Otherwise we’d be “normal,” and behind a desk. We’re all good friends now. There’s a recognition that no matter who wins, it’s great exposure for all of us, and no one’s going to die either way.

Chase Quinn is a New York City-based culture writer. Follow Chase on Twitter at @chasebquinn.