The Shot Caller - Sal Yvat
By Amanda Harth
Sal Yvat is a visionary. I knew of her work for about a year before we met and I admired how each shoot was executed and the intentions of each concept were clear. Her work has pushed the boundaries of how people see fashion through new concepts and dynamic collaborations with other strong creatives like herself. With her digital platform The Look Authority she’s been able to expand on more concepts and feature some of the most stylish people. As a real life chameleon in style, Sal Yvat will again push the boundaries with her latest exhibition on October 4th, “Sunday’s Best” - a live audiovisual homage to southern soul.
AH: Do you have a team that you work with regularly or are you flying solo?
SY: Styling is a collaborative job. Whether I am collaborating with an artist, designer, boutique, or photographer - collaboration is essential… mandatory even. For my brand The Look Authority, I mainly collaborate with Daniel Delgado and Brandon Jones. We all understand each others strengths and vision. I also work with my boo Falyn Huang quite a bit - we get each other too. I also love working with Whitney Middleton. She’s taught me a lot about holding your own and respecting your vision.
AH: What are essential things you need to execute a project successfully? For example, is it a song or a certain type of mood?
SY: To execute a project successfully I have to be really interested in the project or believe in the person or believe that project is a challenge.. When I was a freelancer, I felt like I wasn't doing my best work because I would accept some jobs that I wasn’t interested in simply because I needed the money. But now, I'm grateful that I can and will only work on things that I find absolutely intriguing.
AH: What are your greatest challenges as a stylist based in Chicago?
SY: The lack of showrooms and accessible pulls in Chicago can be fun to work around. Chicago isn’t a major fashion city like New York. The access to certain brands, PR firms, etc is limited but that provides a chance to be extra creative and think outside the box.
AH: What are your thoughts on the current state of the fashion industry as a whole?
SY: I don’t really have a thought? Haha. I am working to create my own industry. I like some houses and brands - but I honestly don’t follow fashion. The influx of black and queer brands like No Sesso is exciting to see. But I think real people are way cooler.
AH: What resources do you use to market your skills to potential clients?
SY: I would say I market myself on Instagram, but I get most of my clients and work through word of mouth. I don’t feel that I am savvy at leveraging my social media presence.. so I just try to show up as my best self on set or on any job I do.
AH: Any personal style regrets from your past?
SY: Nope, I’ve always been supa dupa fly. Time has made me more fly and will continue to make me fly.
AH: Do you currently have any mentors that you look to for wisdom or advice?
SY: Whitney Middleton. She’s taught me a lot about working with music artists, staying true to your vision, and even working on commercials. I wish I had sought out mentors more in the beginning of my styling career.. but everything happens for a reason.
AH: What should fashion designers know when they’re working with a stylist for the first time?
SY: I wouldn’t just say this to designers but to anyone working with a stylist or anyone collaborating with someone - trust and effective communication goes a loooong way.
AH: How has collaborations affected the way you work on a project?
SY: Collaborating has made me way better at what I do. I get to see other people processes and methods. It’s super cool because as an “artist,” I can be kind of stubborn - but in collaborating I have to be flexible.. Because once I decide to work with someone else, the project kinda becomes “our idea”... not just mine. And I often find that I’m the baby in a room. So, it’s great to collaborate with people who have been doing this way longer than I have, and people who are doing things that I want to do. It widens my perspective and proves that there are truly many ways to the pyramid.
AH: Give us three of your style icons:
SY: Icon of the decade - Tracee Ellis Ross - I’ve loved Miss Ross since Girlfriends. She’s always had the eye. She’s gets it. I’m definitely inspired by her effortless glamour.
Icon of year - Elektra from Pose - the costume design on Pose is one of my favorite things about the show. Elektra is so fabulous and over everybody.
Icon of the summer - Megan Carter or @_bellemeg on instagram- her style is so confident and sexy. I’m definitely a fan.
AH: What is your color palette for the fall and winter season?
SY: In general, I’m pretty attracted to warm tones, jewel tones, and pink. I can wear those colors anytime of the year. This fall, I want to wear more pink and purple to contrast the sunless days.
AH: Are there any designers based in Chicago we should be paying attention to?
SY: My favorite Chicago based designer is Chelsey Carter. For now and forever. Also Jacqui Potter is coming out with a new collection soon. Her aesthetic is minimal, modern, and so, so sexy.
AH: What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned as a stylist and businesswoman?
SY: Keep the money straight… gotta have money to be a stylist. Be nice and believe in yourself because people can believe in you - but if doubt is in the mind, nothing will work. And never stop learning. I learn on every set, through every experience. I’m working towards my 10,000 hours when I can call myself a master… until then and even after then I’m gonna forever be a student.
AH: What plans do you have for the rest of 2019 and can you share what you have coming up in 2020?
SY: For the rest of the year, I want to continue enjoying hanging out with my friends and being indulgent. This year I was really focused on cultivating my friendships and personal relationships. In 2020, I plan to be back in the lab, creating more of what I want to create and not pigeon holing myself.. and accepting all of me for who I am.. like who I really am.