South African stylist and fashion director David Lerouw Lascurain @thecreativedavid gave us the opportunity to interview him and to know more about his personal and professional career. Having worked as a fashion director for Condé Nast, he doesn’t forget where he comes from and how rough his childhood and teenage years were, doing anything he could to survive.
Despite these tough years, David did anything possible to achieve his dreams, literally saying that he “was damned if that [his passion] was not going to happen” and trying not to go through the wrong path of life.
“Battling determination and depression can be tricky but living each day was the key for me.”
His fashion career started at a very young age. From the age of 7, he was already illustrating and designing but he didn’t want to be a designer, so he found out about the editorial world and he went for it!
Accomplishing such a high position as a fashion director for Condé Nast is not easy, and we were really really curious to know more about David’s experience in the job and his journey. How he began was really curious because he ‘had been approached by the editor in chief of GQ to put together an entire issue of GQ Style, two main fashion editorials, one advertorial and entire stills story as well as a local influencer piece’ as he told us on the exclusive interview.
However, he soon started feeling that ‘what started out as an exciting and wonderful new adventure slowly became a living nightmare’ and he found the job quite monotonous and not at all what he signed up for in the beginning.
My creativity was becoming a job.
That decision was not a hard one and didn’t feel like I failed, in fact, I had achieved so much and it was another great life experience, I knew the industry as I knew it had changed, and I had to move on.
On the other hand, David also works as an advertising stylist and he claims it to be ‘tricky and very varied’ and he loves fashion from a very young age. In addition, fashion is everything for him and he loves his current job and adds that people in this industry what most value about it is the social status and people who would do anything to have better social status. ‘As much as the industry is suffering you will always still have those narcissistic, lost souls that will do whatever it takes to climb.’
The most important part of fashion for me is that I’ve made a career out of doing what I love. It’s not a job. It’s just what I do and love.
Last but not least, and as we always do with creatives, models or anyone we interview is to ask them to give our readers any kind of tip about the industries they work in or life tips. We believe that this helps every one of us and lets us grow in an easier way, knowing that anything is possible in life and we need to support each other. To know what someone has been trough really helps other people in the same position, as well as to encourage them to keep following their dreams.
To know one’s worth is extremely important, we are all human so at times someone’s opinion can really throw you. Especially as a creative, your creativity and what you put out is a part of you so when others don’t approve or get it, it can cut deep.
Even though we all know how hard it is to believe in oneself, we all need to know how to be self-confident and pushing a little further everyday, because as David says: ‘if I wasn’t good at it, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have by now.’
For those wanting to pursue a career in the fashion industry, here’s what a very experienced person in this industry has to tell you about it:
This industry is tough, you need a thick skin. It’s not all glamour and glitz. You are more often surrounded by dodgy people than friends who actually care.
As an inspirational quote we wanted to really show the spirit that David wants to transmit in this interview and which we want to boost because it is a really really good advice.
I said YES! Instead of no… the time is definitely now, we don’t know how long or what the foreseeable future holds so follow your interests.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: I’m a South African born stylist and fashion director, been working in the industry for over 12 Years. I relocated to Spain in 2019 with my husband and cat. I’m one of those resourceful, spontaneous creatives. I’ve always been a huge dreamer. It’s helped in tough situations, I come from quite a survivalist past. I was adopted into a family that I just didn’t get. I ran away from home many times in search of light, I’ve been homeless and done almost every job possible to get me through and to survive. I knew from a young age that there was a plan, if I went off the rails and took the path of drugs and gave up, there would be no one to pick up the pieces so stayed clear of that, I only had myself and my passion and I was damned if that was not going to happen. Battling determination and depression can be tricky but living each day was the key for me. I was always a bit of a loner venturing into my imagination in order to help me cope.
Q: And what about your professional career?
A: My career in fashion and the advertising industry started when I assisted a fashion director on a GQ editorial and I saw the spread and cover on the newsstands and realized that this is what I want to do. I was always in love with fashion and I started illustrating and designing when I was around 7, I love to draw. But I never wanted to be a designer, as much as I was told to. However, I knew I wanted to be in the industry. Ironically, many years later I became Fashion Director at Condé Nast SA. I’m kind of a jack of all trades, in South Africa one has to be, so whether it’s art, wardrobe department… many “fashion” people don’t do TV commercials and visa versa, but I enjoy the process of the two very different worlds.
Q: How was your experience working as a fashion director for Condé Nast and how has been your journey in order to achieve such a high position? Was it easy getting the job?
A: My venture into the world of media and publication came as a surprise, I had been approached by the editor in chief of GQ to put together an entire issue of GQ Style, two main fashion editorials, one Advertorial and entire stills story as well as a local influencer piece. A top UK team and the award-winning photographer Neil Kirk flew into SA to handle it all. It was a baptism by fire, with a minimal budget and total creative freedom I just went for it. The results were great. The international team highly recommended me, and so a few weeks after I was invited to interview for FD. A 30 min interview turned into a 2-hour conversation with a panel of 5, we laughed and got along. I had zero magazine experience except for the issue I just completed, zero education, but I know my stuff and a week later I found out I got a job. In the process, it was decided they needed two fashion directors, one for GQ and one for Glamour.
