Meet the Stylist: Lara Backmender

Meet the Stylist - Lara Backmender  

Lara Backmender is a stylist for editorial, advertising and celebrity clientele, and is sought after for her skillful ability to translate creative vision to eye-catching reality! As an alumnus of Parsons School of Design including a semester at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London and a former designer herself, she’s well-versed in a wide range of markets while grounded in her own aesthetic. Lara lives in New York City with clientele on both coasts as well as internationally!

Simply Stylist is excited to introduce you to Lara to hear her story and find out how she got started in the industry. Also, be sure to connect with Lara on her website and Instagram!


SS: Tell us the story behind your favorite wardrobe item

Lara: "This is such a difficult question for me to answer because I don't just have one favorite item. I will tell the story of one of the many favorites I have because I like the sentimental value of this particular item... When I was graduating from Parsons School of Design, I had been interning for designer, Susan Cianciolo, who was sought after and known for her handmade and one-of-a-kind pieces and collections. One of my graduating projects was a competition: to design a fabric for the famous French company Solstis, Bucol. I had a small bolt of the fabric I designed, and Susan Cianciolo offered to drape a dress on me. It was the most moving and touching experience to stand half-naked in front of Susan who was, at that time, my design mentor and have her drape and sculpt this dress on me. I wore that dress proudly to my class' graduating show and felt incredible in it. I ended up winning the fabric competition and received the gold thimble for my design in my category. This dress is sentimental to me because it represents my relationship with Susan Cianciolo and that early success."

SS: What's your most memorable 'panic moment'?

Lara: "I was styling reality star, Whitney Port, for the VMA's one year and had some samples sent over from London by two different designers. I felt that one particular top and skirt by this one designer would be fantastic on her, then did some tailoring to make it fit perfectly. We had very little 'turn around' time to get her look ready - less than an hour before she was to leave. We tried the outfit on with the new tailoring changes only to realize the top was not flattering. I did not have a back up outfit ready nor anything tailored to fit her. It was for sure a 'panic moment'!"

SS: How did you recover from it gracefully?

Lara: "I stayed calm and acted fast; I had to solve this problem in literally minutes. I took another designer top and had her put it on and it magically looked like a dress. I had the tailor quickly sew the top to the skirt while it was on her - in less than fifteen minutes - so that she could make the red carpet in time. It was frantic, but it all worked out. She ended up getting a lot of press from that look!"

SS: What is your favorite era for fashion?

Lara: "I particularly love the 20's - 40's for women's clothing and accessories. I really gravitate to the craftsmanship, certain cuts, fits, textures and embellishments."

SS: What was your big break?

Lara: "I assisted for many many years for some of the top stylists in fashion: one of them being Arianne Phillips. She was always very supportive. Towards the end of my assisting career, she had me work on a press junket for Reese Witherspoon which helped launch me into working on my own."

SS: Whose closet would you most like to raid?

Lara: "In the past, I have contemplated raiding the wardrobes of Marchesa Luisa Casati, Diane Vreeland and Coco Chanel."

SS: Who are your favorite designers?
Lara: "I love so many different designers for their particular esthetic and craft. This is an edited version of some that I have consistently liked over the years and some that don't exist anymore but am inspired by: Balenciaga, Celine, Marni, Martin Margiela, Junya Watanabe, Comme Des Garcon, Hussein Chalayan, Sacai, Dries Van Noten, Madame Gres, Claire McCardell, Elsa Schiaparelli and Madame Vionnet... "