The work of stylist and creative director Jason Bolden goes far beyond the glitz and glamour of the red carpet. With a client list that includes game changing celebrities, he is intentional in working with people who share a desire to shift the culture. Named one of the industry’s Most Powerful Stylists, both his work and his ethos are the embodiment of influence. He has used his platform to speak about his experience of being a person of color in the fashion industry with eloquence and meaningful impact. Following the Design Unfolded event powered by Samsung, for which he was a panelist, HYPEBEAST sat down with Bolden to discuss creating change through fashion and the most moving moments of his career.
How did you go from medical school to becoming a stylist to some of the most influential names in Hollywood?
I grew up in the Midwest where most people go into law or medicine or become a teacher. I’ve always been drawn to fashion and design, but went to medical school and never really loved it. Eventually I opened up a vintage store, which was a very easy thing to do because the cost of merchandise is very low. And I did my first pop-up in New York on Greene Street and one of my dear and best friends asked me to dress her for an event. It was just friends being friends, but it was online the next day and the calls came rolling in.
I’m always very interested and intrigued by my client’s points of views and what they’re fighting against and what they have to say
You’ve curated an amazing client list. How do you create a message through fashion with who you choose to dress and how you choose to dress them?
I have an opportunity to be very conscious of the clients that I get to collect — and I’m saying collect because I look at them like beautiful books because they always take me on these amazing journeys. I have a beautiful library now of amazing people. For me, I’m always very interested and intrigued by my client’s points of views and what they’re fighting against and what they have to say. I think the biggest thing is what they have to say because what they have to say actually helps me select the looks for them.
Maybe two or three seasons ago, I was sitting at a fashion show and it was the most amazing thing. This particular show just made me cry. In that moment I saw every single one of my clients in one of those dresses — it was like they were all walking towards me in these looks. So the idea that a designer can actually take all of that magic and all that art and all those threads and literally unconsciously make them for me, it was the most amazing thing. Being able to have very impactful clients and then experiencing that show and to see these beautiful black women walk down the runway, it just very out of body and it felt so new and it felt so, so about time.
I’ve allowed my work to not just be completely focused on beautiful clothes.
You are one of the most influential stylists in the game. Why do you think that you are influential?
Well, first of all, I like to think I’m pretty good at my job [laughs]. I think I’ve also allowed my work to not just be completely focused on beautiful clothes. My work is also based upon the voices of so many people who look like me and so many people who finally get to actually see someone who comes from a different space. You see the world shifting and you see more people wanting to see people who they can relate to because, ultimately, you really can’t relate to a lot of these people. I think that’s where the influence comes in, because you have so many kids for who their dreams now seem a bit more tangible.
While I have you, as a creative, I’m curious how the Samsung Galaxy Fold fits into your lifestyle.
For me, it’s the imagery and what it captures. It’s undeniable. When I have [the Galaxy Fold] in my hand when I’m shooting with my clients, it’s the imagery that we want to use. The idea of having something that’s so crisp and so precise for me, it helps in everything I do. When I’m doing loads of things that I need to send out to people, it’s very easy for me to show every single detail.
In case you missed it, Bolden joined Borre Akkersdijk and Elliott Round for a panel discussion at the Design Unfolded event powered by Samsung.