What does optimistic style look like? Sophie Lopez has a few tips to put you on game

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“I’m more of a style stylist rather than a fashion stylist,” Sophie Lopez explains. “I like personality in outfits, rather than a full head-to-toe runway, even though that’s amazing too.” In working with her clients, who’ve included Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Yalitza Aparicio and Goldie Hawn, Lopez is searching for a “vibe,” an “identity” — whatever it is that makes them human.

Lopez started off styling indie and rock bands: Muse, the Klaxon. It was through rock star Matt Bellamy that Lopez met Kate Hudson, now her most regular client. And it was because of Hudson that Lopez left London, her birthplace, and moved to L.A. 10 years ago to do “the whole Hollywood red-carpet thing.” Lopez shares how nervous she was when Hudson asked her to style her for the Venice Film Festival. Lopez chose a blush, fully beaded Versace gown — “sexy and elegant” — which is still one of her favorite looks to this day. This year, she will be styling Hudson for the Producers Guild and Hollywood Critics Assn. awards, and will be back at the Oscars.

A stylish woman with long dark hair sits on a couch next to a window.

Sophie Lopez in her studio, wearing a Rejina Pyo blouse, Hojsberg pants, Jennifer Fisher hoops and Balenciaga shoes.

(Angella Choe / For The Times)

Sitting on the lime-green couch in her studio, Lopez describes her role as that of an editor: paring down an outfit until it tells the right story. She takes great delight in this whittling down, in clearing out the mess until you see clearly. She does this to her studio on the day I visit, arranging things with intention: the glass container with neatly wound spools of white, red, pink and black string. The corner for her painting tools — the wide brushes, a basket full of tubes. The thick monographs on Andy Warhol, Magritte and Cézanne arranged on top of baby pink, blue and orange filing cabinets. The book on Cartagena, Colombia, the country where her family is from and where she spent many childhood vacations. Whether it’s her clothes, paintings, books or living room, Lopez sees it all as interconnected, as her specific, personal taste. “It’s kind of a style, you know.”

Elisa Wouk Almino: We’re in your studio space. Tell me a little bit about the process. What happens here?

Sophie Lopez: I planned it so that you’d come on a day when it looks nice. I mean, we work in here — the process is not very glamorous; this is where all the unglamorous stuff happens. I have a team that I work with who are amazing. And usually, when we’re in here, the door is constantly ringing because we’re getting deliveries. Clothes and samples arriving. Most of the time, it looks like absolute chaos in here. There are boxes everywhere. There are bags everywhere. There are shoes everywhere. And all of that needs to be hung up, packed up, steamed, ready to be transported to a fitting, packed up again, unpacked at the fitting, brought all back here, then packed all back up and returned. It’s a lot of manual heavy lifting. The fabulous stuff — you probably see that on Instagram — is 5% of the job. This is the 95% of the work.

EWA: What are the kinds of things that you obsess over in your styling work?

A woman in a pink jacket and pants looks at herself in a large mirror.

Lopez wearing Rejina Pyo and Balenciaga shoes. For Lopez, what matters is “personality in outfits.”

(Angella Choe / For The Times)

An orange chair at a wooden desk, with a shelf of books and storage boxes behind it.

A corner of Sophie Lopez’s Los Angeles studio.

(Angella Choe / For The Times)

SL: I’m a bit military style in the way we organize things. I love labels. I love Post-Its, markers, stickers. If we’re packing for junkets, everything is labeled, photographed; there’s a document. It’s part of my process because it helps me think clearly. There’s a bunch of clothes on the rack, and they’re all labeled, so that we know what needs to be altered, what doesn’t need to be altered — it’s all color-coordinated. Whatever brings you joy, you know? That kind of just turns me on.

EWA: How would you describe your style?

SL: Optimistic. I like to have fun with my outfits. I’m not that serious of a person, so my outfits generally are not that serious either. I love to play around with unexpected color combinations. And that’s in everything I do — from looking at art books, like I love Wes Anderson’s color palettes. I look at things like that, and then I’ll be inspired by those things and try to create combinations that I like.

