Through over 20 years of experience, Marcellas Reynolds has proven himself to be an astounding author, former model and celebrity fashion stylist. He is also a celebrated actor and entertainment reporter. However, Reynolds’s most exquisite attribute is his dedication to a better fashion-forward tomorrow.
It all began when Marcellas Reynolds was waiting tables. Model agent Marie Anderson, who launched Cindy Crawford, Colin Egglesfield and more, just so happened to be at the right place at the right time. There, she discovered Reynolds.
Reynolds’s top modeling career was filled with GAP, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and more. Then, he successfully made his way into the Hollywood scene by styling for David Schwimmer, Justin Timberlake, Rebecca Hall and other big names. You can find his work in British GQ, British Vogue, Grazia and InStyle magazines. But Reynolds didn’t stop at modeling and styling; he continued to reimagine inclusivity with further efforts and did so with excellence.
In 2019, his book was released, “Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion,” highlighting Black women in the fashion and lifestyle industries. The book shook the fashion world through Reynolds’s exploration of the lives of the models highlighted. He demonstrated their beauty through high-quality photography and utilized essays and interviews to shine a light on their unique attributes. It was something the fashion industry had never before seen, and Reynolds was hailed for executing such a culture-shifting moment.
Here in this intimate conversation between the two Creative Directors of this L.A. STYLE Color Is Beautiful issue; Tricia Love walks us through a closer look at the game-changing perspective of Marcellas Reynolds.
Tricia Love: Can you tell me more about your book, “Supreme Models”? The images are glorious, and it feels like a magazine.
Marcellas Reynolds: “Supreme Models” is a book that celebrates the triumphs and the accomplishments of Black models from as far back as the 1940s up until now. It’s a historical document–and this historical document will tell the world we existed and mattered. Black creatives, Black hair and makeup artists, Black stylists, Black photographers, Black models mattered. That’s why I wrote the book. I also worked very closely with the art director so it felt like a magazine but also to make it timeless.
I started in this business as a Black model. I then became a Black stylist. I became a fashion stylist who happens to be Black, and I saw things. I saw that the struggles that models of color had to go through. It takes work to barely make a living modeling. To become a global success and really become a star takes a lot of work; and once you become a star, it takes a lot of work and perseverance to stay there. So, I wrote the book as a celebration of Black models. To tell our stories, to tell the history.
Tricia Love: How many models are there in the book?
Marcellas Reynolds: There are over 70. It came down to what photos I could clear, because at the end of the day, it’s an art book. It’s the first ever art book.
Tricia Love: That’s powerful. You also have a new book you’re working on, right?
Marcellas Reynolds: Yes. It’s about mastering modeling. More specifically, mastering modeling on Instagram, because if you don’t get scouted or you don’t live in New York or Chicago or Miami, how do you get your start? This even goes for models that are sort of stuck. They wonder how to get to the next level. I was getting DMs all the time from models. So, I was like, okay, let me move you from “Supreme Models” and move you over here. Maybe this will answer your questions.
Tricia Love: Who are your favorite models today?
Marcellas Reynolds: If I was going to say my favorite models in the book, I would of course say Naomi Campbell and Veronica Webb because of what she means to fashion. I would say Naomi Sims from the late ‘60s. She had a really short ca
reer because she got in, made her money and got out. She was the first Black woman on the cover of Life Magazine, and she was the first Black woman on the cover of Ladies Home Journal.
Tricia Love: Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for industry professionals navigating the heightened awareness in our nation?
Now, if we’re talking about contemporary models, I’ll give you three of color and then I’ll give you three that I just love. I love Joan Smalls. I love Duckie Thot, and, of course, I love Adut Akech, who I think is the number one model in the world right now. I love Bella and I love Gigi; and then my third contemporary model would be Adwoa Aboah with the shaved head and the freckles. She doesn’t only represent Black beauty, but she also represents this sort of multicultural beauty because of her lighter skin, and then she represents this sort of edgy beauty because of the super short hair.
