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In New York with Rachel Wirkus

Meet Rachel Wirkus, a New York based celebrity stylist, fashion entrepreneur and wardrobe organisation aficionado. Discover her East Coast essentials, her fashion week favourites and her new line of swimwear, made for real women.

What made you want to be a stylist when you were younger?

I knew I wanted to work in fashion since I was nine years old. Watching Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and the other supermodels of the time on TV, made me realise it would be the best way to channel my creative side. Once I finished high school, I went on to pursue a degree in Fashion Design. It wasn't until my first internship, working with the band Angels and Airwaves, that I realised I wanted to be a stylist.

What three qualities do you think every stylist needs to have?

I think a stylist needs to be creative, outgoing and very patient!

You moved from sunny LA to NYC, how do you think fashion varies from West to East coast?

It doesn't matter where you are going in NYC, you can be as dressed up as you want whereas dressing in LA is definitely more casual; I think both are effortless. I remember when I moved to NYC I was used to wearing workout apparel during the day and nobody was doing that here at the time. Now, active wear is in style and I am very happy about that. I definitely am a jeans and tee girl and now that I live in NYC I do the same look just in all black, paired with a great heel and jacket. You never can go wrong with all black and great accessories.

You work with a loyal and diverse range of A-listers, many of whom call New York home. What are the 'East Coast essentials' you recommend for dressing like a star in New York?

Layering is key in NYC, not only because of the weather but because accessories can make your look. A lush black cashmere coat, a great pair of oversized black sunglasses, a thigh-high suede flat boot, and a classic leather bag are key essentials for Winter. For Summer I would say that a flat sandal, a fun colourful bag, a pair of aviator sunglasses and a floral print vintage style dress are great staples.

You have everyone from supermodels to company CEO's singing your praises for organising their wardrobes. What are your tips for keeping a streamlined closet, especially in confined New York spaces?

When you have smaller spaces, I think it's essential to separate your Fall/Winter clothing from your Spring/Summer clothing. Keep only the clothing for the appropriate season out. This will not only allow for more space, but you will have forgotten what you have stored and it will be like shopping your own wardrobe when you do the switch over.

Rachel Wirkus captured overlooking the New York Stock Exchange.

The iconic Fiji bracelet with featuring pavé-set diamonds, styled by Rachel.

What is your favourite red carpet event in New York and what does it take to get a client gala ready?

There are many places to go in NYC if you want to rent high-end designer gowns. My two favourites are Cloak Wardrobe and Armarium. You can rent beautiful, off-the-runway dresses for a fraction of the price. One can also go to the numerous vintage and consignment stores and find designer clothing in great shape for small prices.

Speaking of tight New York closets - can you share your local tips for consigning? What should we look for when selling and buying?

For non-designer items or pieces that are more worn in, Buffalo Exchange is a fast, easy place to trade in clothing for cash. For high-end designer items there are great companies to send your pieces, companies that will upload and manage your items on eBay. Helper Girls is one that I would recommend for this, they are based in San Diego, California.

When you are buying designer items, especially handbags, you make sure it comes with an authenticity card. If you are spending money on something, you want to make sure you are getting the real deal. When you are selling, include original cards, dust bags and boxes and you will get more money for your item.

What role does jewellery play in styling and do you follow any rules?

Jewellery can make or break the look. I'm a huge fan of layering delicate pieces. Tiny chokers, multiple thin rings and tiny earrings can complement almost any look! When I go for statement pieces I usually pick a beautiful earring and ring combination or a necklace, ring or bracelet combo. Too much becomes distracting.

Rachel styles the Naida Thin Cuff with iconic Fiji and Signature pieces for an elegant everyday look.

Do you have a sentimental piece of jewellery or a piece with a fabulous story?

I recently got engaged, so I would have to say my engagement ring is my favourite piece of jewellery. It is classic and very special to me. Another sentimental piece is a necklace that was passed down to me from my great-grandmother, it is something I will cherish forever. It is a long thin gold chain with coloured heart stone charms; it makes for a great layering piece.

You recently launched Formes, your own line of swimwear for real women. What has New York taught you about being an entrepreneur?

I did! It's been a long time coming and I'm so happy I decided to finally do it. I have to say it is a lot harder than I thought. Things come up on a daily basis that make me adjust my business model, but I know that's part of starting your own business. If it were easy then everyone would do it. Being an entrepreneur is extremely challenging, but so rewarding. I feel lucky to be able to do what I do.

Where can we buy our Formes swimwear in New York and abroad?

Right now we are selling online on our website. We will start trunk shows at the end of next month through the Summer in a few cities in the US and also in London. I want to keep the brand exclusive, but we will be coming into select stores and online shops soon.

Rachel pictured at her apartment in the New York Financial District.

If a beach vacation is not on the agenda anytime soon, can you share a New York spa tip for a stay-cation?

One of my favourite spa days is spent at Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca. When you arrive, you feel like you are in another time and place. There are multiple different pools, saunas and you can schedule for massages as well. It's a real escape from the hustle and bustle of the city!

What are your must-see shows at New York Fashion Week and how will you spend your week?

I will attend all the shows I can fit in around styling my clients. My favourite shows are Cushnie et Ochs, Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu and Proenza Schouler, to name a few. I'm always excited to see what the newer brands are showing. New York City is full of amazing young talent.

Tell us a New York fashion secret…

An oversized coat can make everything better. It doesn't matter what you have underneath, add a great big coat and no one will ever know!

If you could have anything engraved on a Monica Vinader bracelet, what would it be?

"LOVE MY FORMES"- Formes meaning 'shape' or 'curves' in French. Always remember to love yourself, love your body and know that you are worth it.


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