It’s Vivienne Westwood’s underwear as outerwear punk crusade, its Alexander McQueen’s explosive catwalk presentations, its Gucci’s accessory invasion, it’s FASHION! Some fish for it out of a clearance bin as explained by Miranda Priestly
(character of the 2006 film adaption of the novel, Devil Wears Prada). Some live vicariously through it by slicing magazine clippings from Vogue, Amica and Cosmopolitan (Cosmo).
Then, there are some who like magicians coordinate garments, accessories and shoes in a way that instantly takes your breath away. They’re called, Stylists. If they can style, write, execute hair, makeup, and fashion layouts, then you can call him, Ty-Ron Mayes.
I celebrated my New Year watching the ball drop in Times Square. My New Year high continued as I prepared for my interview at New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel’s View Lounge with Ty-Ron. I was ironically nervous. Normally, if I were any more laid back, I would be asleep. It wasn’t the mandatory coat check, it wasn’t the chilling elevator ride to the 48th floor, it wasn’t the revolving floor or the 360 degree view of the NYC skyline, it was the fact that I was about to sit down with one of fashion’s elite. Ty-Ron Mayes has Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfrey, Heidi Klum, Lydia Hearst, Mischa Barton and Michelle Rodriguez in his portfolio and covers from Ladies Home Journal, Cosmo and Vogue. His work expands across International Editions of Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue (just to name a few). He has worked all over the world from Germany to South Africa, from Brazil to Italy. I was a little fish in a big pond, drowning, not in water, but in Mayes’ world of Issey Miyake wraps, Marc Jacobs jumpers, Manolo pumps, Giuseppe Zanotti stilettos and Versace, Versace, Versace!
As I floated in a nervous design euphoria with great anticipation, I was rescued by a 6-foot plus man in an earth-tone cowl neck sweater, trendy jeans and Aviator Ferre’ sunglasses that I would give my first-born for, I knew it was him before he said a word and pleasantly set me at ease.
You must understand, Ty-Ron beats faces with cosmetics, drapes bodies with exquisite garments, styles hair with imagination, has access to the top jewelers in the industry all for the sole purpose of creating magazine layouts with remarkable imagination. But with all of the drama at his fingertips, he is amazingly down to earth and explains how he transferred his love for cartoon art and illustration into career in fashion. As a child (age 5 or 6) he learned about proportions and lines by tracing over and duplicating his favorite comic strip characters. He honed those skills as a student at FIT after graduating from The City College of New York with a degree in Pre-Law focusing on the entertainment industry. A transition that he attributes to his supportive family. “I had this moment where either I was going to have to go full force with Law or give Fashion a really good try.” Ty-Ron comes from a legacy of college graduates who achieved professorships, Masters, MBA’a and PHD’s (father, mother, brother and grandfather). “When I came home with Polaroid’s of Oprah, that’s when my Mom said, ok, I’m going to help push you,” he says about his mother, who is a Professor. “My father was more understanding, was a model in his youth, but my mother was a hard nut to crack.”
Ty-Ron metaphorically identifies his love for styling, makeup and hair as his “babies.” “My first child was Styling and you always have an affinity for the first,” he says as he sips his Margarita…even his beverage of choice is fashionable and so stylish that a patron at an adjacent table notices the lime green trim and foam resembling a fluffy cashmere top, and interrupts us to inquire about it.
Ty-Ron‘s other children, Make-up artistry and Hair styling were created out of necessity and raw talent. “When you’re starting out your career as a Stylist you don’t really make a lot of money.” It made sense for Mayes to strengthen those skills. He began to offer physical makeup and hair services that he could bill clients for. His strength as a make-up artist led him to be hand picked by Peter Phillips, head Make-up artist for Chanel and to do make-up for the Chanel Show in Miami, Florida in 2008. Unbeknownst to him, he was asked by Phillips to do Sasha, the opening model’s face for the extravaganza. It was at that event he was able to meet yet another one of his treasured icons, Karl Lagerfeld.
So how does one go from comic books to cosmetics? “I was able to illustrate, draw and manipulate the face through make up, and often pushed the boundaries of the natural planes of the face with heavy augmentation. Once I repositioned the eyes and augmented the nose, the models looked like super heroines to me and with the right hair, it all came together,” as he describes his triple-threat status. “That’s how I was able to juggle the three and bring them together…. Eventually, I was asked to do the make-up and hair on a model for a Harper’s Bazaar shoot when her plane was cancelled. That was the first time I was published for all three.” During his matriculation at FIT, he took illustration and design courses that gave him a broader view of the entire industry. He feels that it is important as an Editor to have a holistic knowledge of the entire industry in order “to package it and sell it to the public.”
“Know the market, know all the publications, know the girl your dressing, know the character your dressing,” with that extensive knowledge, Ty-Ron explains, you are able to interpret and sell products to millions of consumers. He didn’t expect a dual career to arise but it has worked in his favor by awarding him the opportunity to work all over the world as a stylist and artist. Being the Renaissance man that he is, Ty-Ron Mayes discovered that he possessed talent another talent, as a Writer. His work doesn’t start or end with the photo shoot, there is a lot of magic in between. This magical moment happens when Mayes joins with his think tanks of photographers, Senior Editors and Fashion Houses, together at his whim, it all comes to fruition and a moment in fashion history is documented. Photo shoots are sanctuaries for creativity and imagery, using only the most beautiful people as the frame for the sole purpose of entertainment and selling products to the consumer. Never the less, they can also be very stressful, intense and expensive. Some may find it difficult to remain inspired in such an environment and some, like Mayes, thrive in this type of environment.
