Countdown to nD Fest: What It's Really Like to Be a Model in Nashville

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The Belcourt Theatre's nD Fest is just days away, and even though some of us showed up in our Quitters today (ahem, you know who you are), we're gearing up for a fashionable and fabulous weekend.

The Fest, which is a fundraiser for the Belcourt's educational outreach and community engagement programs, starts Friday, Sept. 28, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 30. You can view a schedule of events here, but if you like parties and special events that celebrate independent film, fashion and music, you should just go buy your Patrons Pass now.

We reached out to several of our friends in the local fashion community to find out what it's really like to work in this growing industry in Nashville. Check back each day, as we'll feature a local photographer, fashion blogger, stylist, hair & makeup artist and designer throughout the week.

Today, we're featuring model and runway coach Dylan Stephens, who has worked in the Nashville fashion scene for three years. A native of Fort Hood, Texas, the 22-year-old Stephens recently moved to Nashville and has walked in Nashville Fashion Week and several local shows in the past year. He is featured in Black by Maria Silver's fall/winter campaign and is unique in the Nashville model scene — yes, we have one — as he models as both a boy and a girl.

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Do you feel that there are more opportunities for the type of work that you do now compared to when you first started out?

Personally, there have been so many more opportunities in the past couple of years that have come with Nashville’s broadened perspective of fashion and beauty.

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What do you think is the hardest thing or the biggest barrier to working in the fashion industry in Nashville?

I think the greatest barrier Nashville — just like everywhere else — has to overcome, is opening minds and expanding the definition of what we see as beautiful. We, as a growing community, should remain open to new ideas and points of view.

What is the biggest complaint you hear about Nashville’s fashion community?
DS: The biggest complaint has to be the lack of recognition of Nashville as a fashion city. We’ve evolved into more than gingham and rhinestones. Alternately, what is the best thing about Nashville’s fashion community?

Despite fashion’s crazy nature, there’s a Southern charm about the industry here that keeps it genuine to its roots.

Do you feel that, at some point in your career, you’d want or need to move to a larger market such as L.A. or NYC to explore more work opportunities? What would keep you here in Nashville?

Moving to a bigger market would be great, and a good step for my career, but Nashville would always be the place where I started pushing buttons and opening minds.

What is the biggest misperception that outsiders have about the Nashville fashion scene?

I don’t think people see Nashville as a real contender in the fashion industry. When in reality, Nashville is the place where many great models, designers, etc., get their start. We’re coming into our own.


Photos via blackbymariasilver.com
Photos by Heidi Ross
Hair and Makeup by Lorena Lopez

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