From Shanghai to L.A. – Luca Buzas on Becoming a Hollywood Celebrity Stylist

Luca Buzas has already had quite an international career as a stylist. Shortly after finishing her studies in her native Hungary in 2012 she moved to Shanghai to pursue a career in styling. She soon got on fashion’s radar after having worked with celebrities like actor HuGe and Wuning – Former fashion director of Vogue China, and became an industry staple in China’s fashion capital. 

She then decided to start everything all over again – in sunny California. Luca now works with fashion models, actresses and celebrities in L.A., like Barbara Fialho (Victoria’s Secret Supermodel) Magic Johnson (basketball player and current president of the Los Angeles Lakers),  Alessia Cara (singer and is one of the rising stars of the Hollywood fashion industry). She talks to Trendeavour about starting all over from scratch, and how she’s built up her career with sheer perseverance. 

Tell me a bit about your career so far. What made you become a fashion stylist?

I started my carrier in Shanghai, China. After graduating in Budapest from ModArt International, I moved to China because I got my first job there as a fashion designer at the Stella Lam brand, showcasing their first collection at Shanghai Fashion Week. 

I always loved dreaming up collections, developing projects and brainstorming creative ideas. Styling is all about being up to date with trends, communicating with your clients and finding solutions to what’s fitting for that particular season. 

Why did you choose to move to China in the first place and what was your biggest challenge living there?

I moved to China specifically for fashion work, though I was always in interested in learning about Asian culture. I knew I could learn the most by living in Shanghai and having an immersive experience. 

I moved to China when I was only 22 which allowed me to quickly adapt to the situation of living abroad. Other than the language barrier, my  biggest challenge was understanding the subtle (and not so subtle) societal differences that come with living in a foreign culture. 

The people in Shanghai react to situations differently and their problem solving methods were a departure from what I was used to. The biggest gift I got from Asia is learning to adapt in life, learning what I’m good at, and how I can stand on my feet under any circumstances.

ESSENTIA Commercial styled by Luca Buzas

It must have been quite a change to move to Los Angeles from Shanghai. Why did you decide on leaving such a successful career behind and starting all over in a different country? Could you tell us about the hardships you were facing after the move?

I always wanted to move to Los Angeles so it felt right to start this journey. I always knew that there is a huge creative industry in L.A. but I didn’t know how I would do at first. 

I lived in Shanghai for 5 years and was lucky to travel around Asia but I didn’t see myself living there for another 5-10 years.

I had to decide quickly how the future of my career would take shape. With my mind on the US, everything shifted naturally in the direction of Los Angeles as my next destination. 

It was great living in Asia for as long as I did and I’m very happy I am able to continue my carrier in the US by taking the lessons I learned in Asia and applying them to the industry here in Hollywood.

Before and after I moved, I connected with a lot of producers, advertising agencies and companies in order to start to work and that networking paid off. 

 

“I always tell people that China was the best business school for me because it gave me real life experiences that a classroom never could.”

 

How has living in Los Angeles changed you? What is working like with a team from the States compared to a Chinese team?

I absolutely love living in Los Angeles, you can shoot here every day because the weather is great all year round! In LA everything is very organised and the level of production is really high. In China the industry is developing at the moment so you can shoot on location more easily there but you definitely have to know the good production companies and agencies. 

The fashion scene in China is very international especially in Shanghai and the bigger cities. In comparison to LA, in Shanghai you can wear anything from high fashion to very plain normal street clothes. Here in Los Angeles people have high taste, probably because many celebrities are based here, therefore the quality of fashion and what is trending has to follow. There are many creative, brands, stylists living in LA so it is always exciting to see what’s coming next.

Amanda Gullickson shot by Tarak Reed, styled by Luca Buzas

Who is your ideal client? 

I love to work on TV commercials, fashion shoots and styling individuals/celebrities/actresses as well. I’m a people person and like to discuss everything in detail with my clients. I would love to style more for editorial campaigns like Vogue or Elle, and work more with high end fashion brands such as Gucci, Balmain, or Givenchy. 

