Shaquille “Shaq” Palmer is a self-made celebrity stylist and he understands the assignment when it comes to fashion. Already, in his young career, Palmer has styled for an impressive star-studded list of clients, including City Girls, Trina, Diddy, Serena Williams and Nicki Minaj, to name a few.
Interview by Angel Neal
What prompted your interests and subsequently, your foray into the fashion industry?
So I’ve always been into fashion, I was that kid that went to school, and always had dope clothes on, stuff that people wanted to wear. People always in school always thought that I never wore anything twice. But in reality, of course, you know, I was wearing things twice, but I was just able dress them a certain way to the point where you would have never knew that I may have had it on three days ago. I feel like I was just born with style. I moved to Miami in 2013 and I was a brand ambassador and originally moved to go to school for visual merchandising. I needed to figure out how I was going to start my career. Living in Miami I knew I needed to connect with Trina or someone like Pitbull because they are pillar’s in the foundation of Miami. I just remember, finding out where Trina lived. I was able to finesse, knocking on her front door and leaving her a note in a coconut water delivery. She decided to give take a chance on me and the rest is history.
"When working on jobs, the first thing you need to ask your client is what are their restrictions."
WHAT'S THE BIGGIEST MISSCONCEPTION OF A CELEBRITY WARDROBE STYLIST?
I think the biggest misconception is what goes on behind the scenes. Its not just a typical day of going to the mall and buying stuff. The time and dedication that goes along with this career is time consuming. You can get called for big projects from different celebrities at the last minute, so you have to be able to think on your toes. Sometimes you may have only one day to secure a look. What people don’t realize is the amount of effort you put into creating a look. Not to mention, when you have to take shipping into consideration, overnight does not always mean overnight, their may be delays and you have to be prepared with a backup. A lot of times the art that I'm putting out in the world is a shared art. So another misconception is lack of compromise, theres no way around that.
There are so many different avenues in wardrobe styling, what made you want to focus on celebrity styling?
One of my first clients wasn’t actually a celebrity he was just a gentlemen with money. I worked with him for a few and I realized, the everyday client is cool, but you want to be with the celebrities you want the notoriety you want all of those things that come with a celebrity client. Having that notoriety and people knowing that you styled this person and you’re around this person is a different type of fulfillment. I also believe you really can get further in your career working with celebrities versus the everyday person.
So beyond red carpet style, you also do performance looks and videos What do you like most about these different mediums?
What I love about styling performance looks, is that element of freedom. You just have a level of freedom to do whatever it is that you want to do and be creative. You can’t always be creative with the everyday look. You just can’t walk outside everyday in a bedazzled jumpsuit. So, performance looks are definitely my go-to styling medium. Videos are also fun. Identity is a big word, and I always want all my clients to feel like they have their own identities and it’s not something that I’m just throwing on them.
So we speak about creativity, but what other areas besides fashion do people need to understand to make their job make it as a job in the fashion industry?
The business side of things. You need to have your contracts in order. Having a growing contact list, researching emerging designers and just making sure you are creating relationships with designers, showrooms and people in the industry.
Do you have like a specific philosophy when it comes to style?
When I’m working depending on the project and the person, I normally like to start of with the shoes for the look before I do anything else. You can pick out a whole outfit and the shoe just may not go. Some people choose to style top to bottom and secure the look and worry about the shoes last. But personally for me, I feel like shoes is a big part of detailing. If you have a bomb shoe on you can compliment even the plainest look.
How did costume designing come about for the film Secret Society 2?
You know, its so crazy because Miasha and I are both from Philly. I had seen part one so I was already a fan of the movie. I just happened to be a normal person just watching it and I think I might have followed her on Instagram. She followed me back and we began instant messaging each other. We went to lunch on South Beach and just started bouncing ideas off each other and the opportunity presented itself to do the styling for the film. I think I was able to nail the vision and aesthetic of the characters. Overall I'm so grateful for that project, I often get compliments about the memorable looks from the film. It took about 3days and market research in LA to piece the looks together. I look forward to working on the third adaption of the movie. I'm ready to create more iconic and fun looks for the cast.
Celebrity styling has become such a popular career, but it’s never been just about putting outfits together, what skills must people have besides just being fashion forward, or knowing how to dress?
You need to have patience and you need to be able to be creative. In addition you have to be a good listener and open to understanding the needs and wants of your clients. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, in the beginning of my career of not listening to what the client wants. When working on jobs, the first thing you need to ask your client is what are their restrictions. Like for instance JT, of the City Girls does not like wearing ankle boots, she’s repeatedly told me, because it makes her feel short. So as her stylist I have to take that in consideration when I’m creating a look. You have to be open to constructive criticism and compromise on a regular basis.