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Celebrity Stylist Annabel Tollman Talks Vintage Clothes and Spring's Top Trends

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" You Can Have Anything You Want In Life If You Dress For It" - EDITH HEAD

This quote posted on Annabel Tollman's website summarizes the philosophy of this talented celebrity stylist and eBay Fashion Contributor. Born in Brussels and raised in New York and Los Angeles, she was sketching fashion designs from magazines even as a young girl. Studies at Central St. Martins paved the way to editorial positions at Wallpaper, Maxim Fashion and Interview Magazine.

And her resume doesn't stop there.

Celebrities she's dressed include Scarlett Johasson, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Cynthia Nixon and Jessica Simpson.

Brands who've recruited her consulting services include bigwigs like Moschino, Albert Ferretti and Chloe.

Clients who've tapped her styling genius include Nautica, Van Cleef & Arpels, and L'Oreal.

And most recently, as if she's not crazy-busy enough, this super-stylist has been tapped by Fashion.eBay.com to tweet, curate and post videos for their new fashion destination that allows hip fashionistas to browse 19 million listings by style, brand, boutique, category and trend.

And wonder of wonders, Annabel must have found a way to squeeze some extra minutes into a 24-hour day because she graciously chatted with Zuburbia recently about Red Carpet fashion, shopping for vintage on eBay and this Spring's top trends.

Before your celebrity styling days and before your affiliation with eBay, you were just 26 years old and senior fashion editor at Interview magazine. What advice for you have for anyone hoping to hit the ground running in the fashion industry and eventually achieve similar success?

In fashion (as with any profession at all) you have to work VERY hard. If you just want to be famous or have a glamorous life then there are much easier routes to that end than the fashion industry - those things can be a by-product of success but are not an end goal in themselves. Decide what you want to do or who you want to be in 10 years and what you are going to give in exchange for it. Don't be afraid to approach people you want to work with and tell them that you admire their work - flattery opens a lot of doors!

annabel tollman quote 2It seems every young fashionista I talk to gushes about how he or she dreams of being a celebrity fashion stylist. Why do you think your job holds such appeal and is it as glamorous as it appears?

I think that celebrity styling has become much more visible in the past few years hence its explosion into the public consciousness. When I was studying fashion at St Martins, everybody wanted to be a designer, stylist or journalist. It's just another phase and I'm sure that everybody will want to be a blogger before long. And no job in fashion is as glamorous as it appears - our job is to create illusions, create fantasy - there is always a backstage at any theatre.

You are most definitely a Vintage Crusader and you often integrate vintage into your own personal wardrobe and that of your styling clients. Where did your love for vintage begin and where do you see its place in the fashion spectrum?

Vintage always used to terrify me - all those drag queen karaoke sequinned shifts and bad prom dresses seemed so repellent. It wasn't until I found my vintage era and how to make vintage shapes work for me that I really started wearing a lot of it. The main thing that I love about vintage is all the amazing workmanship - the covered buttons and tiny buttonloops, the hand-beading, the cut-work, the embroidery. I think that vintage is becoming more and more important in the fashion spectrum, not just for reference or design purposes but for actual wearing. I think consumers are getting to know how and where to shop for vintage finds and that it's a great way to add some flair and a unique touch to their wardrobes. Online shopping has really opened up the possibilities too - no secret how much i love to trawl eBay for vintage wonderfulness!

What are the absolute favorite vintage pieces you have sitting in your closet right now?annabel tollman quote 1

I'm really feeling the 20s and 30s right now - Baz Luhrman is filming his version of The Great Gatsby and I think that it's going to have a massive impact on those eras making a resurgence in our wardrobes. I bought a '30s black wool dress with black bugle beads - I'll wear it belted and with long purple suede Louboutin boots. I also recently bought a hat from the '60s by Oleg Cassini which is sort of like an exaggerated riding hat and looks brilliant with my Alaia coat.

There are so many amazing vintage evening gowns and I am always disappointed to see such a lack of vintage represented on Red Carpets. Why do you suppose that is?

I use quite a lot of vintage for Red Carpets oddly enough! I do think there are a couple of factors that limit the amount we see: The dresses have already been altered or shortened so if you're tall then if the dress has been chopped off to fit somebody petite, tough luck because there's no calling to get more fabric. Another factor is that there are only a few vintage vendors who will lend vintage for red carpet. Most will want to sell the dress, which obviously isn't really an option when every designer is throwing a one-off gown your way. Additionally, there are only a certain number of vintage dresses out there!

ebay fashion iphone appThese days, in addition to styling, you've taken on a new role as a spokeswoman for eBay Fashion. Each week I look through thousands of listings to curate my eBay Roundup Of Vintage Clothing Finds and it's very time-consuming. What tips and tricks do you have for finding the hidden gems among eBay's bazillion fashion listings?

I have to confess that I spend many hours on the site each week. I love the eBay Fashion iphone app because you can really pinpoint what it is that you are looking for in fashion terms - era, piece, color, size, which speeds through the millions of listings (and you can also virtually try-on pieces and curate your virtual closet!).

As a regular eBay customer yourself, what are your biggest pet peeves among sellers? What do you look for in a seller with whom you do repeat business?

I haven't really ever had a problem with sellers, as such, but I have bought things that don't fit - either I don't read the measurements properly or else I imagine that I am thinner than I am. I do of course look for Top Rated Sellers, but eBay has Buyer Protection which means a safe shopping experience regardless.

What do you see as Spring's key trends and what keywords should savvy vintage fashionistas be using to search eBay for key spring wardrobe pieces?

I love the return to grown-up clothes rather than the slouch that has become de rigeur of late. I think "blouse" "silk" and "trousers" are all great search terms. The bold explosion of color is really exciting..."tangerine" "cobalt" "fuschia" and "chartreuse" should do the trick. Lastly, the restraint of the minimal look is so refreshing. "Celine" would work really well for new designer apparel, or there are amazing vintage "'90s" pieces from "Helmut Lang" and "Calvin Klein" and "Prada".

Finally, where can we look forward to seeing your work in 2011? Anything in the pipeline you can talk about?

I can't say anything yet because I dont want to jinx it, but there are very very exciting things happening in 2011. Stay tuned!

We most certainly will! Thanks so much for chatting.

You can read more about Annabel on her website at AnnabelTollman.com or at eBay's FashionVoice.

Read more about vintage clothing and eco-fashion at Zuburbia.