“A lot of times it’s not just because of me, it’s because I have a great team as well, so I always pull from not only my story and the crazy things that are going on in my head, but also the incredible people that I surround myself with…. They are so inspiring.”
Ty-Ron pulls inspiration from his experience and his vast knowledge of fashion. He studied Fashion history and did a lot of tracking trends through out fashion history believing that it is so important to know where fashion came from so you can project where it is going. “I’m not an island, I don’t stand alone, I have a lot of people around me that, “are getting me and get it. I am so lucky, sometimes they trust me and they’ll follow that crazy idea and they’ll say ‘yes I definitely see where you are going with that’.”
As the View Lounge continued to revolve showing off NYC’s skyline highlights such as the Conde Nast Office, The Empire State Building, and Carnegie Tower, I was drawn back into the world of Ty-Ron Mayes as he recounted his days as an apprentice to world renowned late celebrity photographer, Francesco Scavullo (1921-2004), to his first covers for International Vogue, to his first written interview with the legendary Oscar de la Renta, it was clear that by the turn of the century, Mayes was on the fast track to becoming on of the new rising Celebrity Fashion Stylist/ artist in the industry.
At the beginning of Ty-Ron’s career, Scavullo invited a very young Mayes to work with him on numerous occasions. “This is a legend and I’m a little black guy from the Bronx,” he could not understand why Scavullo wanted to work with him, but he finally agreed. He began working on fashion spreads, styling shoots and attending shows with Scavullo and his equally legendary Editor Sean Byrnes. Ty-Ron worked with Scavullo and Byrnes and they opened his career to a world of prestigious international publications like L’Oficial, Amica, Ladies Home Journal and American Cosmopolitan Magazine, with celebrities like Tyra Banks, Elle McPherson, Bridget Hall and the biggest female celebrity in the world, Oprah Winfrey. “I remember receiving messages on my answering machine from Iman and I saved the tapes in envelopes, because I knew no one would believe me.” He is full of stories, experiences especially as a mentor Scavullo. “He was such a visionary, that he knew that a young black guy that loved fashion would do something different and that’s what kept him fresh… tapping into that youthful energy and in doing so, it gave me instant visibility and kept me working on a very high end.” So high, Mayes was asked to join one of Fashion’s most prestigious agencies, Warren Tricomi as they vowed to handle Mayes’ delicate career. Together with agent Maxine Tall and under the watchful eye of co-owner Edward Tricomi, they navigate and position Mayes for only top jobs like his recent 2010 Clairol Beautiful Collection campaign.
Ty-Ron is like a walking fashion encyclopedia. His experience and knowledge of fashion are priceless and he reveals real human qualities that aren’t normally associated with the “smoke and mirrors” and sometimes shallow world of high end clothing. “You don’t have to hurt others or break people’s spirit,” he says about his personal decision to be kind and not the bitchy, short and nasty traits usually associated with fashion stylists, editors and personalities attached to the business. He continues to remain authentic in a world of here today and gone tomorrow.
His favorite up and coming designers are the Blonds (Phillipe and David Blond). “I think they can do for New York fashion, what Versace did for Italian fashion,” Ty-Ron worked with the duo on a zesty photo shoot for an International edition of Vogue magazine in which he also wrote an exclusive story for the tome. “They really are bringing that energy; it’s fresh, so sparkly, sexy and unexpected.”
The trend that he wishes would never go away is…leggings? “Eventually all good things come to an end but for now, women can wear the shortest skirts or long blouses with them … you can get away with murder when using legging,” he says about the craze that some of fashion’s most elite like Tim Gunn frown upon. “And even girls whose legs are not that pretty can still show off the sexy leg shape.” The fad that he wishes would go away is…tattoos. “They look great when you’re 20, but when you’re 50, you’re going to regret it.” He adds an exclamation point to his distaste for the practice (especially Tramp Stamps—a tattoo on the lower back) he recites a Kim Kardashian quote, “Would you put a bumper sticker on a Bentley?”
Ty-Ron plans to share his world, lifestyle and more ‘Ty-Ronisms’ through an upcoming webzine and book (which is 50% complete). The book will be an international source for women, touching on beauty secrets, exotic recipes, wardrobe balancing, etiquette and so much more. Look for the book to be released with a tour to accompany, “I want to be hands-on, not just a face floating on the shelf.” In addition, he is working on the family collaboration, www.a-mayes-inghealth.com. A nutritional therapy system focusing on natural health pharmaceutical products headed by his father, Dr. John Mayes, PHD and his super smart younger brother Todd Mayes, MBA, who has taken the health management industry by storm and together with his mother, Professor Veronica Mayes, they have come together to form a family business that is black owned and run. “I handle the visuals and the press because of my visibility, my brother manages the products and my father is the salesmen and published author who knows the ins and outs of the health and dietary industry. We have great products such as Probiotics, Omega 3’s and detoxifiers that will keep things moving. This is so important to me because the world is moving towards more and more internet shopping so I say, don’t buy from GNC… buy from me and Amayesing Health will help you look in feel pretty inside and out.” Ty-Ron is excited about the project because, “Good health is the basis of being beautiful.”
With a sigh of relief, I placed my mini cassette recording of the Ty-Ron Mayes interview in an envelope and archive it, just as he did with Iman and with great hopes that an overzealous writer will do the same with my tapes one day. For International and Intercontinental status updates on Ty-Ron Mayes, tag him on facebook, twitter, and the upcoming ty-ronmayes.com and you will be tuned into the stylist who lives his life in backseats, with high heels and a lot of imagination.
Cover Photo by: Photography: Roberto Ligersti