By Eden Dawn
Portland stylist Victoria Mesenbrink has spent the last year racking up more frequent flyer miles than most people do in a decade. The ever-busy married mom of one—husband Fritz is cofounder of stellar branding agency OMFGCO—spent the year jetting to tackle the wardrobe and art direction on shoots all over the world with multiple trips to London, New York, and LA. Recently, she bumped to the next level in the styling world by handling the latest lookbook and video for the one and only Vera Wang. We caught up with Ms. Mesenbrink to get the scoop on styling life.
Tell us a little about what you do for a living and whom you work with?
I get paid to make people look good; it's a dream job. I work with a ton of amazing companies, photographers, and other artists such as Vera Wang (obvi), Nike, Gordon Von Steiner, Billy Kidd the list goes on. I am so lucky to have the chance to travel the world for work and shoot with some of the best people in the industry as well as style some of the top athletes and models in the world.
What was involved in styling this VW lookbook?
This job was one of the most exciting shoots I have ever worked on in my career… I mean... it's VERA WANG! There was a ton of shopping and prep to make sure we had all the essentials for the shoot. Lingerie, tights, thongs (loads of thongs), jewelry, etc. Another important part of my job for this shoot and any is the thought process of really trying to envision the creative coming to life and how I could bring something from a styling point of view to the shoot that is unexpected or not already in the creative. Sometimes processing creative and engulfing your mind into the designers mind is the hardest part of my job. Sort of like an actor prepares for a role is similar to a stylist prepping for a shoot. Other than that, there were all the usual things like on-set styling, managing my team, keeping track of the dresses, and making sure they were well taken care of. There were like over 20 gowns to shoot in one day for the look book aspect and then the film had 6 scenarios so it was a very ambitious day to say the least.
Was Vera there and hands-on for the shoot?
Yes, Vera was with us the entire day from start to finish. She is a very hands-on designer. Nothing got by her unnoticed. It was really amazing working with her directly and watching the way she works. As a stylist you don't often get to work directly with other stylists or designers all the time so I used this job to also learn from Vera. She was incredible…like really incredible. I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity to work so closely with not only Vera, but her whole team as well.
You typically style more in the activewear category—did you feel like this was dramatically different?
A shoot is a shoot and I have done both fashion and athletics as well as print and video. Every shoot is different but there is also a code to making it work. The biggest difference was just working with such a high-end designer whose team is used to working with all the same people. Being the new kid on the block was the most nerve racking, but at the end of it all I felt like I was definitely appreciated and part of the team. It is the most gratifying feeling to be really welcomed and appreciated by a new team, so I was happy about that.
What advice do you have for young Portland stylists?
Work hard, don't be entitled, let yourself fail, always take risks.
Anything big on the horizon?
Yes, actually. I have a new site to be launching in the next two weeks or so (fingers crossed I get the design finished). Working on a line of clothing and potentially opening a retail space in the storefront of my studio on SW Industrial. Eventually, I would like to run my own agency of wardrobe stylists, but for now I'm going to focus on the site, store, line (which is A LOT and maybe a little wishful thinking on my end to make them all a reality).