Not many people get to do what they were born to do. Sadly, the amount of people who truly achieve their dreams is small. Very few people have a passion for something at a young age that leads to a successful and prospering career. Canadian fashion director and wardrobe stylist Kirsten Reader is one of those fortunate few.
“I can't recall when I didn't have a love and personal opinion about fashion and wardrobe,” she said. “My parents struggled with my strong opinions from the age of 2 and on. They had to bargain with just two choices each day and were thrilled with my years at private school as I had to wear a uniform and there were strict rules on styling though I did always work a way to show personal style. I never realized there could be a lucrative career in the field.”
Calgary born and Toronto raised Reader, who actually went to university for pre veterinary medicine and graduating with a BA in Sociology before following her passion of fashion and creating, is now one of Canada’s most sought after stylists. She has styled for TIME magazine, Archibald magazine, fashion designer Christopher Bates, and many more.
“I found I could express myself and other people's feelings, moods, and ideas through wardrobe and clothing and loved what that evoked,” she described. “By putting together a specific style I could create a mood and feeling for the individual wearing the look as well as those looking at them or the image.”
Reader’s career really took off in 2009 after ReThink Breast Cancer ‘Save the Boobs!” campaign. The project involved working with the star of the video Aliya-Jasmine and the creative concept of the video to promote the Booby Ball Gala.
“The characters were so cartoonish that it was a lot of fun bringing them to life and seeing the response after the video was released,” said Reader. “The project blew up when it was released and made news throughout Canada and the United States in major media outlets truly making it a viral video campaign.”
Reader is always looking for projects that give the opportunity to give back, and said she never says no to a project that is for charity.
“I felt lucky to work with these amazing individuals on a project that later would become a very special personal charity with many of the women in my family having been diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said. “I also lucked out and developed long-lasting friendships with some of the team.”
Success continued for Reader when she worked for the Capezio x MTV Fora Campaign. The project involved looking at the major fashion trends for spring 2013 that fit with the Capezio shoe clientele to promote the trends through the footwear and create an overall look. Reader worked clothing with Leeor Wild from MTV Fora as well as the team from Capezio shoes, and the MTV Fora photographer Max Kopanygin.
“The team all had amazing ideas and unique approaches to the overall concept,” she described. “It felt like an incredible collaboration that allowed us to not only create images that still gain attention and feel relevant now as well as had an incredible amount of fun.”
In spring 2015, Reader’s career hit another high when she worked as fashion editor for Beauty and Wellness magazine, a publication that was sold across Canada and available in select luxury villas through Luxury Retreats in the United States. Reader worked closely with Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick, known for her role in the television show Vikings, as well as the movie Love and Other Drugs, which also starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Academy Award Winner Anne Hathaway. The project gave Reader a real chance to show how her versatility in the industry.
“I loved how many different aspects of the project I was looking after. It was great to be the stylist but also the fashion editor and art director and putting the whole creative vision together,” she said. “It was 4 months in the making from start to finish with all the meetings, brainstorming, putting the shoots together, shooting them, the postproduction work and the market edits. It was a 4 month long labor of love.”
The project caught the eye of Phillip Iscove, the producer, writer and creator of the Emmy nominated series Sleepy Hollow.
“Ms. Winnick is styled in an impressively succinct way that perfectly highlights both the celebrated, natural elegance she carries while presenting a playful, joyous side,” said Iscove. “Kirsten’s ability to not only match Ms. Winnick’s beauty, but also bring out these qualities that might not be present in the roles she takes on is a highly valuable sill within the fashion and modelling industries.”
Reader has no plans of slowing down. She truly loves her job and has a passion for the industry.
“Every project is a real team effort of merging the ideas for each person's expertise and it is such a fun process,” she said. “I also love seeing others' reactions to the final result. There is something so exciting and satisfying to see what impression you have created and what the response is even if it isn't the one you hoped for as you did something that sparked a response not indifference."
Before even graduating, Reader started in the industry as a makeup artist, followed by a jewelry designer, a sales consultant, and then had a stint in personal shopping when she finally found her home in wardrobe and fashion direction.
“I began by assisting some amazing stylists I had the opportunity to meet when I was working as a makeup artist and learned everything they had to offer,” she said. “I was always excited and willing to work, learn and create.”
Reader has been working in the industry for over 13 years and have been styling for over 8 years.
“Sometimes I am in shock it has been this long,” she concluded. “I still wake up excited to work and create, and even look at projects and try and make something completely unique and new.”