- Julia von Boehm is a stylist and consultant and is currently the Fashion Director at InStyle magazine. She runs her own fashion website and her own styling company, JVB.
- Her styling work has been featured everywhere from Harper’s Bazaar to Vogue Germany.
- Boehm has become a favourite for big-name celebs who go to her for style expertise.
- Sitting down for an interview with Business Insider, Boehm talks about her career beginnings, how she balances five different jobs, and how she came to build her fashion empire.
- This is part of Business Insider’s “The Style Series,” highlighting fashion entrepreneurs and businesses across the globe.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Julia von Boehm is many things: a stylist, a consultant, a mother, the fashion director at InStyle magazine, and the editor-in-chief of her own fashion website. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Boehm moved to Paris in 1998 to study briefly at
La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne before leaving to work, first as an
assistant, then as an editor, under the legendary
Carine Roitfeld at French Vogue.
In 2010, Boehm moved to New York City to work as a freelance stylist. Before some of her biggest celebrity clients – including “Bombshell” star Nicole Kidman – are set to hit the red carpet for the Academy Awards, Boehm sat down with Business Insider to talk about her career beginnings and the process of building a fashion empire.
“Very, very early on I had started liking art and everything visual.”
That brought me to fashion at some point. I was actually 10 years old when I decided to not follow the advice of my parents to go to my sister’s school. ‘I want to go to a different school,’ I said, which was a school that taught French as a first foreign language ‘…because [for college] I’m going to move to Paris and I’m going to study fashion design.’
“I didn’t know how many different jobs there were in fashion.”
I started [fashion design school] and I was not particularly good at pattern cutting or sewing. By accident, I met Carine Roitfeld, who was then the first famous stylist in history. I was starting to be friends with assistants of [famed fashion photographer] Mario Testino in Paris because we were all expats – and Hugh Gwyther, who I became really good friends with- obviously knew Carine because they were always on set together. At some point he said to me ‘Yeah, Carine actually is looking for a new assistant.’
“I started as a second assistant for a little bit on set and then I started being her first assistant.”
We were working with Tom Ford on Gucci. But then shortly after, [Roitfeld] actually got called by French Vogue and assigned to become editor-in-chief. She sat me down and she was like ‘Would you come with me to French Vogue if I go there?’ and I said ‘Yeah, of course.’ So I started as her assistant at French Vogue.
“America makes it much easier for small businesses to grow.”
Paris was getting a little small. America seemed to be the better place, the country of opportunities. I founded my company 13 years ago when I moved to New York as a freelancer. I worked for a lot of different magazines, but I wasn’t employed by any of them. It was different then; I just had one assistant with me. Now, I actually have many people who work for me. Delegating is far more important now. It’s like puzzle pieces.
“My job consists of four different jobs, really.”
I am the Fashion Director of InStyle magazine, I’m my own boss in my own company, I style celebrities for everyday and for the red carpet, I do consulting for brands, and I also style fashion shows and do collaborations with brands. Every day is totally different. It’s all the same hat but in different colours; same purpose, but different approaches.
“[Celebrity styling] is something that came out of the blue.”
I was [styling] a couple of celebrities for Harper’s Bazaar US because I was freelancing for [the magazine] and I got along very well with them … They’d have wonderful talent [whom] I found so inspiring. They’re different shapes, they’re different colours, different types of women. It was so inspiring to work with them and collaborate – not just put a dress on them – but to work together.
“One day, someone who I had worked with on a couple of occasions called me.”
[She] was like, ‘I know that’s not really what you do, but can we maybe work together?’ and I loved that so much, although I was so frightened because … [celebrity styling] is a very different beast than just styling for magazines. It’s a very different approach. You have to do everything differently. You have to also keep in mind that the eyes watching you are not ‘fashion people.’
“Learning by doing was my approach, and I had the best teacher.”
It was a wonderful learning process and wonderful feeling that somebody trusted me. I still only work with people that I really love deeply. For me it’s important, because I give everything when I work and I need to do it for somebody that I respect.
As I was shooting a lot with celebrities, she was writing all of their interviews … She called me at some point and asked if I wanted to take a position [at InStyle] and I had said no to so many things before, and so many things after, but because we had this connection … I thought it was a great challenge to bring my knowledge to the magazine.
“I do look for trends, but not really trends.”
It’s more of a subtle ‘what’s going on there.’ For example, the whole political climate has reflected on how women dress lately. Everybody wears blazers; everybody wears men’s shirts and ties. We have a much more “men-sy” approach to how we dress ourselves, but it doesn’t have to read like a trend. It’s just a hint.
“[My website] is kind of like my mini magazine.”
You learn it through doing, because [running a website is] a whole new beast for me. I feel like everybody wants edited content because there’s too much out there, and I would like to give that to people. I’m not trying to speak to everybody. I try to inspire, to give my understanding to people that don’t normally have the access, and share the knowledge, tips, tricks, and the lens that I have into the industry.
“I love mentoring,
but I don’t do it consciously.”
I just do it because I think that’s how I was built … All of my assistants have become really amazing stylists. They’re very good, steady, and hardworking stylists that have a foundation, and that’s one of the things that makes me the happiest.
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