First, the backstory. Imagine two precocious girls daydreaming of a thriving career in fashion, plotting and planning their great escape from Placerville to Los Angeles. Like most daydreamers, the two packed little belongings as they headed south to a “tiny one bedroom apartment.” Fueled by hopes the girls meet up with more fashion forward females. “There was only one bed in our tiny apartment that we all shared. We’d sleep opposite ways, [fond giggle] it was the only way all four of us girls could fit.” With little to live on, the clan supported the other’s aspirations and manifested opportunities.
Those two precocious girls? One was Christy Dawn, the other, Leah Adicoff.
Leah has an impressive resume styling for Teen Vogue, Flaunt, and NY Times (just to name a few). And sure, when you peruse her Insta feed you’ll witness a gritty, beautiful, rawness that reflects in her work as much as her personal life, but sprinkle a little badass and a whole lotta sweet in there too.
Story and Interview by Chasity Glass
Where did the dream of fashion begin?
Coming from a small town, a middle of nowhere town called Cool (30 minutes from Placerville, CA) I was always seeking to express myself creatively. I didn’t know how to do that, so I would go to thrift stores and buy things that were wacky and wild and vintage. Then, I’d bring the items home and put them together in unique, interesting ways. I would rush home after buying $10 worth of weird, obscure stuff at Goodwill and try to create something special and beautiful. It’s what ignited by passion for styling. I’d create something that was not-so-great into something that someone would say, “wow” over. Styling was my chance to leave my hometown and find like-minded people who were creative and inspiring. As soon as I came to LA I was like, ‘this is my place, this is my city, and these are my people.' So I went to fashion school for four years to turn my dream into reality.
Why LA over the fashion forward NY?
As soon as I moved to LA, I knew this was it. I did consider going to NY to get that broad fashion background, but California has always inspired me, driven me, so it was the more natural, more perfect fit. NY has always been the fashion capital, but as far as being fashion forward, I think LA is making a real run at it right now.
What does it mean to you to be a stylist?
It’s about creating something that is unexpected and beautiful and out of the ordinary. Perhaps something you didn’t see coming. Whether it’s a model, or an artist, or a friend, I love creating an interesting and stunning look. Something they wouldn’t have thought to put together before that looks amazing. I wake up every day and feel so fortunate that I get to do what I love for a living. [A big laugh] did that answer your question?
Yes. Perfectly. Okay, the clique question everyone asks a creative person. What inspires you?
My fiancée inspires me a lot. He has the best fashion sense that I’ve ever seen. He has these wild looks that make you ask, ‘who is that guy?’ He is always my number one inspiration. And then, I’m inspired by anything vintage. I’m similar to Christy in that way. Maybe it’s coming from the same small town where you have to shop vintage to create these unique looks, anything vintage or 70s or tomboy inspires me because that is how I dress in my normal life.
Have you been a stylist for Christy Dawn?
Yes! I was the one who did the very first shoot for Christy Dawn. We were on a road trip to Big Sur, and THEN Aras told us when we were at a gas station [Christy was inside] that he was going to propose. We were like ‘What? That’s amazing!’ And his response was so thoughtful, “I know she would want to have you guys there when I ask her.” It was amazing because it was all of Christy’s friends and her very first shoot with the company and I got to be the one to stylize it!
What do you love about a Christy Dawn dress?
I love that the collection uses dead-stock fabric, so it has that vintage feel I always go to when I’m looking for a dress. Not only is it sustainable, but it’s special and beautiful. Very easy to wear pieces that you want to pluck out of your closet and not have to think about. That perfect simple dress. You just put it on, and it’s effortless.
Define your personal style.
Oh man. It’s so hard to define your own style. If I had to define it, I would say Cali tomboy with a feminine energy to it. I like to wear a lot of vintage 60s and 70s pieces; those are the eras that always seem to rouse me. And I always love a pop of color, black and white with a pop of red. A little twist, a little unexpected.
One piece of clothing you can’t live without?
My leather biker jacket. I wear over everything! Adds that tomboy element.
What do you carry in your pockets?
Safety pins. All. The. Time. I could make a whole outfit out of safety pins.
You’re living your dream, now what?
[Big laugh, long pause] I always have dreams... I want to continue to reach people I haven’t styled before and continue to grow my talents. I get super inspired by travel. Helps me to stay in awe of the world and motivate me to create. To keep evolving style and create things I never thought I would before.
What fills your heart?
Doing what I love for a living... and my fiancée. My number one supporter. Being a creative person I have that fear that someone is going to judge my craft, and then I worry that I won’t be good enough in some way. He is there to tell me, “Yes you can, don’t look back.”
Why do you create?
It’s not a choice. It’s something I have to do to feel sane. If I haven’t styled in a week, I will call a bunch of photographers and say, “let’s shoot something just for fun!” cause I always feel like I need to continue to keep creating to keep myself energized. I just love what I do so much. Stylizing isn’t a job for me. It's something I adore, something about it ignites me.
Friday night plans?
Ohmygod. Right now my fiancée and I are about to eat some yummy vegetarian food and binge watch old Twin Peaks episodes. So yeah, good food and Netflix... gosh, that’s such a mellow Friday night.
I think it sounds perfect.
What could you not live without?
I couldn’t live without female friendship. I just love when a group of women get together and share stories about their love and their lives and their careers. I always feel recharged when I hang out with my ladies. It’s energy I crave and need. [A thoughtful laugh] I don’t know, maybe it’s from living in that tiny apartment with Christy. Four girls sharing one bed to pursue our dreams... I just always feel at home when I am with them.