Sophie Lopez, wearing a colorful blouse, leans her head toward her hand, her elbow resting on a desk.

Lopez finds inspiration in cinematography. “I have scenes from films that are literally imprinted in my mind,” she says.

(Angella Choe / For The Times)

A woman in colorful clothes leans against a desk in her office.

Lopez loves looking at art books for color inspiration. Here, she wears a Rejina Pyo blouse, Mango skirt and Arteana shoes.

(Angella Choe / For The Times)

EWA: What makes a client or subject interesting to you?

SL: It’s something about them. For example, Yalitza [Aparicio], who I worked with — I loved her story. I hunted Yalitza down when one of my friends had told me about “Roma”; they’d seen it very early on, maybe at Toronto or Cannes. And he told me her story, how she wasn’t an actress and then she was kind of street cast for this role, and I loved that story. People that I find inspiring, usually I seek out to work with. I like people that also have courage — because it’s scary — but I like girls that have courage on the red carpet, that don’t want to play it too safe.

EWA: What do you think makes a red-carpet look?

SL: The thing is, sometimes the coolest looks are not the ones that are the big, big giant ballgowns. A lot of the time, honestly, it’s the girl. It’s the confidence. Sometimes I think that that is more than anything. And that’s why you’ve got to be careful as a stylist that your client is comfortable in what they’re wearing, in terms of if it’s something that they feel good in and not something that you’ve forced them to wear. Because sometimes I feel like if they have doubt, that comes across on the red carpet. There’s nothing worse than when you go out and you’re not feeling confident in your outfit; you’ve got to go out there and own it. A lot of the time, it’s kind of an attitude. Someone like Zoë Kravitz, she doesn’t have to put it all on. She stands there with such confidence and presence that anything looks amazing. Kate is like that as well.

A woman with long dark hair, standing, wearing a colorful pastel dress.

“Sometimes the coolest looks are not the ones that are the big, big giant ballgowns. A lot of the time, honestly, it’s the girl,” says Lopez, who wears a Rejina Pyo outfit.

(Angella Choe / For The Times)

EWA: What does the awards season typically look like for you?

SL: Every awards season is different because it just depends on what clients you have. I don’t have a lot of clients, so I’m not on every season. This one is kind of a moderate one. There was one year when I had two nominees, that was insane — that was Yalitza and Marina [de Tavira], the “Roma” girls. That awards season, by the time it was over, I felt I had been run over by a train. It was so intense. It was multiple looks a day, every day.

EWA: You’ve named film as a source of inspiration for your work. What is it about cinema, or Hollywood fashion, that excites you?

SL: I do always notice the cinematography and colors — I’m somebody that looks at the overall image, not just my part. I have scenes from films that are literally imprinted in my mind, like Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands,” and the colors that the women wear on that street; they’re in these ’60s, citrusy [outfits] — everything is so precise. I have screenshots of those scenes because I love the way they look and the color balance in all of it. I love the wardrobe in “Casino,” less Michelle Pfeiffer’s wardrobe, I love Robert De Niro’s wardrobe — all the pastels, the tailoring, just obsessed.

A woman in a pink dress stands at the top of a spiral staircase.

“Color seeps into everything — you can see the studio looks this way, my outfits look that way,” says Lopez.

(Angella Choe / For The Times)

EWA: What do you want to be known for as a stylist? What do you feel is your signature?

SL: Color seeps into everything — you can see the studio looks this way, my outfits look that way. If I was to paint something, it would look that way. I don’t paint well, but I paint; I studied art back in the day. I always dreamed of having a creative space that was industrial — it looks exactly like this. This is better than I imagined, actually, when I was starting out. I can shoot here, I have all setups for photography, I have setups to paint. Everything has a little area, so that I can just get weird sometimes by myself. As much as I’m a stylist, I’m more like a creative overall. Fashion is where I ended up, but I feel like I could have easily done something else too. It would always be creative.



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