Alejandra (Ale) Hernandez is a stylist living and working out of Los Angeles, CA. I met her many moons ago through a mutual friend, and one of the first things I remember about her is that she seemed so strong, confident, had a fierce determination, and was someone who knows who she is while making no apologizes about it. This last quality is something I have always enjoyed and envied about her. She is bold, herself all the time.
She grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, the oldest of three girls, a first generation American to an Argentinian Father and a Peruvian Mother. When I ask where her abiding belief in herself comes from, she tells me a story about how her uncles would gush over how beautiful her younger sister was, and that she was aware of it not being said to her. She decided then, at a young age, not to hold her opinion of herself based on what others say, that she would think she was beautiful and that is what matters. She believes, she is beautiful (which duh, she is!) and that’s where that confidence/belief in herself comes from.
As a 90s kid, with a great love for music, her earliest inspiration has and still is music. As an eighth grader, she recalls this “awful” LL Cool J performance at the VMAs performing "Doin’ It." She thought it was “so cool," and wondered, "Who is doing this?" How are these performances created," she thought. She'd watch Lil Kim in her video "How Many Licks," and was enthralled with it. When she looks back, she realizes that those kinds of moments from her youth were times she recognizes as wanting to be a stylist. "I view styling like that...I want to create moments."
But she didn’t know then what styling was or even that it was a career. Later, she attended FIDM, studying fashion design. She interned while in school and eventually got a job with a small clothing company. She thought going with a smaller company would allow her to have more hands-on experiences, rather than working for a corporate company.
It was working there and along the way she truly discovered styling. She met many stylists that came in to pull clothes. She started assisting with those stylists she met or with friends of friends. It took off from there. In 2007 she gave up her company job and became her own boss, working freelance.
At 32 Ale is a working stylist, and a great one at that. She had to work hard to make it to the point she’s at now. She did what she needed to in those early years, she sold re-design vintage with her friend at the flea markets and eventually had a store for five years. She had her moments of doubt and wondered if “this was going to be hard forever."
Ale got a breakthrough moment when she met Iggy Azalea in 2011. She got "that feeling" with Iggy the instant she met her; they had an instant connection. Ale followed her gut to put her focus on styling Iggy. She had always dreamed of working with an artist from the beginning, to be able to create something from the very start of someone's career.
Her and Iggy’s visions align and progresses naturally. They are on the same page. Iggy trusts Ale with her vision because they’ve been together since the start. Ale knows her so well not just as an artist but as a person and friend.
To Ale your style says everything. She respects a person with great style but appreciates bad style, because it means they have more important things to think about. "It shows what kind of values that person has.”
She respects a lot of stylists for what they have done for the industry. Though Patricia Field, stylist for "Sex and the City" takes the cake (amen). To Ale (and all of us), Patricia Field changed culture, the way you see fashion on television, what she created with "Sex and the City," making downtown concepts mainstream. Ale hopes to emulate that kind of impact in her own work, be the next generation Patricia Field.
For her it's about moving forward, growing, and expanding. She is now getting to do different things, things she never in her life thought she would be able to do. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be styling a Britney Spears performance (with Iggy) for an awards show, but now that I’ve done it, I think, how do I keep moving forward? How do I do more of these types of things?” Ale talks about how there is always more to do, you can always grow. The dream gets bigger and the goals get bigger. She hopes to one day work in film, “the right kind of film,” something she can be passionate about.
Her biggest lesson thus far is to trust your gut but be smart (and to “stop reading fashion blogs! They all look the same, be you!”). Follow your heart, “don’t follow money, because you then get stuck doing things you don’t want to do, things that don’t make you happy, or fulfill you creatively. Make enough to survive. Don’t do things just because of money, because you’ll be miserable.”
She lives her life staying true to herself, and it has served her well. It’s something you can’t help but admire about her. Be you in a world that wants us all to be the same. Listen to yourself and most of all trust. “I trust myself, believe in myself, and I believe in my taste." Nothing can stop you with that.
Current Inspiration: “Honestly, lately, I have so many old Interview magazines, I’ve been into the ads, especially the old perfume ads, I love them.” She is also inspired by different time periods. “…If I could have one wish it would be time traveling. I just get obsessed with what people were doing in different time periods like 1969 or in different countries. I’ve been watching ‘Narcho,’ of course, and have been going through a 1991 Columbia Medellin thing, and have been constantly looking at pictures. I go through phases. I am also obsessed with New York, but like, from ten years ago.”
Trends: “I am so obsessed with a plain white t-shirt or a men’s button up.” When I ask if she would like other people to embrace this trend, she replies with a frank “no” and a laugh. “Everyone can dress however they want. I am more concerned with how I want to dress.”
Beauty: “I have two friends that work at plastic surgeons’ offices. I’ve learned in the last year from them that it’s okay to get things fixed if you want to and if it makes you feel better…People frown upon aging, and if you do anything about it they talk shit. And it’s sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So basically, do whatever makes you happy.” She laughs, then, “Fuck it I don’t want wrinkles!”
#latinasmasfinas: “It started on Twitter one night because I get really annoyed with certain stereotypes that follow the Latino community, like that if you’re Latina, [that means] you’re uncultured, you don’t know anything about the world, you’ve never been anywhere, or you don’t do anything that contributes to the arts. People expect you to be a certain way or a certain stereotype. It came about out of that frustration and stereotype…I’m Latina, I don’t have kids, my parents aren’t uneducated, I’ve been all around the world because my parents took me all around the world. I speak two languages perfectly. I know plenty of Latina women that don’t fit the stereotype and contribute to the arts.” The hashtag is meant to translate to “a refined woman, someone who knows what’s up.” She uses it any time she feels it is being represented.
Giving back: She wants young girls, especially young Latina women, to know that they “don’t have to be the dental assistant but be the dentist…There aren't enough role models. I want these young girls to know that it’s an option to be whatever you want to be.” When she was traveling less she mentored with Spark LA. She hopes to open a Depop shop to sell the large inventory of clothes she’s collected through the years and donate part of her earnings to Las Fotos Project, for girls that are interested in photography. She hopes eventually to switch charities every couple months, gearing toward the Latino/Hispanic community, mostly young women interested in getting into the arts.
Future: “I actually just want to take a vacation. Like a real vacation.” She laughs. “I just want to take a real vacation.”
What she would tell her 20-year-old self: “I don’t know what I would tell myself, but this is so stupid…Whenever I buy myself something expensive, I flash back to being my 20-year-old self how I would wonder if I’d ever be able afford the things I wanted…so now when I do I have that flashback and want to tell her, ‘Don’t worry girl you’re going to get there.”
Ale at her home in West Hollywood, CA with a special appearance by her beloved Gianni.
photos Mary Claire Roman
written, makeup, hair Janelle Walker
edit Kristen Fogle