Erin Walsh recently took time out of her busy schedule to chat about her job as a stylist — a career that almost passed her by. The 30-year-old Walsh realized soon after graduating from New York University with a BFA in theater that the world of stage and stardom wasn’t for her, but an opportunity with Vogue in the mid-2000s set her on the path to celebrity stylist. Walsh dresses actress Kerry Washington, star of the hit ABC series “Scandal” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” The duo collaborated recently for all of Washington’s award show appearances, including this year’s Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards.
Q. How did you become a stylist? You majored in theater so what was that transition like?
A. I went to NYU for theater and I freaked out about being an actor immediately after I graduated and I worked in a store for a bit and I never wanted to do retail, so it was kind of temporary. And I just thought I’d always loved writing, so I thought maybe I’ll go write for a magazine. So I started temping . . . and then working with Phyllis Posnick, who is an icon, and worked with every important fashion photographer there is. I didn’t even know there were stylists, I didn’t know what that was. One of the first [shoots] I went on with her was with Irving Penn and then I was done.
Q. What’s the schedule of a stylist like?
A. You know, when you’re working freelance, a schedule can be completely manic. Sometimes you’re on your BlackBerry and you can be tracking people down all night long. You can’t dictate your schedule and it can be quite, quite busy. It’s not like you can plan on a weekend, even if you have one, because you’re always thinking about what’s coming up next. I don’t know, I guess you can work super late and fit in a yoga class if you want to, but it’s an all-the-time thing. Even if I’m not working, I’m thinking about things I haven’t started working on yet. . . . I’m always looking for inspiration and finding it.
Q. How did you begin working with Kerry Washington? Was it before or after “Scandal” started?
A. She had just finished filming [the] “Scandal” [pilot] and she was about to start on “Django” and we were introduced by a woman I used to work for, Samira Nasr, Elle fashion director. She thought we would work well together.
Q. Is your working relationship with Kerry collaborative?
A. One-hundred percent, we do everything together. She knows what works for her body. Both of us try to figure out some mood, texture, or silhouette depending on what we’re doing. For the “Django” press tour in Europe, I think we were thinking very sort of cinematic and fashion forward and perhaps even evocative almost of artwork mixed with old movie stars.
Q. What is Kerry’s knowledge of the fashion world like? Does she prefer one designer?
A. She has a good knowledge of fashion. Even before we were working together she had great relationships with a lot of these people. It’s not just like getting dressed. Not to say there’s a higher purpose in fashion, but she’s aware of the moment.
Emily Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.