Styling celebrities for more red carpet events is definitely on my bucket list as well. I recently worked with Champion and styled Magic Johnson for their 2019 campaign, I loved being on set during that shoot, so styling other well known sport brands like Adidas or Nike would be a dream come true. In the future I would like to work on feature films and TV shows as well.

Magic Johnson for Champion shot by Teddy Fitzhugh, styled by Luca Buzas

Do you take on individual clients or do you style only for commercials and fashion editorials? What type of services do you offer?

I do it all! I do fashion/wardrobe styling, hair and makeup and coordination for shoots, celebrities and individuals. 

For the bulk of my work I am mostly responsible for the creative aspects of production on commercials which includes collaborations with people and different departments on set. 

The work I take on for each job always depends on the scale of the project and how many aspects of the creative direction I’m responsible for.

 

“Styling is largely about relationships — with brands, with publicists, with production companies, with agencies — everyone. It’s also essential to simply be a people person.”

 

What is the most fun part of your job?

I love to do pre-production, that is when many things are decided from the creative aspect of my work. I, of course, also love seeing how things come together at the end of each project. 

And the most challenging?

It has always been the negotiation of budget and time. I need to control these aspects of my job and make sure our team has everything desired by production within budget and the timeframe of the shoot/event date.

How have you managed to make a name for yourself in the industry in such a short amount of time? How do you promote yourself?

When I moved to Los Angeles I got lucky because I met with a commercial production company called Tiger House Films within the first week and we have worked on many projects together since our first meeting. 

Styling is largely about relationships — with brands, with publicists, with production companies, with agencies — everyone. It’s also essential to simply be a people person.  

You need to always hustle and look for the next project, especially when you are freelance or have your own business. If you make an impact, people remember you and recommend you on future collaborations.

Do you have any social media tricks you could share with us? On what platforms are you the most active and why are you focusing on that particular channel?

Instagram is a big thing now in the US and everyone is using it. For a lot of people, they use Instagram as their portfolio because clients can check their work and style right away in an easy to view layout. Clients often decide if your profile fits to the job description directly on that platform. Instagram is really visual so a lot of creatives, including myself,  love to use it to connect to others in their industry.

 

Barbara Fialho shot by Melis + Dainon for Ikaria Resort wear, styling by Luca Buzas

Did you study business or marketing at school? Do you find it difficult to deal with the business side of a creative job?

I always tell people that China was the best business school for me because it gave me real life experiences that a classroom never could. I hadn’t formally studied business or marketing at school, my major was fashion design.

In the creative industry you need to know your own worth and how much things cost in life. The US has a very good system developed over decades of top Hollywood industry productions and the teams here have their average day rate so you can adopt to those rates as yours.

With every client you need to find/agree on rates and once it is settled you can begin the creative side of the job. So in essence, business side of the job allows you to be free creatively.

Your website is always up-to-date with your latest work. How do you find time for all this with the busy schedule you have? Do you work with assistants?

Thank you! I always try to keep my website up to date. I developed the website myself in order to have control over my content. During projects I hire assistants or the production team hires them for me. I always need to find time for website updates and self promotion because that is how new clients find me and it is a very important part of furthering my career.

Birdies commercial styled by Luca

How would you sum up your top 3 lessons learnt throughout your career?

The 3 most important things I’ve learned are to be good in communication, to develop your organisational skills and to have an international mindset so you can be open to any possibilities coming to your way.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming fashion stylists?

Have a good website and social media appearance. Even if you don’t have so much work to showcase yet, still show the best you have and promote yourself so people will recognise your talent. Be outgoing, attend at events, work as an assistant so you can learn from experiences in the field.

What are your plans for 2019?

Travel more for work, expand my client list and get involved in more exciting and creative projects. 2018 was amazing as I worked with so many great clients, teams and creatives. I would like to keep the momentum going and keep growing here in Los Angeles. 

Main image and closing image: Luca Buzas by 1817 Creatives, photographer Remy Tortosa

 

Emesha Nagy

Designer, creative director and consultant. With over a decade of experience in the fashion industry, she wants to share her love for fashion, contemporary art, and thoughtful discussion on fashion and retail industries.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Join the TRENDEAVOUR tribe!

We send love letters. Trust us, you want in!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.