By the end of May, thousands of graduates will have embarked on their journeys. Not all of them will realize their dreams like Jennifer Féin, a Los Angeles-based stylist, fashion/costume designer, and fine artist. In 2003, Féin’s undergraduate collection was so good; it was published in Women’s Wear Daily.
Ms. Féin is the founder of FÉIN, an independent atelier that provides styling and custom designs for fashion editorials, films, television, and the music industry. Jennifer’s captivating, avant-garde style and design work has been published in American Vogue, Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair, W Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, ELLE, Marie Claire, and Interview Magazine, among others.
Féin has created custom pieces for the likes of Anne Hathaway and Daphne Guinness and served as chief costume designer for numerous music videos and films. Actress Abigail Cowen’s striking January 2021 Glamour UK cover was styled by Jennifer Féin who did another shoot with the actress—this time for Flaunt Magazine—that came out in the same month.
“I’m a weird Jack of a lot of trades”- Jennifer Féin
Jennifer spent 15 years working in fashion in New York City (she interned at Helmut Lang and Proenza Schouler then designed womenswear for Club Monaco.) She is currently based in West Hollywood. The multi-talented 39-year-old considers herself to be a stylist first and foremost, but she admits it’s hard to put her in a box. Looking over Fein’s impressive resume, images posted on her website and on Instagram, it’s hard to argue with that assertion. Jennifer attended both the Studio Art College International in Florence, Italy and the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, receiving not only her BFA in fashion design but myriad awards and honors, including for innovative use of materials. Jennifer refers to herself as a “Mad Scientist”.
During college, Fein began “sleep-sketching”. Jennifer recalls that she would go to sleep at night and more than half the time, would wake up to find her sketchbook filled with designs she dreamt about. Styling provides an outlet for her one-of-a-kind couture pieces, such as this custom-made YSL leather cage cut–out harness dress. Fein did the styling and Jamie Nelson was the photographer. Jennifer likens her metal jewelry, which she’s been making for two years, to Daniel Roseberry’s fantastical Salvador Dali-infused pieces for Schiaparelli.
Jennifer is currently working with a 3D pattern which has led a lot of people to compare her designs to that of Iris van Herpen. But Jennifer says that when she is looking for designers to use for styling projects, she seeks out lesser-known names like BENCHELLAL, a sustainable high fashion brand based in Paris. FYI, Mohamed Benchellal was named the winner of the 2020 Vogue Fashion Prize with his couture womenswear. The Moroccan designer impressed the jury with his contemporary yet timeless designs that exude the ultimate sense of glamour.
David Bowie is Jennifer’s all-time favorite personal style influence. She describes her own eclectic rock n’ roll tinged look this way: “Picture an embroiderer and a tailor falling in love in Morocco, who then skyrockets to space in the 1960s, then lands at Woodstock and settles in NYC.” In addition to innovators like Daniel Roseberry, Iris van Herpen and BENCHELLAL, other favored designers are Hussein Chalayan, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, and Andre Courreges. Through the years, Jennifer has amassed an enviable vintage collection (Ossie Clarke, Mugler, Courreges, Cardin, YSL, etc) that she periodically rents out to other stylists.
Féin is clearly seduced by special statement pieces, but she is also appreciative of timeless designs based on impeccable tailoring, as exemplified by Saint Laurent and Helmut Lang, who had a knack for taking military garments and things that are functional and turn them into fashion. Jennifer, who interned for the designer from 2002- 2003, was charged with creating archives out of 14 seasons of Lang’s men’s and women’s designs. It was a huge undertaking and the experience really honed Jennifer’s eye for detail.
Helmut offered Jennifer a job when she graduated but then they sold the company so that did not happen. Instead, Jennifer took an internship at Proenza Schouler for a year. This led to a stint designing womenswear at Club Monaco in 2006. It proved to be a bit too “fast fashion” for Jennifer so she left and spent a year painting. But Jennifer missed designing so in 2009 she created a small capsule collection (Rihanna bought one of her dresses). At this time, Jennifer began working with a photographer, Jamie Nelson, styling beauty shoots.
It was a perfect fit: Jennifer was able to put her conceptual ideas to work and create custom pieces using her sculptural skills and different materials. One of Jennifer’s first shoots, in 2011, ended up in Vogue, and then it was “Vogue non-stop after that” she says. When Kate Moss got married, one of Jennifer’s designs from that 2009 collection, was worn by a member of the wedding party. It was included in the coverage of the event for American Vogue’s September issue, photographed by Mario Testino.
Féin has been making clothes ever since she was a little girl, having been taught to sew by her grandmother. In addition to everything else, Jennifer puts her sewing skills to work as a professional tailor. She works with a tailoring agency in Manhattan, Christy Rilling Atelier, christyrilling.com. Jennifer, who is the only L.A.-based tailor they employ, suggests I use them should I need anything expertly tailored.
Christy became Michelle Obama’s personal tailor in 2010 and she remains a much-valued client to this day. It’s also the agency Vogue Magazine uses for the Met Gala. Jennifer says Vogue always requests Jennifer for fittings and she has spent a lot of time in their closets. When Tom Ford staged his Fall 2020 runway show in Los Angeles, Jennifer worked on that collection.
Most recently, she tailored the Givenchy suit Laura Dern worn for the 2021 Golden Globes. What’s in Jennifer’s future? She wants to continue working as a stylist and as a designer and would love bigger styling projects, more editorials, more music videos, and to continue to create custom pieces and wearable art. Thus far, she has made this happen without the aid of an agent but with all her projects, it’s becoming more and more impossible to negotiate jobs on her own.