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Story:Audio Q&A with C's style director George Kotsiopoulos


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Gazing into a crystal ball to find  the next season’s
hottest look.
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     Stylists who help turn photos into statements earn salaries that range from $150-$200 a day for fashion assistants, to $300-$850 for full-fledged, well-known stylists, depending on location, (Los Angeles and New York stylists’ rates would be higher,) according to Kotsiopoulos. And the pay is as unpredictable as next season's style.  Kotsiopoulos is quick to add that the magazines that pay may not be necessarily be the industry’s most fashionable magazines.

     "TV Guide pays $500 a day, but nobody cares," he said. 


     Kotsiopoulos estimated that most editorial fashion stylists in the Los Angeles area make about $250 to $500 a day. But this figure is flexible, as some can make "anywhere from $750 to $6,000,"  he said.

     However, Kotsiopoulos is not simply a stylist. His background includes stints as a fashion associate and market editor for New York Times Magazine, both from his home base of Los Angeles. He then worked for a few years as a freelance stylist, before landing the job as style director at C Magazine. C showcases the best of the fashion, people and places that define California culture and style. With a circulation of 100,000 and a newsstand distribution of 45,000, C has quickly made an impact in the women's lifestyle magazine category since its launch in August 2005.

      But being an employee at New York Times Magazine is a far cry from the free-lance work of a stylist, Kotsiopoulos said. "The range is vast depending on the size of the magazine," he said. "It can be anywhere from $60,000 to a couple hundred thousand dollars per year."

Starting at the top

     Born and raised in Skokie, Ill., a suburb north of Chicago, Kotsiopoulos stands around five-foot-nine, and doesn't strike an intimidating figure.

     But his clothes speak for themselves. Clad in a gray trench coat with a snug short-sleeved black tee pulled over a colorful collared shirt, straight-legged black jeans, and converse sneakers to match, he is the picture of L.A. urban chic. Style is inherent to this fashion expert.

     "I didn't have to think about this outfit," Kotsiopoulos said, referring to his layered photo shoot ensemble. "It just fell together."

     Apparently, so did his career. He says he naturally fell into his work after a few years as a publicist. "I started working in Los Angeles as an assistant to Elizabeth Stewart who was the creative director at The New York Times Magazine, and I quickly got promoted to fashion associate and market editor," Kotsiopoulos said. “I was in the very fortunate position of having a ‘real’ fashion job while living in L.A.”

     Working with Stewart at the Times , Kotsiopoulos was involved in fashion shoots with some of the industry's top names, including such celebrities as Julia Roberts, Gwen Stefani, and Cate Blancett. "I got to work with the craziest mix of people at the New York Times Magazine," he said. "It was genius."

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A Fashion photo shoot can cost between $2,000 to $40,000 a day, depending on the stylist, the photographer and the model.

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     The ability to let fashion simply "fall together" is what makes his ingrained sense of style so profound. Instinct is a huge part of succeeding as a stylist, and these days people like Kotsiopoulos are key.

      "Having a stylist at the magazine shoot is crucial," said Blaine Zuckerman, a contributing editor for Teen Vogue magazine. "A magazine's whole reputation is based on the actual pieces that are featured. A trained fashion eye knows the difference between next season's couture, this season's ready-to-wear collections, and something pulled from the storage vault."
Selling the reader on a fashion concept through a well-designed photograph is difficult, but actually putting together the photo shoot can be even tougher. 

     "It is critical to have a stylist on set," said Nicole LaMotte, C's photo editor. "They have relationships with the fashion houses to call in the clothes, they keep the theme of the shoot in mind, and they make sure things get nipped and tucked in the right way, while also adding accessories that polish the outfit."

     A day of shooting comes at a high price, ranging anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to $40,000, depending on factors such as location or the caliber of the photographer, according to Margot Frankel, C’s creative director.

 

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