Marcellas Reynolds: Wow, so much. A lot of my Black friends right now are figuring out what to say on social media. You don’t want to alienate anybody. You don’t want people to think you’ll be disruptive on set. So, it is about finding that fine line right now, but it’s always about being authentic to yourself.
When I worked as a stylist, people wouldn’t just book me for how technically good I am. People booked me because of my authenticity, and they were booking me for my personality. So, I think being your authentic self is never a bad thing, especially when you’re a person of color, because you’re going to bring this baggage with you wherever you go. We bring the baggage of our skin color and our ethnicity with us because the viewer sees us. I’m going to bring my Blackness. I’m going to bring my gayness because that’s who I am. But the things I also bring with me are my humanity and my talent.
You have to be able to give people a glimpse of your heart, of your soul, of your essence – and I think that speaks for what we’re going through right now with the protests. People that don’t know Black people may think of us as monolithic. They see these images of one Black person doing something and they think, well, all Black people are like that; and they’ve been taught over a millennium to think that. But when we Black people show them our true selves and show them our hearts and talk to them, you can’t hate somebody who is approaching you with love. You can’t hate somebody that’s lovable.
Tricia Love: Can you talk about some experiences you’ve had and how they form what you think the industry should move towards?
Marcellas Reynolds: When I was a model, I was accustomed to being the only Black boy on set. When I became a stylist, I was even more accustomed to being the only Black person on set–sometimes in the building. I knew that I had a responsibility to myself and to my agents to perform to my absolute 110% best ability. But I also knew that I carried the responsibility of my race and my sexuality. I knew for some people, this would be the only prolonged experience they got with a Black person. So, I have this opportunity to teach.
So, here’s what I think — and I’m going to quote Bethann Hardison — We need to talk about integration. We need people of every race and sexuality and sex at the highest levels of fashion making change and actually able to make decisions. We need to integrate Latinos and Asians and Black people in high positions. That way, diverse people are in these high level positions and it allows for a space of teaching.
Tricia Love: We absolutely agree. Now, who are your favorite designers?
Marcellas Reynolds: Oh, God. I love Brandon Maxwell because Brandon Maxwell is doing this really cool take on Americana. When you see a Brandon Maxwell show, you see the full spectrum of humanity. He’s bringing fashion back to fun. And then I love Pyer Moss.
Tricia Love: What’s your “L.A. STYLE”?
Later at night, I’ll go have a cocktail at the Polo Lounge and feel like I’m a 1950s producer looking for someone to make them a star. At the lounge, I would have changed into a suit. An Ami Paris suit. It’s black. It’s chic. It’s double-breasted. Again, I’m wearing a crisp white shirt crisp. It’s probably got French cuffs. So, I add on my Tiffany cufflinks. My shoes are probably by Loake 1880. And I’m not wearing socks no matter how cold or warm it is. Oh! And I might have on a giant bow tie, and of course, I’m on my iPhone texting.
Marcellas Reynolds: My L.A. STYLE would be starting my day at LACMA wearing a blazer designed by Trina Turk for Mr. Turk, a California-based brand. I’d probably wear it with a crisp white shirt and a pair of Earnest Sewn jeans. I would then go from LACMA to shop at the Beverly Center because there’s nothing more LA than the Beverly Center. And then I would go outside of the Beverly Center and visit The Webster, which is that beautiful new store. Since I’m in that neighborhood, I would scoot over to the Ivy and I would have lunch hoping I see one of the Kardashians.
Tricia Love: Love it. Are there any final thoughts for the readers?
Marcellas Reynolds: I just want everybody to try and find a moment every day to be happy. I know it’s crazy out there. Listen, I don’t want to leave the house. I don’t want to leave the house because I live right in the thick of where they’ve been rioting lately. I don’t leave the house because I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want to leave the house because I’ve been sad. I don’t want to leave the house ‘cause I’m fat as hell because all I do during the pandemic is eat. But every day something happens that makes me happy; and that’s when I realize I’m human, and that’s when I realize the one thing all humans have more than anything is hope. So don’t be hopeless. Find that happiness.
Read Marcellas Reynold’s creative director letter here