Single parents battling cancer and abuse survivors—those are the kinds of people who Hollywood image-maker, founder of The Giving Closet and total made man, Sam Russell, helps out.
Russell, who’s worked with the likes of Jon Hamm, Colin Farrell and Chuck Lorre, decided in 2011 to start redirecting the designer wardrobes typically reserved for the stars he styled to surprise everyday women with stories of resilience and perseverance. Wardrobes, which are often accompanied with style consulting and career coaching, are valued at $10,000 a person and intended to both empower and foster confidence. The birth of The Giving Closet as a passion project has been the conduit to Russell’s own self-healing as a domestic abuse survivor, himself.
Russell works to surprise about three to four women a year, noting that each recipient takes about a month of prep and each event is funded entirely out of pocket. Awe-inspired by his selfless work, we caught up with him in between projects for some of his best fashion advice and inspiration for the men out there looking to change their lives, too.
Come into any space with a true, consistent good vibe and the world is your page to turn. And everyone notices your shoes.
Describe your style in three words.
Eclectic, bold and considerate.
Who had the biggest influence on your style?
Style with Elsa Klensch was the biggest influence for me growing up in Austin, Texas. It ran from 1980 to 2001 on CNN and shaped what fashion is to me. It was another world of confidence and diversity. The power of transforming your day, your mood, career and future with the start of a strong outfit is a powerful thought. That show celebrated that every Sunday morning at 5:30 am. It was my church.
If you could wear one piece of clothing from your childhood, what would it be?
When I was 11, I owned a really fun lime green Williwear trench coat. My mom let me express myself through fashion and that was one of my first designer pieces. I think I left it at a dry cleaner in Austin and never claimed it! Would love to have that back…
Name a celebrity whose style you admire.
Jennifer Lopez. She is a total chameleon and takes the responsibility of being a public figure seriously. Always on point and never in the same outfit twice, she sets the stage for illusion and inspiration. Plus I am obsessed with her new show on NBC, Shades Of Blue. Maybe that is why she is fresh on my mind today.
What are three pieces that every man should have in his closet?
Non-black trousers, an expensive dinner coat and humility. None of the above matter without humility. Too much ego kills talent. Period.
What stores and websites do you frequent?
Last Call Neiman Marcus Outlet and Farfetch.com.
What’s one thing that is always worth splurging on?
Shoes and other people. Oh wait, that is two things.
What trend would you like to see disappear?
Leopard anything. It looks cheap. Even on the well-heeled socialites walking Rodeo Drive, it looks inexpensive and copied. Never cared for it. If a client asked me for leopard I would… Best I not even put those words out in the universe! Gasp!
What is one thing guys can do to improve their style?
Change your vibe first, then the shoes. Come into any space with a true, consistent good vibe and the world is your page to turn. And everyone notices your shoes.
When you want to make a good impression, what should you wear?
Something that makes you feel special. Maybe something with a memory attached. I have a fitted black Alexander McQueen dinner jacket I wear when I want to feel good. I earned that jacket in a messy break-up when my (now) ex threw a phone at me in a fit of rage. I stated that he didn’t respect my space or me and needed to take me shopping on Rodeo Drive to prove otherwise. I wear that piece and reflect on the power of my words and my choices often. Find something that empowers you and wear it when you need reminding.
Photo Credit: Brie Childers Photography