For stylist Marcus Allen, it was always about fashion. “My mom put Christian Dior Fahrenheit fragrance on me starting when I was two, so that marks the beginning of something for me,” he says. “Even today, my scent is from that company.”
Eau de fashion lingered as he grew older. “It’s funny, because when I see people from junior high or high school, they’re like, ‘You’re doing exactly what you said you wanted to do,’” he continues. “I wasn’t sure what the job title was, but I knew it was about creating an identity through dress.”
Allen attended the Massachusetts College of Art & Design, where he studied photography. “I was mostly focused on what was being photographed, as opposed to the technicalities of exposure,” he admits.
As a sophomore he landed a job working retail at Ralph Lauren, then moved to Long Island after school to work at the Easthampton location. It was his ticket to Manhattan, where he began setting up test shoots with photographer friends and unknown models. One test shoot for Brunello Cucinelli turned into a full-time job.
It opened plenty of doors, but after a year, Allen decided it was time to go out on his own. “In a tight suit doing someone else’s creative work with no input is not how I roll,” he says. “I’m not a very practical person, so I would not think about the financial consequences of leaving a job before having a new one. I left there in 2012, and I’ve been on my own ever since.”
It was a risk that has paid off. Allen now styles for Simon Miller, Urban Outfitters, and Melet Mercantile, among others. At Paris Fashion Week, he assists Tony Irvine with Jil Sander and Sharon Wachob.
Just like when he was studying photography, it’s the subject that he’s interested in most. “I really want to know who the character is,” he says. “Who is the guy? Who is the girl? Where do they go? Do they travel? Do they sit at the Mercer Hotel every Tuesday?”
In Jaipur, he himself was the character, as he worked as a model, rather than a stylist. Still, he was inspired by the colors, and took advantage of the local tailors to have shirts, pants, and a jacket made— though he chose more muted fabrics than the city’s pinks, oranges, and reds.
“It’s extremely colorful here, almost to a point of being overwhelming,” he says. “But I wanted to pull from it and make my little edit.”