Have you ever wondered who’s the mastermind behind the fashionable looks of stars like Mary J. Blige, Usher and Jennifer Hudson? If the answer is yes, meet Eric Archibald, who has been styling some of Hollywood’s biggest names since he emerged on the fashion scene in 1994. This New York native inspires to create a look that is classically sexy and chic with an edge. ESSENCE.com caught up with the tastemaker, who talks about his senior stylist spot on MTV’s new reality show “Styl’D” and what fuels his passion for fashion.ESSENCE.COM: What about styling pushes you to be creative?
ERIC ARCHIBALD: I love fashion. My mom was a seamstress and my father was a pretty sharp dresser. At a very young age my mom would say that I’d tell her “that doesn’t go with that” and I always wanted to dress my sister. I grew up in New York and I love getting dressed up to go out, and I think clothing speaks as a language. Before you say “hello” people want to check out what you are wearing. I like the impact that when I look at people I see that they are well-dressed. I love fashion from all angles.
ESSENCE.COM: When you see the work of stylists like June Ambrose or Rachel Zoe they clearly create signature looks that have their stamp on it. Describe your styling aesthetic?
ARCHIBALD: It’s funny that you mention June Ambrose because I started out assisting her when I first got into the industry. We had great chemistry when we were working together, because June came from an urban background and I came from high fashion, so it was a nice fusion. I know a lot of people like to push the envelope, but fashion should be real, and I create looks that are well put together and understandable. I think of Michelle Obama, who is always so well put together and she does it with ease by wearing a cardigan or playing with color. Fashion does not have to be complicated to look good.
ESSENCE.com: What celebrity is on your style radar?
ARCHIBALD: I just started working with Jennifer Hudson and I got her ready for the Versace-co-sponsored Whitney Museum Gala. She had this amazing pink tail gown and looked amazing in it. I also just got Jennifer dressed for the 2009 Angel Ball, where she wore this amazing black dress and looked so young and beautiful. I am really excited about dressing her and going forward with her.
ESSENCE.COM: Jennifer Hudson has a great curvy body. Can you give our readers a few styling tips in terms of enhancing a curvaceous shape?
ARCHIBALD: My tip would be, don’t ever be afraid of fashion. Always feel free to try what you want to try. Just make sure that you have on the right undergarments because fit is very important. No matter what your size is you shouldn’t be afraid of fashion, it should be something that works for your body type.
ESSENCE.COM: What trends this fall are on your style radar?
ARCHIBALD: I definitely think sky-high boots over the knee; water flats over the heel, depending on your height; a motorcycle jacket is a must and definitely anything that is rocker. Great cardigans are amazing.
ESSENCE.COM: You’re a co-judge/senior stylist on the new MTV reality show “Styl’D.” What prompted you to join the cast?
ARCHIBALD: My agent actually suggested that I would be a good fit for the show. Whenever I’m in the agency I always make everyone laugh and they thought I would be a good candidate for the show. I am excited about it. It was a great experience and it wasn’t something that I was looking for. I love doing what I do, and I love being able to encourage and give expert advice to these up-and-coming stylists on the show.
ESSENCE.COM: What was it like filming a reality show?
ARCHIBALD: I don’t want to give away too much about the show, but there is lot of drama. I was excited from the first day that we started to shoot. Some of it felt quite elementary, not the way I work; but it’s a new experience for the four aspiring stylists. We worked through some things. Some things blew up and something were great. Wait and watch!