Juan Camilo Rodríguez is a Colombian fashion stylist and creative director based in Barcelona. His eye for detail and distinct aesthetic landed him incredible jobs contributing and collaborating with different publications such as Fucking Young!, Numeró Berlin, Rollacoaster, Paper Magazine, and Document Journal amongst many others.
1. Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself? (Age, where you come from, where you live, your studies and your job title)
My name is Juan Camilo Rodríguez, I am 26 years old and I am originally from Bogotá, Colombia. I moved to Barcelona 6 years ago, and during the past 2 years I’ve been going back and forth to Paris because of work and other fashion related events.
I started studying two bachelors in Colombia, and funny enough styling wasn’t one of them, but it became something that I study everyday of my life. I just love working with fashion, storytelling and fantasy, and I think styling is something where it all comes together. I first studied fine arts and communication design in Colombia, but I didn’t finish, then after a while I decided to come to Barcelona to study fashion design, which I just finished.
I am currently working as a freelance fashion stylist, and I am fashion director
2. Can you tell us about how you started as a Stylist and why you decided to start this career?
I started 8 years ago or so, when my friends in Colombia were making their first film ever. Every single one of my friends was doing something that they liked and that we all thought we were good at. One of my friends and I, were the obvious choice amongst our group of friends to develop de styling and the art direction cause we liked it and this was a very intimate project. The film was about a crime that happened in the mountains, and a detective that started going crazy trying to find out the answers to the mystery. It was a lot of work but the end result was amazing, all dressed in seventies attire, different working classes, country meets the city, and also of course when we visit the clothing warehouses where they hold all kind of clothes and fantasy accessories from all decades and sizes.
After that, I dropped off school, and started doing projects with Carmen Triana, (@carmentrianaa) one of my closest friend and the best photographer I know, as well as my friend Maria Ponce de Leon (@mariaponcedleon), who is also a stylist.
In 2014 we moved together to Barcelona, and while we were all in school, Barcelona also gave us the opportunity to develop our discipline and do what we loved on the side. We build a collective called (UN)HUMAN, where we started doing fashion shoots, productions and all kind of projects to show what we imagined, and understood about fashion, art and photography.
Eventually they moved back to Colombia after a couple of years, and I just kept on working and never stopped, its something that comes really from within. I think that when you love something it grows organically and fills you with joy every time.
3. Which stylists influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, styling and career path?
I like many stylist’s, I think that we all have different ways of projecting our minds and dreams, and background. One of my favourites is Ibrahim Kamara and Benjamin Bruno; I think both of them are especially strong when projecting dreams, fantasies and cultural meaning. But, above all, I think that more than any specific stylists, I am inspired by my culture and by Colombia itself. I am very inspired by the countryside, by nature and the relationship that humans hold with it; in Colombia there’s a very strong connection with nature, specially in the countryside, where people and nature have a symbiotic relationship, and even though there’s a lot of corruption and heartless choices by the government, the truth is that Colombia is a magic place. We are surrounded by all kinds of ecosystems and the attire and accents amongst the population are as varied as they come; you can encounter completely different cultures and textiles depending on the region that you are and all are conditioned to their surroundings, people from the Amazon have completely different habits and dress very differently that people from the mountains and cities.
I am also very inspired by books, fairy-tale stories and my own stories. I try to write a story, and mix all the inspirations I have to create something that can be understood and projected in my work. I am currently obsessed with gender neutrality, non-binary and homoeroticism. Fantasy, acceptance and diversity amongst all inspirations have to be present somehow in what we work out nowadays. One world for us all.
4. If you could describe your styling aesthetic in 3 words, what would they be? And why?
I would describe my aesthetic as nostalgic, romantic and dreamlike. I think cause all the reference and connection I have with the past and my life in Colombia, which eventually develops and grows to my dream future. I try to always project a little bit of futurism in my styling, how I’d like to see the world grows and usually love is one of my main subjects, being it romantic, heart-breaking or other kind interpretation of relationship within the scene or environment of the place where the story takes place, a fantastic place.
5. Have you worked with any important brands/people brands? If so which one stood out to you the most and why? (Could you Kindly tell us about the collaboration)
I have worked with a lot of people I admire, but I am a firm believer that one should kill your idols. Before I moved to Barcelona, in Colombia I read a lot of magazines, one of them being Fucking Young! Which right now is one of the magazines I work with the most, and the editor-in-chief Adriano is one very close friend of mine as well as his partner Edu. At the time when I was there I really never thought I ever got the chance to work with them, but time comes for everyone I think? Document Journal, Numéro and Vogue are also some other important publications, at least for me that I’ve had the pleasure to work with.
