We’re all products of our environments, but in the case of Kathryn Typaldos’ style philosophy, that’s especially true. “I lived in New Jersey until I was 11, but both my parents grew up in NYC,” she says. “At a certain point, they realized I was turning into a mall rat, and we all moved to the city.” It was a good call. In New York, Typaldos honed her sense of style and drank from an inspiration fire hose that ran the gamut from ’90s street style to elegant uptown grande dames. “At my private school, we had to wear a uniform, and I figured out ways to play with that,” she says. “I brought my Steve Madden loafers to St. Mark’s Place and got platforms put on them. And on the weekends I would dress like a maniac.”
Back then, Typaldos says she was “a big Latin scholar and romance-language nerd, but also grungy and angsty and emo as shit.” Now she has less to be emo about: The Brooklyn-based fashion stylist has an impressive résumé, studded with work with celebs and editorial shoots with the likes of Elle, W and Harper’s Bazaar. She also styled BØRNS’ “Electric Love” video; things went so well that she’s styled every one of his videos since. (“Kat has a contagious energy that makes you excited about creating,” BØRNS enthuses. “She’s always pushing boundaries.”) And while her styling work is thoroughly sophisticated, you can’t entirely take the New Jersey out of the girl. Typaldos laughs, “I still love that mall-rat aesthetic.”
MOLLY SIMMS: Were you always interested in style and clothing?
KATHRYN TYPALDOS: I wasn’t specifically interested in “fashion,” per se, but it was a part of my day-to-day life via music and art and walking down the street. After I graduated from Wesleyan, I was at my little sister’s high school graduation dinner and ended up chatting with a woman who was a headmistress of an elementary school downtown. She introduced me to one of her students’ moms, who was the fashion director of W. I had no background in fashion, but after we talked about styling, I thought it sounded really cool. I did some work for her on a trial basis and got hired to work in the magazine’s accessories closet. It was so intense—18 hours a day, managing shoots with three different people. After a few years, I got a job as an assistant at the magazine, working on massive editorials and photo shoots. Both of those jobs are how I learned my craft.
MS: When did you realize you might make a career styling?
KT: I still give myself that pep talk every day, I truly do. But I’m always trying to learn and evolve as a stylist and go with the flow of how the industry is changing. I went freelance when I was about 27, seven years ago, and it was really daunting and not the right fit for everybody. You have to have thick skin, you have to hustle. But everybody in New York City is a hustler. The highs are high, the lows are low; I’m trying to acclimate a middle ground and just be like, “It’s all good.”
MS: What was your toughest career moment thus far?
KT: Luckily, I’ve never had something horrible happen. In general, the toughest part is when you’re managing a lot of expectations and working with a lot of different personalities and trying to honor everybody’s feelings. I always want to make sure everyone feels respected and can do their job in the most elevated way. Still, I try to take everything with a grain of salt. Even though it’s obviously people’s livelihood and it’s serious, at the end of the day, it’s clothing and clothing is fun.
MS: When did you meet BØRNS?
KT: We met a few years ago through a friend of mine at Interscope when he was writing his debut album, Dopamine. At the time, I’d worked with the bands MGMT and Tanlines and Leaf and a lot of other indie Brooklyn kids. So it was part of my natural landscape. I wanted to start moving toward music in a more realized way. So Garrett [BØRNS] and I FaceTimed and talked Marc Bolan and T. Rex, and he asked me to do the “Electric Love” video. We went full glam and put glitter everywhere. Since then, we’ve done his album art together, and I’ve done all of his videos. We have this fun friendship at the core, too, which is awesome.
MS: Tell me about how your collaboration works.
KT: Creatively, there’s a lot of back and forth. He brings so much to the table, but he doesn’t limit me. He has such a strong creative point of view, such a specific aesthetic, and a really articulated version of what he wants to do. Since he’s down to try anything, he’s a dream to work with. And it doesn’t hurt that he looks fucking amazing in clothing.
MS: What’s your advice for people starting out in the industry?
KT: Find a mentor if you can. With any craft, you need somebody who can advise you, who you trust, who’s willing to share. Also, try to be streamlined and focused, and figure out what it is that you truly like, as opposed to what you should be liking, just because it’s cool or trendy.
MS: What are your big dreams for the future?
KT: I love working with musicians—it’s so intimate, and there’s a longevity to working through an album together. Ideally, I’d like to work with an emerging musician on building a team and a brand and a vision. Kind of oversee their general image, as opposed to just focusing on wardrobe. That’s ultimately the direction I want to go in. That and moving to my favorite Greek island, starting an artist residency and being a poet.