For those who may not know, Jason Bolden is the stylist behind some of the most iconic looks seen on some of your favorite Hollywood entertainers. His ever growing clientele includes ‘Empire’ actress Taraji P Henson, ‘Grown•ish’ actress and activist Yara Shahidi, professional tennis player Serena Williams, actress and singer Venessa Hudgens and we’re just getting started.
INTRODUCTIONS + BACKGROUND INFORMATION
“I’m Jason Bolden. I am a creative director. Most people know me as working with some of the most culture shifting men and women in the arts. I come from really humble beginnings, in the Midwest of Missouri. And coming from the Midwest, this is one career that your parents probably don’t want you to do — being a physician, attorney, engineer, or teacher is the safe and easy way to go. So, I took a risk and left St. Louis right after high school. I moved to Chicago and attended college. I decided that what I wanted to go to school for was not really what I loved. And I found myself, following my intuition. I placed myself in luxury retail, where I respect what’s the closest thing that I could get to fashion.
A lot of what I do right now, probably still today never existed.
I went through the classic stage of just being a person of color, on the planet and now I’m kind of at the forefront of it. I’ve been recognized by The Hollywood Reporter, Business of Fashion (BoF), Vogue, and other stylists and individuals with creative or really strong creative sense. So, my journey now is pretty interesting.
I come from a place where I watch how chic and effortless my grandmother was and how sensible and creative my mother was when it came to furniture and being able to manipulate how how it looks during the winter or summer time. So I’ve always had those sensibilities. Those two iconic women in my life just kind of lead into the iconic women I work with now — Ava DuVernay, Yara Shahidi, Amy Cheryl, Taraji P Henson, and the list goes on and on. Serena Williams.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR WORK ETHIC ALLOWED YOU TO CLIMB UP THE LADDER?
I think what it was, was my gut. And my confidence; my voice. I manifested and believed in what I really felt was true and I knew I could be that. Its like the idea of “everything that on the planet is for you.” So I just always thought subconsciously, that I was already living my life that way.
A lot of it was also immature ego. I believed that I could conquer things, but now looking back, that’s exactly how I constantly try to think; minus the ego. When it comes to my work ethic, It’s always been the same. I think that’s why my career constantly keeps moving — because it just gets stronger and louder. Its just now, I’m just in front of people who actually see it. We have social media, so now people can actually be exposed to the work you put in.
Creating outstanding looks for usual clients was never a problem for Bolden. Each look stems from a client conversation that inspires the look for each occasion.
Being able to involve people and get new points of view should come through conversation. Conversations that I have with Yara, conversations that I have with Taraji, Sasha Blane are all different. Ryan Coogler. It’s pure conversation and it ignites something within me to dig deeper and look into what’s happening on the planet.
I just left Paris and being able to see what Valentino did at the couture shows was eye opening. The show was loaded with women of color that looked like people that I work with. That’s inspiration to me. And that kind of takes me to a space to look at archival things. Like what Johnson Publications did with Ebony and Jet like; it’s allowing me push my knowledge and study a bit more.
A lot of people think its just about the beautiful clothes but you also have to think about what will translate the appropriate way for your clients. Like I can’t put the same thing on Serena Williams that I put on Yara Shahidi. I can’t put the same things that I put on Ava DuVernay on Taraji P Henson. So it’s a bit more.
It’s a bit more if you come to really think about it and it becomes very personal in things that you feel will truly resonate with a person.
For me it’s all a bonus to that to work with those beautiful humans.
BEING A FIRM BELIEVER IN VISION BOARDS + MANIFESTATION
I am a firm believer in a vision board and I put a lot of these people on my board. I really believe in manifestation and the fact that is no one can deny talent. For a really long time in the fashion business, people of color have been denied because we had no real access. We had no real visual space, but now with social media, you have the visual space and cannot deny what the work is. I’ve been able to garner clients just through social media.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CLIENTS ATTRACT YOU TO WORKING WITH THEM?
I love love love substance. I love confidence. I love an outgoing and outstanding voice and I think that’s what it is. When you look at my list my roster of guys and girls they all speak the same language. At the end of the day, it’s you that everybody is fighting for, human rights and rights [just trying to not avoid the uncomfortable conversation that is].
I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who actually understand that and actually want to do something with their platform. I’ve been lucky in that sense. Like all my people pretty much know how to speak the big black language — it’s about shifting the culture.
Putting people at the front who have always deserve the same opportunity.
WHAT IS YOUR STYLE AND APPROACH? DO YOU LIKE TO PHYSICALLY SHOP WITH YOUR CLIENTS OR MEASUREMENTS WILL DO JUST FINE?
I’m a bit different than most stylist. I normally dream of something and when I wake up, I have an idea. Then, I literally just start digging for content that matches; and present it to my client. I don’t normally go shopping with them because they’re also very busy and they’ve entrusted this part of their lives to me, which I’m happy about.
I’m lucky enough to present things to them and they luckily, over the years been enjoying it.
DAY TO DAY SCHEDULE
My day to day schedule is mayhem! I wake up in the morning and start responding to emails. I speak with my assistant and virtually go from showroom to showroom. It’s literally mayhem.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY OF A FASHION STYLIST?
Integrity. No matter what, I think that’s the focus for my life. All the other things will fall in line. After the style and glamour your baseline should be integrity.
WHAT CITY DO YOU BELIEVE HAS THE BEST STYLE?
The city that I feel has the best style is the city I grew up in. I grew up in a space that was super underground, total hipster and a blend of punk. But it was also everything that was like super expensive; like shopping at Neiman Marcus or SAKS and seeing that kind of stuff. So it was it was definitely a range of that.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO HAVING A GOOD TEAM THAT EXECUTES/ PRODUCES GREAT WORK?
I say remove all ego and listen. No ego.
CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO ANY CUSTOM PIECES?
Jason: I hope so. Yeah.
Kadijat: I’d love to see that.
Jason: Me to
ADVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO BUILD
Stick to your integrity. Don’t pay attention to what anybody is up to.
My husband tells me all the time but, I can’t remember. It goes, don’t base your life on applause, because once the applause stop. Thats it. Just do the work for the work’s sake.
A RECENT MOMENT!
Oh my God. I just had to create a look for the Golden Globes! Taraji got her dress the day before the awards. The fit was a custom Vera Wang dress and it was literally just made. She flew in at four o’clock in the afternoon. And yes that is the story of my life.
SPEAKING OF TARAJI, WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH HER? YARA SHAHIDI?
Well working working with Taraji — Taraji is my OG client, she’s the one who I would pretty much say jump started my current career. I love her. Yara is my baby, the voice of the future. When I talk about integrity. Yara is bad! But the bonus is everybody is lovely and amazing.
You know what it is. I love what I do and I’m really confident in what I do. So you know I actually I love it.