I think that most importantly Fucking Young! Is a publication that I have very close to my heart. The first time I worked for their printed issue was very special, mostly because I got the opportunity to travel to Hamburg, which I’ve never been before that, and worked with one of my favourite photographers which are also very good friends now and working with them became also a pleasure. I think that once you understand that people you admire are also human beings and that they got where they are with hard work, they become a lot closer to you than you imagine. I very much still admire all the people and brands I work with, and I think that all collaborations are special because you always learn something from each experience, and usually I’ve also gain new friendships, which are invaluable.
Another couple of my very important collaborations was the special I did for LOUIS VUITTON & another one for LOEWE with Fucking Young!
I think it made me really proud they chose me to style these specials, not only because they’re both brands I love, but because the challenge of styling a story with only pieces of one brand and one main collection is always fulfilling; trying to project different scenarios with a collection that overall has the same aesthetic and almost identical pieces.
I think that Fucking Young! Is still one of my favourite magazines not only because of their content, but because all the doors and opportunities they have allow me to live with them. I went to Paris for Men’s fashion week for the very first time with them, and I’ve come along as much as I can, sitting front row in SACAI, which was a dream come true, RICK OWENS, and other shows that Adriano had invited me to on behalf of the magazine.
Another brand I have a really good connection too is GIVENCHY, the PRs Jaoven and Angela, are the kindest of them all, and it has become a close friendship with time; if you ask me a brand that can’t be missing in my styling this is it. They’ve showed their support since the beginning and have allowed me to style their amazing couturesque clothes in many many stories and hopefully more to come. So, summarizing, more than the brands, is the people, amazing people that are behind a magazine or a brand, that I considered to be important for my career, myself and can’t be thankful enough with them. <3
6. What elements inspire you when styling?
I am very much inspired by the surroundings, usually the concept already gives me the inspiration, but I think that the model is a huge part of the inspiration. I tend to accessorize a lot with hats, gloves, and atrezzo elements, feathers…but it all depends as I said, on the concept, the model, the light and the surroundings or location where we’re shooting the story. The story gives you the main inspirations, sometimes it may drag with it sailor elements, military attire, and historically charged objects that are capable of giving the story a settlement and a time reference. Right now I am very much inspired by glam and strass, not a super charged, but I like to see a little bit of light and shine every now and then. When I am working with Kapturing for example, we play a lot with items that let the model play and set the styling in context, being it a net, a fishing hook, ceramics, etc. I am a hat lover! Give me a nice hat, and I’ll be happy, sometimes I even make my own with what I already have and give it a completely new twist. DIY accessories are the best, I try to customize as much as I can without invading the overall meaning of the accessory. I really like socks as well, I think that if you see through my work you can spot a lot of transparent socks; transparencies provide with that subtle sensuality that I usually aim for without being the main centre of attention, but of course that changes if the main story is about sensuality, in this case, that’s another story.
7. Among your work, which styled look is your favourite and why?
To choose one is hard! Hahah, I have a favourite for every shooting I’ve made I think, but one of my favourites of all is from “Anatomy of Lust” which was shot by Carmen Triana. Jason is wearing a top by Spanish designer Celia Valverde, and trousers by Victor Von Schwarz, the pearl earrings I got in an African shop and I wear it all the time so it’s like a talisman for me. I like this styling and picture very much because I feel it’s so moving, simple but strong, and very close to my heart. It was one of the very first shoots I did in Barcelona where the production was very exhausting but all the team was very close to me.
I feel like the styling itself gathers sensuality and nostalgia at the same time, combines soft colours and kind of feel like he’s being born out of the water or melting into it. The location is also very special; we shot it in a lake called Banyoles, 2 hours from Barcelona, but if you look at it, he can be anywhere in the world. Most people thought it was shot in Colombia, and it made me think how strongly we are connected to the place we come from.
8. Do you have any advice to our readers who might want to become a stylist?
The best advice I can give is to always follow your instinct and your imaginary. There will be a lot of people that tell you what you’re supposed to do or show or not show in your pictures but I think that it is very important that no matter the client or the publication, you learn to adapt to it within your own boundaries and your own way of storytelling. The hardest part is to break the mould of a society where there’s a lot of judgement, and for me the way to do it is to stand up and keep on doing what you think is right, learning from your mistakes and also learning to work with your team. Sometimes it takes time to realize what people make you better, and who to let go for you to grow. Be humble and honest with your work and people surrounding you!
9. What is your life motto? That you use to keep yourself motivated.