Allison Koehler of Allison Koehler Style + Planning, happens to be one of my favorite people to collaborate with. The road to our meeting was long and winding, and probably the same one John Lennon was referring to when he wrote his song.
We both went to Muhlenberg College, but never met. A few years later I happened to be shooting her sister-in-law’s wedding, but we still didn’t connect. The next year we were both vendors at the Toasted Wedding Event in Brooklyn, and seeing my chance, I quickly ran over to her table to talk. From there I badgered her about a Twin Peaks styled shoot, and the rest is history.
Having Allie at a session is awesome, not only because she has a sharp artistic eye that really enhances a shoot, but because she’s just fun to hang out with and an all-around good person. And my couples love her.
Tell me about yourself!
I’m a left-handed Scorpio from Farmington, CT living in NYC. I played with Barbies until I was 13 and have been obsessed with fashion for as long as I can remember. The Walking Dead is my favorite TV show and I’m a total foodie even though I don’t eat meat. I love big laughs and good drinks.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is the way I introduce myself to the world, everyday, without saying anything. That’s super powerful, especially in a crowded city like NYC. It’s as close to meditation as I get 😉
Why do you recommend having a stylist for a photoshoot?
I always say my ideal client wants a stylist for any of the following reasons: they have no idea what to wear to the point of frustration and lack of interest, they’re afraid to clash/match with their partner, or they love clothes and fashion so much that they can’t imagine not having a stylist. Plus, we always have fun!
How does the styling process work? Say I want your expertise for my engagement session–walk me through from start to finish.
The process is such a blast! I usually chat or meet with my clients to discuss their goals, then I have them fill out a really thorough questionnaire about their unique styles. Then we share and swap inspiration on a top secret Pinterest board, which is always so fun. I end up sourcing 30-40 different pieces for their shoot, and once they pick their favorites, we have an in-person or Skype fitting where they try everything on and we determine the look(s) for the shoot. I love being on site for the actual engagement shoot, but I don’t require it.
What characteristic do your ideal couples all have in common?
Trust! My favorite clients give me carte blanche to do whatever I want and know that I won’t let them look silly.
What problem do you solve for couples?
I have an ability to pair outfits together that coordinate without matching. A lot of my couples have a hard time with that and I think in hiring me that difficulty goes away.
Do you style more for the camera or for the person you’re dressing?
When it’s an engagement or lifestyle shoot, I always style for the person I’m dressing. I’ve done enough shoots at this point that I typically know what will or won’t work on camera, but I have had to make tweaks before. I always love feedback from photographers, though, because our heads are in totally different places during the shoot.
So do you find that your own style affects how you style someone else? For example, if someone’s style is super different than yours or not to your taste, how do you approach that?
I like to remind clients that it’s my job to style them according to their style, not mine. In that way I have to be versatile. With that being said, I like to think my work always looks like my work, which is pretty cool.
Who is your favorite style icon?
Chloe Sevigny is up there for me. She’s a goddess.
What’s the weirdest or most improbable source of inspiration for you?
Weirdly, movies and TV shows from my childhood. 90’s style is so incredibly wonderful.
What’s one of the most difficult things about running a business?
Being the boss. If I have a problem, I can’t really go to my manager and ask for help; I have to rely on my intuition, my (wonderful) colleagues, and my family when I’m stuck.
Any weird styling stories?
I’m usually the person who handles the dress the most on any given wedding day. People freak out about it (THE DREEEEESS!) but it’s one of my favorite things to do.
Who’s your dream client??
Someone who wants to take big risks. (For real though, I have the best clients)
What’s the one piece of clothing you wear the most?
Jeans, a tee, and black boots.
Were you always so stylish or did you have an awkward phase?
Plenty of bad choices were made, but I choose to respect those moments. Better to be the one always taking risks, I think.
You also do day-of coordination. Why do you recommend that couples have someone there on the day-of?
Oh, do yourself a favor and have someone else be in charge on your wedding day! It’s worth every penny, that peace of mind. Even if your venue has a coordinator, it’s essential to have someone who will be there to advocate for you on your big day.
Some retailers are now selling gender-neutral kids clothing, and more and more wedding blogs are featuring shoots that are embracing diversity. Is this influencing the way you style or how you approach a session?
Oh, totally. We have such an opportunity to be uniquely ourselves when we get dressed, it would be a crime to not honor that. Like I said, I love pushing boundaries, new ideas, and taking risks, so anything goes when we’re working together! (Also: there’s a great HBO doc called Suited about a bespoke suit atelier that designs for gender queer and trans individuals. It’s incredible and I highly recommend it!)
My last question is sort of self-serving but…when the tag on a piece of clothing says that I have dry-clean it, do I really?
It depends! I know that’s kind of an annoying answer. Dry cleaning is so bad for the environment, so I’ve begun hand washing all my wool sweaters and silk dry clean only blouses. Those sorts of things don’t need to be dry cleaned (just make sure to lay flat to dry). But, if something is really delicate or beaded, you may want to take it in. Or, do what I do, and ask my Mom ;).
You can see some of our collaborative work in our Twin Peaks styled shoot and Chris + Amy’s engagement shoot
Learn more and get in touch with Allie by visiting her site: allisonkoehler.com.
And follow her on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration: instagram.com/allisonokoehler and facebook.com/AOKStyleandPlanning