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Photo by Ed Canas
The budding wardrobe specialist gives us a crash course in the world of celebrity styling.
If the name Seth Brundle rings a bell, you’re probably thinking about the popular 1980’s Sci-Fi thriller, “The Fly”. Chris McMullen, who goes by the nickname Seth Brundle, is flying to new heights in the fashion industry as a celebrity wardrobe specialist.
It is a typical blazing hot day in Los Angeles, and Brundle sits relaxed, unaffected by the heat. Stylishly falling somewhere between a rock star and a rapper, he sports a red and white graphic tee, a black fedora hat, two dangling gold chains, and a full beard. To say that he stands out would fall woefully short of describing his sartorial allure. The self-professed fly guy explains the origin of his name:
“I posted this status on Facebook while I was doing my undergraduate studies at Morehouse,” Brundle explains. “It said, ‘I’m so fly, call me Seth Brundle’, and it kind of stuck because the people who knew about the movie just kept the name going.”
Hailing from Carson, California, Brundle moved to Atlanta after graduating from King Drew Magnet High School to attend Morehouse College, where he majored in Marketing with a minor in Public Relations. He graduated Cum Laude. Unlike many graduates who come out of college jobless, he quickly began working in consumer public relations and became an executive. This may sound like the perfect cookie cutter success story, except for one problem—he was miserable.
“I hated it [Public Relations], Brundle confesses. “I enjoyed the people I worked with, but not the industry. I tried it out for a little while, thinking that’s what I was supposed to do, but I dreaded going to work every day. My dad is a deacon, so I’d call him every day and ask him to pray with me just so I could have the strength to go one more day.”
Nearing his breaking point after three years in PR purgatory, Brundle found the fashion world to be a source of therapy. Having already developed a penchant for fashion blogging, his passion soon caught the attention of others in the styling industry.
“When I was working in PR my blog really caught on. All these other different fashion blogs would do features on me, and I would do features on them. Then I started going to fashion weeks, and I found my outlet to deal with what I did during the day.”
Brundle had an epiphany after a friend urged him to consider pursuing his passion full-time, and he soon resigned from his firm. Soon after his friend Monique “Kitti Fontain” Scott, a celebrity stylist who has worked with artists including Rihanna, Brandy, and Kendrick Lamar, posted an intriguing Facebook status. She was looking for an assistant for a pilot being produced by Idris Elba called “Milk and Honey”. Jumping at the opportunity, he began working with Scott and continued to do so for months. Under Scott’s seasoned eye, he jumped feet first into the industry and was able to work with clients the likes of Faith Evans and Fonzworth Bentley.
Feeling confident in his abilities after a relatively short period of time, Brundle branched out on his own. Today his resume boasts such names as Grammy Award nominated producer/songwriter Kevin McCall (artist on Chris Brown’s record label featured on songs “Deuces” and “Strip”), LeToya Luckett, Teyana Taylor, Issa Rae, Jhene Aiko, and “Glee” actress Amber Riley.
With only two and a half years under his belt, Seth Brundle is definitely making a big splash in the styling industry. While he works primarily on editorials, he also styles for commercials and music videos, and he has his eyes set on expansion. Watch out world—Seth Brundle is about to fly!
The Interview: Seth Brundle reveals the day-to-day routine of a wardrobe specialist, and offers advice on how prospective stylists can get their feet wet in the industry.
How do you become a successful wardrobe specialist? Where do you begin in that industry?
If you are a great stylist you cultivate relationships with designers in showrooms and brand managers. I have relationships with thousands of designers all across LA, New York, and abroad. I started forging those relationships while attending LA Fashion Week events. So I started my relationships there, and then Monique introduced me to that world even more. I didn’t know what a showroom was or what a pull was, but she taught me so much.
Once you have those relationships, where do you go from there?
Say you have an event—for example Monique works with Kendrick Lamar—she’s constantly working with him because he’s constantly busy, so [if he has an event]we both have a rolodex of designers we can pull, or rent clothes from. You pull what you need and then return them. In most cases if the client is big enough, or if the designer is a big fan of the client, they will let you keep the clothes.
What are the costs associated with your line of work?
The fees associated with my line of work are based on the project. I have a base fee that I charge and that price fluctuates depending on the project. The price often times goes up because a lot goes into it. Usually for any shoot I have to drive to 5 to 10 showrooms per day. They are usually in Hollywood, Downtown LA, or Beverly Hills. I then have to sort through the looks, often times photograph and send the looks to the client’s publicist, manager, or producer, and have a fitting with the client. Editorial is usually 3-6 hours, and music videos are a guaranteed 16-hour day.
What are some fashion publications you read? Would you advise aspiring stylists to become more engaged in fashion media?
The kinds of blogs and publications that I read are ones that I like; they don’t help me style. I read Women’s Wear Daily every day to keep up with the news of what’s going on in the fashion world, but I’m not necessarily the trend follower. People always ask me what are the latest trends and I always respond that I don’t know. The only reason I do that research is to make sure that I’m not doing that same thing. In making your mark as a stylist, you want to make sure you’re doing something original that nobody else is doing.
What is some of the best advice you can give to someone who wants to work in the fashion industry?
I always tell people with regards to chasing your dreams and pursuing your passion you really have to put it out there in the universe and let people know what you want to do. When I first began I put myself out there. It [his desire to style] was on Facebook, it was on my blog, it was everywhere!