What does it take to be a dynamic fashion stylist at the age of 22? Obviously, a killer sense of style, knowledge of the top designers, and a knack for spotting trends. K.J. Moody, a fashion stylist for Wallflower Management and editor of Austere Magazine, got started in the business only four years ago after graduating from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Did we mention that he's also Beyoncé’s cousin? Small detail. Moody speaks with the Observer about his rapid ascent in fashion.
Dallas Observer: Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your passion for styling?
K.J. Moody: I have a couple. The first one was definitely getting signed to an agency. That’s kind of everyone’s dream. Like even being a model, you want to get signed so that you can book jobs. But I think the moment that it dawned on me that this could really be something successful was when I booked a shoot for a campaign in Africa. That’s when I was like, ‘Whoa this could be it … I’m on the right track!’
What was the campaign in Africa about?
So I got the job through social media, which was so crazy. I had done a test shoot with Sean Malcolm, a model, through Dragonfly Agency, and the owner and creative director of the clothing line actually saw the photos on my Instagram. He messaged Sean and me and said, ‘Not only do I want the model, but I want the stylist as well to come and do an international campaign in Africa.’ It was so crazy!
We almost didn’t want to believe it at first, but we ended up flying across the world to Gabon, Africa, to do the campaign. That’s definitely been the most memorable shoot so far. I mean, we were in the jungle in places that hadn’t even really been touched by humans. They had to take machetes and cut branches down from trees just so we could get through some areas!
What would you say sets you apart from other stylists?
I think my attention to detail. So many people want to be a stylist and so many people are great stylists. But I think that what sets apart a normal stylist from a great stylist is the details. You have to look at every single thing. I’ve never been satisfied with any photos I’ve done because I’ll style something and it looks awesome, but then the photo comes out and you look and there’s a wrinkle on the knee! I’m always trying to top myself and reach my personal standards. I never take a job just to take a job. Not because the model is so-and-so or the photographer is so-and-so. I make sure that it’s my aesthetic and it’s going to have an outcome of greatness.
How would you describe your styling aesthetic or signature touch?
Definitely being very clean. Even when I try to be very urban or edgy, it still comes out clean and plain. Also, women in menswear; 90 percent of my portfolio is women in menswear. I think there’s nothing sexier than a woman in men’s trousers or a button-down.
What current trend do you avoid when styling?
Definitely the ’70s vibe! That’s a trend that I’ve never liked. I’m not a fan of the ’70s at all. But because it’s been such a strong trend, as a stylist you have to learn to stay on those trends and still be creative. This year I’ve really been pushed to try the ’70s look, but definitely with my own personal twist on it. It’s actually really fun.
What has inspired and influenced your taste?
I really get inspired by streetwear; not necessarily just one person. Also, just the woman’s body. Long legs in the perfect pair of pants are just so beautiful to me. Definitely silhouettes, body shapes and curves.
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When was the most fashionable you’ve ever felt?
Well this is sad, but it was actually at my great-grandfather’s funeral. Beyoncé’s mom [Tina Knowles, his aunt] looked at me and said, ‘Oh, he has something.’ I think I was still in high school, either 18 or 19, and had just started styling and I still hadn’t really figured out my own style. It was before my big hair, and I had just gotten these big-faced glasses, so I was still learning. And she was like, ‘Yeah, I definitely see it in him.’ That was the one moment I was like, maybe the fashion industry is for me.
What’s next for you?
Just getting better, doing even bigger jobs. I have more and more people wanting to work with me, more and more magazines wanting to work with me. I have some secrets I can’t actually dish yet, but that are coming at the end of the year … and they’re huge. So I’m very excited about that.
Would you ever start your own agency or company?
I was just talking about not having enough African-American models and such, not only in this industry [in general] but especially in Texas. I had a photographer say to me, ‘I have enough in my portfolio.’ Which is so crazy. Definitely if I have the pull to I would love to start my own agency. It would be for everyone, but I would make sure that African-Americans — stylists, photographers, models — actually have jobs. I should not be the only African-American stylist signed to an agency in the Dallas area.
If you could invite any seven people to a dinner party, who would they be?
Of course the queen of fashion, Anna Wintour. Even though she probably wouldn’t speak the entire time. Prince would be number two because he’s an icon and he would throw lots of shade at the dinner. Beyoncé, who probably wouldn’t say anything either, but she’d be dope. Kanye, because he’s loud and he would definitely give great fashion. Oh, and Goldie Hawn! She’s like my main fashion inspiration. She killed it in the ’80s and ’90s. She would have to wear the leotard and shoulder pads. Marni Senofonte, Beyoncé’s stylist, I’m obsessed with her. And June Ambrose, because she’s always a good time, and I feel like we could all learn so much from her.