From Beyoncé and Madonna to Amazon Prime Wardrobe – celebrity stylist Alexander Allen talks streetwear, influencers and New York vs LA

Veteran stylist Alexander Allen (left) has joined Amazon Prime Wardrobe. Photo: Getty Images

Fresh off working on wardrobe and costuming for Madonna’s tour, stylist Alexander Allen will assist Amazon Prime Wardrobe with its foray into fashion retail.

Alexander Allen (far left) has joined Amazon Prime Wardrobe team as a stylist. Photo: Instagram @alexanderallenstyle

Allen, a hip-hop industry veteran, has worked with everyone from Eve to Beyoncé, Shakira and Denzel Washington.

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Singer Eve on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, wearing a look styled by Alexander Allen. Photo: Getty Images

He’s also worked in film, television and theatre, with wardrobe, costuming and styling credits on Ocean’s 8, Fox’s Almost Family, Ryan Murphy’s POSE, and Network with Tony Goldwyn. Allen spoke about his career and the way the industry has changed.

Our very first project was with Pink … it was there that I realised, ‘OK, I want to do styling’ – because it was entertainment, it was music, it was fashion – it was also great compensation
Alexander Allen

“I grew up here in Brooklyn, New York”

Alexander Allen. Photo: Instagram @alexanderallenstyle

I’m a native New Yorker, and I was always fascinated with entertainment, music, fashion. I just didn’t know in what capacity I would proceed with that. It wasn’t until I went to college, Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, where I studied telecommunications with a concentration in public relations; that’s where my love for entertainment increased.

“Upon graduation, I came back home and secured an internship at Marie Claire magazine in the fashion department’”


My boss at the time got a job at Donna Karan and she brought me along with her. [There] I befriended a stylist, and our very first project was with Pink, who was virtually unknown at the time. It was there that I realised, “OK, I want to do styling”, because it was entertainment, it was music, it was fashion [all combined]. It was me creating my own schedule. It was also great compensation. It was everything that I wanted, and I just proceeded from there.

“My career has been self-financed”

Alexander Allen at a fashion show in his younger days. Photo: Getty Images

I was the first entrepreneur in my family, so it’s always a huge undertaking doing anything new and not having anyone to ask questions. Luckily I had a great – and still have a great – accountant, and he was the one who helped me formulate my business plan and the ways that I should go about handling my finances.

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“The very first celebrity that I can remember styling is Ananda Lewis, a former MTV video jockey”

Ananda Lewis (right) alongside a young Katie Holmes. Photo: Getty Images

 I [styled Lewis for] Time Inc.’s Teen People magazine. [And] it was thrilling. I was like, “Whoa, look at me. I’m published in Time’s Teen People!” – which was a big deal back in the day. It was the magazine where all of the up-and-coming celebrities were on that cover and on the inside. So it was like, “Wow, not only am I working with Ananda, who I was watching on a daily basis and who was part of my pop culture, but now I’m styling her”. It was a win on so many levels … And it helped establish me as [a stylist].

It’s good to see men taking risks and designers taking risks – Alessandro Michele at Gucci is really revitalising that house. I really love what he has done and what he’s doing.
Alexander Allen

“Back in the day, hip-hop wasn’t where it is now”


We always knew hip hop was electric and was the voice of the streets and street style. [But] these major fashion brands and fashion houses, they weren’t so willing to work with us. Once [I found] a specific [fashion] house [to work with me], I made sure to always reach out to them for each project. That goes back to my PR skills and [knowing the importance of] strengthening relationships.

That was one of the things I was trying to tell Eve is “you know, you don’t see it because you’re the face and you’re the celebrity, but it’s not easy pulling Gucci for you”. Back in the day, it wasn’t easy pulling certain designers for her.

“I honestly do not pay attention to trends”

Alexander Allen sticks to his own style. Photo: Instagram @alexanderallenstyle

Because when you pay attention to trends – and I get it, it’s a whole business and everything – [but] the trends are coming from fashion editors. They’re coming from designers, they’re coming from everyone. So why would I listen to what they have to say? It’s no disrespect, but I like to keep my palate clean and fresh. And to do that, I limit what I see, what I hear, and I just keep it authentic to what I’m feeling. That’s where I operate from.

“Back in the day, men’s style was more conservative”

Artist Takashi Murakami wearing a look styled by Alexander Allen. Photo: Getty Images

It was always the same silhouette, the same patterns … Now, it’s a whole another level where, because of fluidity in reference to sexual preference and gender, the silhouettes have changed even more. It’s good to see men taking risks and also designers taking risks – like with Alessandro Michele at Gucci, how he’s really revitalising that house. I really love what he has done and what he’s doing.

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“The major difference between LA style and New York style …”


In New York, we have sidewalk culture. [In LA], they don’t. They drive everywhere. So where you’ll see their style is in a mall, maybe you’ll see it at a festival, maybe you’ll see it at an awards show. But really New York is where you’re going to see people walking up and down during four different types of seasons.

“I am all for social media influencers”


When I was starting out, before influencers, there were bloggers, and the bloggers were the ones interrupting fashion. You had bloggers who just created a blog who were sitting next to or right behind or in the vicinity of, like, these esteemed and revered fashion editors. So everyone was like, “wait, how did this happen?” Now with influencers, I just see it and I’m not mad.

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“I was always comfortable being behind the scenes and letting my clients lead”

Denzel Washington and Alexander Allen. Photo: Instagram @alexanderallenstyle

But with influencers and with social media, you have to be in front of your talent or be right next to it. I mean, that’s just the way of the world today. That’s something that I had to readjust to.

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider


The hip-hop industry veteran – who has worked with Beyoncé, Shakira, Pink, Eve and Denzel Washington – reflects on changing fashion trends and his A-list career