A Conversation with Karla Welch
The Hollywood super-stylist on design, red carpet symbolism and her best career advice.
The first time I met Karla Welch at a dinner in Toronto, I was impressed. As far as stylists go, her roster of clients—Tracee Ellis Ross, Olivia Wilde, Karlie Kloss and Busy Phillips—is major. But I wasn’t intimidated. Welch has an open, casual and insightful way of drawing you into a conversation. So when the stylist (who is Canadian) came to Vancouver to check out the Cadillac’s latest concept car, the Escala, I jumped at opportunity to chat with her once more. From design trends to career advice, here’s what she had to say.
Are you a car person generally?
“I’m not a huge car person. But I am definitely a design junkie. So it was a really interesting proposal to come and talk about the parallels of design and what luxury means to me. I’m always excited for that sort of outside-the-box thinking, like how cool that Cadillac would want me to come here! Growing up my Dad loved cars, so such an American brand is really interesting to me. The Escala really tapped into fashion. They used Savile row fabrics and cashmere. I love the idea, for example, that if my dad was here, he would think this car was amazing as I do. It’s like a couture car.”
Karla Welch checks out the Cadillac Escala Concept at the Vancouver International Auto Show
Red carpet season has just wrapped, how was this year different than the one before?
“We had a big year. It was amazing movement, the symbolism at the awards show. And it was exciting to be a part of. And its just a moment right? It was a moment in a movement and I hope it pushes us forward to have real change. You know you can’t just be like, ‘oh black dresses,’ it has to be something bigger.”
It also seems like the public is taking more of an interest in the process behind the clothes than the clothes themselves. Like when Christian Siriano revealed the cost of shipping red carpet gowns each season.
“I think it’s the idea of looking at experts and seeing the humanity that goes into one moment. I think it’s important and will lead us into bigger levels of sustainability and thought behind how we make something and what we buy and what we consume. I always say to my daughter, ‘what goes into something, what goes into that apple in your hand right now?'”
There’s room for the red carpet to be more mindful.
“I think so. The human being is a mindful one. It’s such and art and there’s magic. It’s about the movement, and just about better representation. I think designers are really going there with diversity and with different sizing. And being a woman rather than just about the physical.”
You’re nominated for a CAFA this year, congratulations!
“It feels pretty awesome because we have so much to bring outside the border. Like with Greta Constantine, we introduced their showroom and they’re getting on the red carpet. We should be each other’s advocates. We can all be each other’s cheerleaders. I would like to see greater support for Canadian designers and getting them down to the States because at the end of the day that’s the market that is the most accessible and what really counts. There needs to be a dialogue.”
What’s helped you get to where you are?
“The best advice I can give is to find a mentor, find someone and be their go-to person. Find someone and become their apprentice and commit to them and really learn. It’s not just zipping up a dress, what if the zipper breaks? You have to know how to put it back together.”