Perhaps my destiny has always been to become an Image Consultant and a Personal Shopper, only it took half of my life to be aware of it.
Image Consultant as a profession is not as recent as perceived in the collective imagination.
This figure already existed in the early ‘900 in Hollywood; in fact, when the first divas were born, the need to take care of their image was born with them.
Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe and many other actresses are the result of an image that was artificially created with invasive interventions on their figure. For example, poor Rita had a line of her hair literally torn off to raise her forehead. Marlene Dietrich had two molars removed to create a more hollow face effect – as you can see in the picture –in order to slim her face.
Today, fortunately, Consultancy is not intended to overturn one’sdistinguishing marks, but rather to enhance what people are, naturally, and trying to best expresstheir own potential.
You cannot totally hide defects; they can become rather a distinctive element. If you have a low forehead, like Rita Hayworth, then simple ‘tricks’ are enough to create an optical effect that lengthens your face. You work on eyebrows, haircut (without tearing them off :)) and make-up.
The perfect woman image – as it was proposed in the first half of the last century – declines around the 70s. After actresses like Ava Gardner, Liz Taylor, Grace Kelly, women who are not perfect start to be equally appreciated and get a good screen presence anyway. Just think of Barbra Streisand for example.
And always in the seventies the figure of the Image Consultant as we know it today becomes popular- therefore as a professional serving a heterogeneous public and not only as the prerogative of the star system – and this happens with the publication of the book ‘Dress for Success’ by John T. Molloy in 1975.
Since then, thanks to fashion, to the rise of the prêt-à-porter, television, a more widespread aesthetic and above all affordable sense, even from the economic point of view, Image Consultants have been proliferatingso that currently those who intend to entrust their image to one of these professionals are faced with a very wide range of possibilities. The offer is so rich that the problem is now who to choose.
In Italy a notable contribution to the notoriety of this figure was given by Carla Gozzi and Enzo Miccio, the protagonists of the TV show ‘How you dress?!?’. As always, the power of television has made this profession ‘popular’ and has canonized it so much that today if you ask a common person ‘Who is the most famous Image Consultant in Italy?’ the answer is pretty obvious.
In reality there are many professionals working in this field, certainly less famous because they are not faces from small screen, but they are equally qualified.
What are the parameters to assess an Image Consultant’s level of professionalism?
Certainly, this does not depend on how often they are on TV or in newspapers.
I summarize them in 4 points: training, experience, aptitude, communication.
Today thanks to social networks, it is possible to know more in detail a person’s CV and professional profile.
This makes it possible to evaluate the educational path, the professional experiences, the collaborations and also the network of links, which is fundamental to understand how this person is positioned in the working context and how much he/she is known, is influential.
In Italy there are currently no Institutes officially approved at governmental level or professional bodies: the training is mostly entrusted to individuals, Academies or Freelancers, who offer three-year or short courses (seminars, workshops) introducing to this Profession.
Those who decide to make Image Consultancy their working career path often go abroad to deepen the matter. In London, for example, there is the London Image Institute. It is also private, but internationally recognized for the prestigious educational quality. In France, on the other hand, there is the Ecole Supérieure de Relooking, a school recognized as a professional institute and therefore authorized to issue a real diploma.
Job training is certainly an investment, but it is worth doing it if you want to have a good basis of notions and be competitive. You cannot claim to be an Image Consultant having attended only an 8-hour course (as, alas, I often see doing). Having an innate inclination for this profession is ok, but as always,you need to add a deep knowledge of the subject.
Often while reading job advertisements, we find ‘Degree in XY or equivalent title and experience’.
Therefore, that is an important point. If you have not had the opportunity to attend a structured course training for the profession of Image Consultant, it is not excluded that you can get there by other means.
Let me explain because I would not like to seem contradictory with what I said before.
Of course, if until recently you have been a Chartered Accountant, even if your aesthetic sense is strong and you have spent entire afternoons shopping with your friends, it is natural that you will have to acquire some skills.
It is different if you have years of work behind you as a Fashion Stylist or as a Fashion Designer.
The same Carla Gozzi is not born as a Consultant; she has become one because of her participation in the program; before she used to work as an assistant to famous stylists, among them Christian Lacroix, Calvin Klein, Mila Schön, Yohji Yamamoto and ErmannoScervino.
You can become Image Consultants even if you have a professional background in adjoining fields because most probably some notions that are part of your knowledge can be part of the new professional path.
Another example:if you are an architect, you will surely have a chromatic sensitivity and a very thorough knowledge of colors. This can be very useful if “in the middle of the journey of your life” you decide to change direction. The important thing is to integrate your skills with some training to complete the curriculum of the perfect Image Consultant.
Some are born to be chefs, some to be doctors, some others to be Image Consultants. As for every kind of job, if there is no natural inclination and passion, you do not go very far. The passion is then cultivated and you finally transform it into a job. Only in this way you have the almost certainty of being successful (I said “almost” because the unforeseen just around the corner can always happen…).
If, from an early age, you have loved dressing dolls, shopping, reading fashion magazines and thebeauty around you attracted you, maybe you were born just to do this job!
It is something that you felt strong inside you, a talent that as adults you have chosen to express giving shape to your innate qualities. Because it goes without saying that if you do not have a certain sense of aesthetics, harmony of proportions and a good dose of empathy,it becomes difficult to deal with the public.
In the profession of a Consultant, these qualities weigh as much as the competence because you are dealing with individuals who lay themselves bare in front of youand confessyou their very personal and intimate needs. The image theme is very delicate and should be treated with kidgloves. There are people who suffer a crisis because they do not like themselves and maybe they are deciding to rely precisely on you to face their rebirth. It is not a trivial matter, it is a huge responsibility!
We must be aware of it.
You are what we see. And what do we see? Your image, precisely.
For an Image Consultant, the best business card is his / her own person. Only if you are credible,people trust and rely on you.
In this context, when I talk aboutimage, I am not only referring to the exterior part but to the set of elements that create the reputation of an individual.
Certainly if I see on the web images of a badly dressed Consultant, with almost risky color matchesand with a questionable taste on the choice of clothes models, I will never decide to consult him/her…
This is the basis … and do believe me, it is not so obvious.
To this you need to add the whole part of communication, that is how I put myself on my social profiles, how I present myself through the website window, how I place myself in the public contexts where I am invited, how I move in space, howI gesticulate, my linguistic property, my good manners and bon ton. Everything is about me and everything is a vehicle to get to you!
In this, identifying our own identity is crucial. As I said before, today, in Italy, many Image Consultants are on the market and often the best known are not those that have impressive names, but those that have been able to work well at their Personal Branding.
They have therefore seized their uniqueness and made it their trump card and on this uniqueness,they have declined all their verbal and non-verbal communication, towards a specific audience target.
Chapeau to these professionals, whom, despite being competitors, I personally follow and respect as I acknowledge they can do their job well.
Moreover, needless to say, they are people who also have a solid educational base and a respectable professional background.
I do not understand on the contrary the colleagues who use a selfie with Carla Gozzi as their business card and then you find out they have less than 10 hours of training behind them.
She is not the one to give authority and credibility. These two values must be conquered on the field and cannot be shifted from the public figure who – in this specific case – is a highly competent woman of great and enviable substance.