I moved to Glamour as they had a smaller team and no editor in chief at the time. This was awesome as I was listened too and respected by a very talented team of strong women. There were rumors of a new EIC being appointed and the opinions were mixed. What started out as an exciting and wonderful new adventure slowly became a living nightmare. Magazines are not what they used to be and it’s a very tough business to keep afloat, online is everything and pressure is real. It’s competitive and can be quite empty and cutthroat – when the sales are more important than the content it loses its spark.
Q: Can you tell us which are the duties of a fashion director and about your experience with Condé Nast?
A: Planning planning and planning. Building content, creating schedules and planning… I think my personal experience is quite different from other FD’s – It’s not at all a glamorous life! Work is work. What you see in movies has some truth to it but that’s not the reality. Booking the creative teams, models and making seasonal mood boards and working out the logistics with very minimal budgets is the name of the game. Making sure you go to launches and events and build relationships with brands that could be potential advertising clients. We would only shoot and have a fun day on set once a month – the rest is planning and selling. I found it quite monotonous and not at all what I signed up for. This world was just not for me… my creativity was becoming a job.
I’ve learned a lot from the experience and it definitely taught me to respect my self worth and work ethics a lot more and through all of it, I opened many doors for myself and made some great connections along the way.
Unfortunately, like so many, we went through a massive restructuring and retrenchment, I knew my decision would be to call it a day. That decision was not a hard one and didn’t feel like I failed, in fact, I had achieved so much and it was another great life experience, I knew the industry as I knew it had changed, and I had to move on.
Q: What does fashion mean to you? How has it changed your life?
A: Fashion is a massive part of my life, I was always into the awards shows, pageants and old Hollywood stars and their outfits. I love to draw and design, it was an escape and I’m obsessed with studio 54, Halston and YSL, disco and the 70s – huge influence on me. The freedom, the change and expression- I find that era very liberating
Q: How does a fashion stylist work?
A: Fashion styling is tricky and very varied, I will have a brief, I’ll create mood boards and in the pre-production meeting with a client present it with what the ad agency has come up with and once approved I have to make it happen. Sometimes there is a budget for an art department and sometimes not… in that case I’m building a set, steaming clothes and making sure models and clothing are prepped and sometimes advising the team on the mood and feel and then ultimately being on set to make sure each shot is executed with precision. The eye is always in the detail, I notice in many tv commercials and shoots when something is missing, un-steamed or not fitting hahaha.
In Europe, it is different as you are given a lot more say depending on your experience. So I take on more of a fashion direction role. Overseeing all creative designs in order to make the end result for the brief.
Q: Which is the most important part of fashion for you? What do you like the most and the least about fashion?
A: The most important part of fashion for me is that I’ve made a career out of doing what I love. It’s not a job. It’s just what I do and love. On the other side are many who value their status and social circle, you see them at fashion weeks and events mincing around and think to yourself… honey I know what it’s like, take it down a notch. So as much as the industry is suffering you will always still have those narcissistic, lost souls that will do whatever it takes to climb.
Q: Do you think fashion is evolving? Comment anything about the evolution of fashion.
A: I think many designers and brands are changing, how much is true one will never know, I feel that the trans-seasonal aspect of fashion is awesome. Blurring lines break boundaries which intern eliminates discrimination and prejudice. Fashion is becoming fluid. I’ve always colored outside the lines when I style, that’s just how I like to do it. Organic with minimal planning.
Q: What inspires you and which lessons is life teaching you?
A: To know one’s worth is extremely important, we are all human so at times someone’s opinion can really throw you. Especially as a creative, your creativity and what you put out is a part of you so when others don’t approve or get it, it can cut deep. I have a messed up childhood but there are many out there with much worse stories and each day I see stories of individuals overcoming circumstances they were not in control of. I managed to look ahead and just go go go. So if I wasn’t good at it, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have by now.
Q: Would you like to give some advice to anyone who would like to pursue a career as a magazine editor, stylist or anything you’ve worked for? You can also tell us the experiences you’ve had through your career and personal life. Any kind of advice is welcomed.
A: Advice these days is such a difficult thing to give, everyone especially the younger generation thinks they know it all lol. We are living in such surreal times – I knew in my soul that I was destined to do what I do, but balance is key. Fashion doesn’t rule my life but it is a massive part of me. This industry is tough, you need a thick skin. It’s not all glamour and glitz. You are more often surrounded by dodgy people than friends who actually care. Have other hobbies, do as much as you can. I’ve lived a full life, I don’t dwell on the struggle. I look back and see that I’ve headed up huge studios, I toured as a singer in a band and I even had an online tv talk show. I said YES! Instead of no… the time is definitely now, we don’t know how long or what the foreseeable future holds so follow your interests. This age has definitely proven that ANYTHING is possible! Things can get much worse but they will also get better. The trick is to know where you want to place your very valuable energy. Don’t waste it.
Exclusive interview for Vanity Teen online!